Ireland’s future internet and smart energy systems

1 Jun 2011

It is critical that Ireland invests in its ICT sector and that it is not left behind, particularly in relation to the development of its smart energy infrastructure, an internet expert warned today at the third annual meeting of the Irish Future Internet Forum.

Held in Kilkenny, the forum, which was hosted by the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) and Invest Kilkenny, was addressed by the Minister of State, Fergus O’Dowd, TD, while more than 100 delegates looked at the threats to the future of Ireland’s smart economy and ways of protecting Ireland’s position as a leading ICT research hub.

Miguel Ponce de Leon, chief technologist with the TSSG at Waterford Institute of Technology, said the future internet is crucial to Ireland’s continued competitiveness. He drew strong attention to the importance of pioneering Ireland’s smart energy grid.

Current electricity infrastructure “dumb”

“The next wave of business, consumer and industrial technologies will be dependent on future internet technology,” said de Leon. “One of the most crucial examples is the ‘smart energy’ grid. Our current electricity infrastructure is ‘dumb’ – it pumps out a constant flow of power in all directions.”

He said while Ireland is restructuring itself to take advantage of its abundant natural and sustainable power sources, including wind and wave power, and solar generators, these power sources do not produce a reliably steady flow of energy as there are natural peaks and troughs.

“A smart energy grid can dynamically adapt the flow of power, to ensure a stable supply. Future internet technologies will play a critical role in the development of the smart energy infrastructures needed to support society in 2020 and beyond,” said de Leon.

ICT requirements of smart energy systems

Topics also covered at the forum included pan-European projects, such as Future Internet Smart Energy (FINSENY).

Now 33 key actors from the ICT and energy sector, including ESB, Intune Networks and the TSSG, will team up to identify the ICT requirements of smart energy systems.  

“A dynamic energy grid would allow the deployment of electric vehicles in Ireland, much like the recent launch of Source London – a network of power points and electric vehicles in London,” said de Leon.

“This strategy has made vehicular power points more common than petrol stations in London, and is set to make it the electric capital of Europe. With the application of future internet technology, Ireland can provide the same kind of future-proof products to its own citizens.”

Photo: Fergus O’Dowd TD, Minister of State, Department Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, pictured with Miguel Ponce de Leon, chief technologist, TSSG, at the Irish Future Internet Forum

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic