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Power to the people: consumer/prosumer-centric energy approaches

Empowered consumers and prosumers will have outsized impact on the clean energy transition through local energy communities and flexible on-demand consumption.

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Dialogue surrounding the green energy transition often focuses on countries and industrial sectors – big players in the energy game. However, every individual living in the EU and the UK contributes 6.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually – equivalent to the weight of about four and a half cars – and there are more than 500 million inhabitants. Turning the conventional passive consumer model on its head, the EU-funded REDREAM project delivered tools and services empowering consumers to use energy more sustainably and to actively participate in achieving the EU’s goals for a zero-emissions society by 2050.

Enabling flexible energy consumption on demand

Modifying consumption or production dynamically in response to changing market, grid and environmental conditions will enable more efficient use of energy resources, reduced energy costs and a smaller environmental footprint. “REDREAM developed a platform using cloud services and AI to help an ecosystem of consumers and prosumers exploit the benefits of flexible energy consumption on demand,” explains Ruben Rodriguez, part of the coordinating team at Comillas Pontifical University. The platform collects and evaluates data on energy consumption patterns from smart devices and on environmental factors like wind and sun. Inputs include electricity price, current consumption, country, building location and the type of consumer (residential, commercial or industrial). It also takes into consideration whether it’s a private or public photovoltaic system, the type and number of electrical consumers, and mobility behaviour (when using an electric car). Based on analyses of the information using AI, REDREAM optimises the energy use of consumers to reduce their bills and fosters the sustainability of the electricity system. “The platform offers consumers a choice of more than five energy-related plans to enhance energy efficiency by harnessing flexibility. The plans are specific to the individual data of each consumer and are all based on the service-dominant logic paradigm approach in which all developments and solutions were aimed at the needs of consumers,” says Francisco Martín, part of the coordinating team at Comillas Pontifical University.

Knowledge is power: inspiring change

REDREAM not only delivered technical services and tools. It also provided resources to enhance knowledge and understanding. Patrick Rembe of the European Science Communication Institute and project communication coordinator notes: ”The energy knowledge discovery centre has a wealth of information available for download in the form of white papers, videos and infographics. It is aimed at three basic target groups: consumers/prosumers, technical installers and policymakers. The content is designed to explain basic concepts and REDREAM’s technical solutions and, importantly, to create trust.” This was complemented by a games area and a social energy network fostering the active exchange of ideas and experiences among demo participants.

Lessons learned: demos in Spain, Croatia, Italy, and the UK

The REDREAM demos showcased the diverse ways in which flexible energy consumption on demand and the formation and/or promotion of local energy communities with decentralised production can benefit consumers and other stakeholders. These social energy networks can enable consumers to play active roles in energy markets with positive impact on cost and future sustainability. “The demos confirmed that flexibility on demand is one of the most important approaches to the energy transition. Furthermore, consumers participating in the demos understood the concept of flexible consumption, adapting their behaviour accordingly,” notes project coordinator Alvaro Sánchez Miralles of Comillas Pontifical University. In fact, inspiring consumers and triggering their curiosity despite the complexity of the topic and their previous lack of interest was among the highlights for the consortium. Consumer enthusiasm and adaptation of behaviours to exploit flexibility on demand underscores the potential of REDREAM’s outcomes to affect real and rapid change. Policies standardising the regulatory and legal preconditions for the flexibility-on-demand approach should expedite implementation throughout Europe.


REDREAM, energy, energy transition, on demand, prosumer, flexible energy consumption, local energy communities, social energy network, AI

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