Interview with Gabriele Riedmann de Trinidad, head of the Group business area Energy at Deutsche Telekom.

Mrs Riedmann de Trinidad is part of the high level line-up of speakers at the keynote opening session of this year’s Metering Billing/CRM Europe on Tuesday, October 4.  Deutsche Telekom’s T-Systems is also the platinum sponsor of the event.  Here is a sneak preview...

How do you see Telekom’s role in the current move towards a “smarter” Europe?

Communication and information technology radically changed business in the 1980s and led to greater transparency, quality and efficiency. This ensured further economic growth for high wage countries. In this century ICT will be the key to resolving important questions facing our society – such as the energy revolution.

What would you say are the biggest challenges in the industry? And for Europe in particular?

Climate change, finite fossil fuels and an intolerable residual risk from the operation of nuclear power stations are leading to an energy revolution that will pose challenges for large parts of European industries. We will have to learn to cope with decentralized power supplies, which will take a great deal of intelligence. We will work together across national borders in a super grid. With its geographical diversity, Europe is predestined to generate and store power in a large variety of places. This represents a huge opportunity for European industry to play a pioneering role.

Huge investments are being made in smart grids – how do you explain to someone who knows nothing about this industry that this will improve our everyday lives?

The energy revolution will cost a lot of money. But it is money well invested, because it ensures our survival on planet Earth. All the follow up costs of climate change are far higher than the costs of stopping climate change in the first place. Or just think of our day-to-day lives – a life without air pollution and noise is a great bonus to our quality of life.

What are you most proud of so far? Any success stories you want to share with us?

Standards lay the foundation for fair competition, and our internet gateway now communicates with 90 smart meters and translates the proprietary data structure into internet protocol. In the early days every meter manufacturer tried its own way and it took a lot of work to convince them to get on board with IP, with worldwide digital language. These days, meter manufacturers are knocking on our door.

Any exciting, upcoming projects that Telekom is working on?

We have set up one of the largest smart metering projects in Germany in the T-City, Friedrichshafen, near Lake Constance. Now we are starting with smart grid components, step by step. Our work has awoken interest from around the world and we recently welcomed delegations from China and Brazil to look at this work.

What is your vision for this industry?

Power generation and ICT will converge in the same way as telecommunications and information technology before them. ICT is the putty holding together innumerable forms of decentralized power generation. And I'm not just thinking of photovoltaic systems and wind power – these days there are also pressure sensitive floor coverings. Admittedly they only generate a small amount of electricity, but imagine this technology in airports or rail stations. We will generate electricity in places we haven't even thought of yet. Tomorrow's energy landscape will be very complex. Computer systems will organize small units and exchange with other grids. Grids will become super grids.

What surprises you about this industry?

Energy has developed into a highly exciting area to work in. When I was studying electrical engineering, I concentrated on IT because the energy sector appeared to have reached full maturity. Now the two are converging. The energy sector is taking a great step forward. I am happy day after day when I think I am working in the most dynamic sector of the next few decades.

What do you expect from this year’s Metering Europe? What will be the message to the European delegates?

Metering Europe is a high caliber platform for international experts to exchange thoughts and ideas. My messages for the energy sector are: Let us make use of international standards, let us learn from other industries that underwent liberalization and digitization before the energy sector, and here I'm thinking of cloud computing, let us boldly deploy the latest technology where it makes sense.

For more information visit Deutsche Telekom at Metering Europe at booth E.20.