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Using IoT technology to create fossil-free energy districts

Ericsson is one of several partners that have been working together with the Swedish city of Gothenburg for the past 15 months on the Fossil-free Energy Districts (FED) project. The purpose of the project is to develop an innovative district-level energy system that integrates electric power, heating and cooling in an effort to reduce overall energy use and decrease fossil energy peaks by 80 percent. Our project partners include the utility company Göteborg Energi, along with property owners and academia.

According to Ann-Sofie Hermansson, mayor of the City of Gothenburg, “The FED project confirms Gothenburg as a frontrunner in developing the energy solutions of a fossil-free society. The idea is to reduce energy consumption by establishing a local marketplace for electricity, heating and cooling. Hopefully, this model will prove capable of speeding up the energy transition across Europe.”

Addressing the global climate challenge
The FED project is well aligned both with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – particularly #7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), #11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and #13 (Climate Action) – and with EU policies related to climate and energy.

The EU has set aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, aiming for a 20% reduction by 2020, 40% by 2030, and 95% by 2050. The plan is to replace fossil energy sources with renewable ones such as wind and solar power. This transition is expected to make the power supply more volatile, inducing larger variation in power prices over shorter periods in time.  In this environment, buildings that have traditionally only had the role of “energy consumers” have the opportunity to earn money by making their flexible resources (i.e. surplus energy) available to the energy market via an aggregator or Virtual Power Plant (VPP).

The FED project is co-financed by the European Regional and Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative (UIA), an initiative of the European Commission for cities to test new solutions for urban challenges. A total of 378 proposals from 24 countries were submitted in UIA’s first call. FED was one out of 18 projects qualified for funding, with a total project budget of €5.8 million.

FED – how it works
The FED project supports EU efforts to drastically decrease the use of fossil-based energy and increase the security of supply by:

  • developing a representation of a future energy market with volatile power supply and prices
  • connecting renewable production units to the market and using hour-by-hour pricing
  • connecting energy consumers (i.e. buildings) in the area and controlling their energy consumption.

The FED concept is built on the idea that flexible resources in buildings and production units are controlled by individual autonomous software agents that act on the buildings’ and production units’ behalf to make forecasts and place bids on the local energy trading market.


Ericsson’s role
Ericsson’s cloud-based, horizontal and cross-industry IoT Accelerator Platform is a critical component of the FED system, by connecting the physical infrastructure to the local energy marketplace. It also orchestrates the marketplace’s hourly decisions by instructing buildings and energy production units.

Ericsson is also leading the work to develop software agents for buildings and production units that will place hourly bids and 10-hour rolling forecasts on the marketplace. The baseline will be to implement optimization algorithms using a limited set of data inputs – first to forecast consumption, then to determine the possible flexibility to that consumption demand, and finally to translate the demand to energy bids on the market. Once all of this is in place and verified, we plan to apply increasingly sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence methods to ensure optimal performance and minimal energy use.

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To learn more about Ericsson’s sustainability work, check out our Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Report 2017 at: www.ericsson.com/sustainability-report

Written by Jonas Wilhelmsson

Jonas Wilhelmsson joined Ericsson in 2007 when Drutt Corporation, a company he co-founded, was acquired. He now serves as a Global Engagement Director, focusing on the IoT ecosystem. In addition, he heads up sustainability and Ericsson Garage in Gothenburg, Sweden, driving innovation & technology incubation. “These two roles are beautifully combined in a growing number of thought-leading projects with startups, academia, cities and industries,” he explains. “As urbanization accelerates and the world’s population grows, we simply have to rethink ‘business as usual’. This opens up for new opportunities while contributing to halt climate change.”

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