Recently I Googled for “Energy Roundabout”. Zero hits – a (fairly) new term, indeed! However, Google did come up with “The Netherlands is ambitious to become Europe’s gas roundabout” for an answer. What’s that? A gas roundabout consists of a set of entries, facilities for transport, transformation and storage plus a multitude of exits. It serves flexible and easy flowing and trading of natural gas.
About five years ago I mentioned the notion of a gas roundabout here, on Information Roundabout. And now, some five years later, significant societal and technological changes require (lines of) businesses to step up to the next higher level of abstraction: from a, say, gas roundabout to an Energy Roundabout. Being able to handle a wide variety of (in this case) gas qualities from/to a number of sources/destinations truly is amazing and surely requires lots of skills… but it no longer fully answers contemporary and future needs.
Present-day independent (lines of) businesses need to somehow reinvent themselves as interdependent (lines of) businesses that together – acting as a whole, serve society with… energy. Energy of any desired quality/type. Such a living whole constitutes the Energy Roundabout.
And the definition still holds: An Energy Roundabout consists of a set of entries, facilities for transport, transformation and storage plus a multitude of exits. But the individual elements now carry a richer content. Transformation, for example, now also includes from power to gas and, as another example, from gas (e.g. hydrogen) to another gas (e.g. methane).
An Energy Roundabout smoothly interconnects and naturally (re)positions participating (lines of) business at the common and appealing energy level. It facilitates energy transformations/transitions between separate (types of) energy systems. It also enables a multitude of participants – including small ones, e.g. individual households – to act simultaneously in energy-traffic at the Energy Roundabout: addition, withdrawal, transportation, transformation and storing of energy. Independent businesses become interdependent participants in energy-traffic – adhering to generally accepted rules for energy-traffic. Close cooperation between large numbers of diverse participants, facilitated by various and varying technologies in order to facilitate any and all with energy of requested qualities/types.
What about the information that represents the activities of both energy systems and participants in order to get and keep the Energy Roundabout going? An Energy Roundabout is, in my opinion, best seen as a system of systems. The independent (lines of) businesses all become fairly interdependent participants in energy-traffic (on the Energy Roundabout) and totally interdependent participants in information-traffic – on the accompanying information roundabout. Blurred information at the information roundabout causes the Energy Roundabout it serves to stagnate. So …
What about the modeling of information, what about the design of information-traffic, traffic rules etc. with respect to the activity-span at the Energy Roundabout? Such information needs, in my opinion , to be very carefully and systematically designed and modeled in order to be able to durably supply a firm common communication ground for all current/future participants in information-traffic. A robust ground on which any participant in energy-traffic can accurately build its own information provisioning.
This information roundabout needs, in my opinion, to be set up as an information infrastructure that (at design level) is able to facilitate the information needs of all potential (kinds of) participants – ranging from the single and small household to the large production, transport, transformation, … company. Based on such a systematic design, construction of the information roundabout will – step by step – result in a powerful means to sustain and extend the Energy Roundabout. Which is, of course, a great, great challenge – no doubt; can’t wait to see it grow and flow!
May 2015, Copyright (c) 2015 – Jan van Til/Information Roundabout