Sim4Blocks partners gathered at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Western Switzerland, HES-SO Valais-Wallis, in Sion for the project’s third consortium meeting on March 22-24.

As well as reviewing the current work being carried out in the project and hearing about progress being made at the demonstration sites, the partners were also able to take part in valuable workshops that examined in detail key aspects of how Sim4Blocks will meet its core objectives.

The meeting started late in the evening of March 22, when five partners took part in an innovative round table panel discussion, which was recorded live and will be available as an edited Podcast very soon.

The debate, chaired by project manager Malcolm Yadack, focused on looking beyond the “How” in terms of the adding more flexibility to electricity networks that is needed to accommodate increasing input from renewable sources, instead examining what impact this increased flexibility will have on current players and energy markets in the future and what new responsibilities need to be taken on and by whom?

On the panel were Ursula Eicker, Bert Classens, Jordi Cipriano and Peter Fröhlich, each bringing expert insight into questions about the changing roles of network operators and regional utilities, what consumers should expect from their utility companies in the futures, business models that will need to be implemented and customer integration and acceptance of demand response.

Key to the debate were the individual experiences of the panelists, while the central question of how Sim4Blocks will best meet its core objective of demonstrating how a demand response system can work at the blocks of buildings scale was also addressed. How local, for example, must DR approaches be and will this be a hindrance to the EU ambition for the large-scale deployment of DR solutions across Europe?

The Podcast is currently being edited and will be available soon, alongside an interview with a member of the project’s international advisory board Michael Bobker, who provides insight into DR solutions from his work in New York, where demand response often means switching off the air conditioning in a building after a building manager receives an email!

Workshops took place over the following days, including sessions on modeling, user interfaces and acceptance, market access and business opportunities and monitoring and control strategies, hard- and software.

Partners were then taken to the project demo site at Naters, where they received a presentation of progress being made there as well as being able to speak with residents taking part in the project.

Finally, partners were also shown the new Sim4Blocks animation film, designed to explain the concept of demand response and how the project is looking to develop and demonstrate DR strategies in blocks of buildings in a simple and accessible way. A German version of the film was also developed and this was shown to residents in Naters to great enthusiasm. Watch the film here.