DETECTIVE - Energy saving by digitalisation

The smart meter rollout is ready to start. With the broad market introduction of new digital metering systems, the technical infrastructure for the digitisation of the transformation of the energy system will be created in the next few years. In addition to electronic energy billing for electricity and heat, it will enable and facilitate the integration of renewable energies, sector coupling and pro-sumer models. Measuring energy consumption and other operating parameters digitally also offers the technical opportunity to systematically identify, differentiate and visualise in real time previously hidden energy efficiency and energy saving potentials and to tap them through partially or fully automatic control and optimisation strategies.

Energy efficiency and energy saving potentials through digital energy measurement, control and optimisation

The DETECTIVE project aims to systematically quantify the opportunities and risks of the increasing digitalisation of the energy system on the energy application side, for example through heating or electricity consumption monitoring. Efficiency and savings potentials are to be quantified for selected configurations of currently market-available products for electronic measurement, control and optimisation of electricity and heat consumption as well as heat supply and distribution. Suitable services are to be discussed and developed together with users. The focus is on the question of under which conditions the data acquisition and processing procedures of smart meters in the heat and electricity sector are acceptable from the perspective of energy customers and to what extent they are ecologically sensible overall.

User acceptance and net balance of environmental effects

For answering this questions is to make transparent which data are measured in which resolution and how transparency and comprehensibility for users can be ensured. The central analytical step addresses the question of which data must at least be recorded and processed to what extent and at which networking level in order to be able to tap the potential. Based on this, the project team investigates which user groups accept which degree of data processing.

Finally, the energy efficiency and energy saving potentials of concrete digital applications in the electricity and heat sector will be evaluated by analysing their technical prerequisites and quantifying possible potentials. In the next step, the additional power consumption of digital devices and information processing is recorded and compared with the savings potential. This creates a net balance of savings potential and additional energy consumption.


July 2020 – September 2023


Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy)


Network partner

Institut für Ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung (IÖW) GmbH, non-profit, Berlin and Heidelberg (project lead)

Project partners

ista international GmbH, Essen

Discovergy GmbH, Heidelberg

Practice partners

bitkom, BUND Bundesverband, vzbv

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