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H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L


S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N E R G Y

how we can keep energy independence in

Europe and reduce the 53% of energy imports

from outside Europe.

There are many paths towards developing a

solution to this equation, and ICT and modelling

can definitely help in solving the challenge. With

high performance computing, Big Data analysis

and predictive analysis, we are capable of

helping to solve the energy equation, and help

Europe, member states, and European energy

companies to make the right decisions.

How far along is Europe in

developing tools in this area?

Are you happy with the progress

being made?

We have energy companies who are increasingly

equipped with these sorts of tools. Individually

we have these firms using decision support

systems to some extent, as well as Big Data real-

time analysis systems; but we don’t have

member states or the European Union equipped

with these forms of tools. There is no holistic

solution that can take in all the data and provide

a result for Europe’s policy makers. Our ambition

(speaking here on behalf of SAP) is to make a

proposal under Horizon 2020 for a project where

we bring the main energy actors and big

technology companies in Europe together to

produce such a European energy tool.

How well developed is this proposal?

Energy is not an area where we can afford to

wait. I hope we will finalise the proposal this

year, and it will be approved to run for four

years. We need to have something in parallel

that is working practically in the short term,

which could hopefully meet close to 100% of

the requirements of the tool, and this could be

within the year. We ought to look at a cloud

solution that can be used by member states,

the European Commission or energy

companies. They will be able to go to this

European cloud, enter the predictive data, and

receive a benchmark in response. Through the


midst the multiple energy challenges facing Europe today,

the development of the smart grid is perceived as one key

factor in helping to ensure sustainable, affordable and

secure European energy in the future. In this interview with Portal,

Maher Chebbo, general manager, energy sector for EMEA, SAP,

member of the Smart Grids European Technology Platform

(chairman of WG3 Demand & Metering/Retail) and president of the

European Smart Metering Industry Group (ESMIG), reflected on the

key developments around the European smart grid.

What is your reaction to the Commission’s work

towards creating a European Energy Union; how is this

important and how does it link to the efforts to create a

European smart grid?

This is an interesting initiative that we have discussed under the

European round table that I am a part of. We also discussed this under

the ESMIG that I am the president of. In these two forums we agreed

that this is a good initiative, provided that there is concrete action beyond

the paper behind it. The energy industry sector is completely open to

greater regional and European approaches. There are a lot of issues

common to all of Europe. It is possible to find common challenges and

priorities across the European energy markets and it makes sense to

have an Energy Union. Now, behind this, we need to define what we

actually mean by an Energy Union, and what the implications are for

European countries. It is important to consider whether we will have one

high level operator for all countries, or whether we will work to create

more synergy projects. This is the area requiring definition.

Regarding the work of the Smart Grids European

Technology Platform, why is it so important that we see

developments in ICT and software alongside

infrastructural projects?

I can provide a comparison to illustrate the situation; today we do not

have a ‘cockpit’ for energy in Europe. When an aeroplane detects

changes in aerodynamics it can react, with ICT and electronics in the

cockpit helping the aeroplane to change trajectory. Today we need the

same for the European energy market: an energy ‘cockpit’ that can help

Europe take quick and reactive decisions when the conditions – be they

geopolitical or economic – change. When we have a crisis today, we are

not capable of making quick or automatic decisions, because we do not

even have all the data to begin with.

The proposal that we have made, as the large technology companies, is

that we will collect the data on energy production in the conventional and

renewable sectors, energy and exports; all the data that is needed to know

Sowing the smart grid seeds


spoke to the Smart Grids European Technology Platform member

Maher Chebbo

on developments around the European smart grid as the EU

pushes an Energy Union

Maher Chebbo