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Better energy management begins at home

There Corporation’s platform for home energy management – known as ThereGate™ – is designed to make smarter energy consumption possible and leverage the true potential of things like next-generation smart metering.

The roots of ThereGate™ lie in work done on the Smart Home programme and controlling home appliances via mobile phones at the Nokia Research Center. There Corporation was formed in May 2009 as a management buyout to commercialise and build on this technology, which has been supplemented with additional energy measurement and smart grid expertise.

ThereGate™ is a technology-independent, open Linux-based platform capable of supporting the most common smart home and communications technologies. This makes it very flexible, as products from a variety of vendors can be used and third parties can easily develop new solutions.

Any browser-enabled PC, tablet, or mobile phone can act as a control node. A simple unified interface makes controlling energy and home solutions easy and convenient. The system can also be integrated into back-end systems, Internet services, and portals.

Back-end servers ensure a seamless and secure link between a mobile phone and a ThereGate™ control unit; while automatic software updating makes it easy to introduce new services.

A win-win solution for everyone

Working with Helsinki-based utility, Helsingin Energia, and measurement solution specialist, Mitox, There Corporation recently launched a pilot project to give customers in Helsinki access to accurate information on their energy consumption and the opportunity to reduce their energy bills – and emissions.

The pilot solution allows householders to monitor their energy consumption in real-time, wherever they are, and identify which devices and systems are using the most energy. Shifting usage to the most cost-effective tariffs is handled automatically, based on simple guidelines given by the user. To provide as much input as possible, the pilot covers participants’ main homes and any holiday homes they may have, as well as different heating systems.

In addition to real-time cost monitoring and automatic tariff switching, participants in the project can also prioritise their usage of electricity generated by wind power as and when it is available.

For consumers, the system provides a highly accurate and up-to-date picture of how much energy they use and what they use it on. In addition to encouraging a more energy-conscious mind-set, it can also help people save significant amounts of money on their energy bills.

For utilities, ThereGate™ technology is one way of making more of new automatic, hourly- based metering. It also offers the potential to improve overall energy efficiency and maximise the benefits of different types of electricity generation and balance out peak demand, as well as enhance the functionality of the overall energy market.

This is set to become increasingly important as the use of wind and solar power increases, as these generating modes require load-balancing capacity. Smarter and more flexible consumption offers a more cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternative to simply building more additional conventional plants to provide this capacity.

ThereGate™ is designed to help households use energy more intelligently and reap the benefits of things like smart metering.
> Kari Rantanen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2011)