The idea of processing and dispatching units of electrical energy has been around since some time and rhetorically referred to as Internet of energy, Energy of internet, Packet energy, Bit energy, and why not, Quantum energy. All terms above refer to the very interesting idea of:
- quantizing electrical energy into units
- deploying a packet switched electrical network (which mimics a packet switched telecommunication network)
- offering the ability to dispatch a finite amount of electrical energy (which requires the establishment of a virtual link between the generator and the consumer)
The concept is appealing, indeed. Its concrete realization needs the solution of technical challenges and, of course, the development of good business models. The term quantum energy better reflects the fact that the electrical unit can be different depending on use case and constraints.
On the technical side, we need an electrical infrastructure that comprises controllable generators, loads, and most importantly, storage elements be able to store and deliver electricity when requested. Power electronics has a role here together with communication technology since we have to embed information in the energy packets and be able, at minimum, to identify senders and recipients of energy quanta. The main advantages of such a network is its flexibility, adaptability, resilience and overall efficiency. Don’t think we are far to make it real.
On the business side, quantum energy falls in the framework of transactive energy, a domain where electricity is exchanged through multiple parties and as a result of offer and demand bids. Existing electrical networks are over structured and inflexible. Quantum energy networks will open the door to new services and models.
I have shared my ideas at the panel held at the VDE Tec Summit in Berlin on 14 November 2018. The panel has been organized by prof. Ralf Lehnert (TU Dresden) with the participation of distinguished panelists that are working to make quantum energy real: prof. Antonello Monti (RWTH Aachen), prof. Veit Hagenmeyer (KIT) and prof. Lijun Cai (Univ. Rostock). The VDE Tec Summit has been a great event with over 1800 participants.