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IT will solve tomorrow's energy problems

Published Sep 01, 2010

Reducing our electricity consumption which will lead to smarter storage and distribution of electricity are two major challenges we face. When the third meeting of the conference ICES begins on 2 September, the arrangers and the researchers at KTH intend to tackle these problems; they also aim to define a number of new challenges which are worthy of further research.

Martin Törngren
Martin Törngren, professor of mechatronics at KTH.

“How can we make electricity consumption more efficient with the help of IT? Where do we consume most electricity? How do we reduce fuel consumption in the transport industry? These and other questions we will be taken up during the third meeting of the annual ICES conference on 2 September. We also want to define a number of new problems during this conference, problems that are of value in terms of continued research,” says Martin Törngren, professor of mechatronics at KTH.

He is one of the people behind the conference which goes under the name “ICES 3rd Annual Conference: Networked Products - a solution for the energy problems of the future”, and he adds that there is another problem of importance to address. There has to be better interaction between the various interested parties.

“When Sweden was being built up during the 1950s to the 1970s, trade and industry, politicians and researchers cooperated extremely well together. This type of cooperation is required once more so that we will be able to achieve major successes within the energy and transport industry once again,” says Martin Törngren.

It is sufficient to take a look at developing countries such as China and India to understand this - with their considerable carbon dioxide emissions and traffic chaos, says Martin Törngren. We must reduce our energy consumption to rectify the problems.

“All people on earth will want the same living standards that we have, and there are still billions of people that do not have access to it. They have the same right as we do to demand it,” says Martin Törngren.

He adds that Volvo has set up an interesting objective for the year 2020 - Volvo cars will not kill one single human being either inside or outside of the vehicle. This will take place through an active safety system, and this will involve IT and embedded systems. This is an example of a subject that will be taken up at the ICES conference.

Martin Törngren is conducting research on such reliable guidance systems. And these issues are very closely related to energy issues.

“At the moment we are doing research on trucks, for example what happens when they drive in convoys in order to reduce fuel consumption. The idea for example is that it should work a little bit like a train, with time there will be specific roads dedicated to these trucks,” says Martin Törngren.

During the ICES conference, there will be experts who will be holding lectures and seminars on electricity distribution and smart houses. One of them is professor Giorgio Rizzoni from Ohio State University, who has worked at Ford.

“He will be talking about new transport systems, energy storage, electric hybrids, new inroads that have been made on smart transport systems and how it will be possible to use car batteries as a storage medium in smart electricity networks,” says Martin Törngren.

How will our personal integrity be affected by IT and embedded systems in terms of tomorrow's electrical systems, for example smart electricity networks?

“Our personal integrity is one aspect. But there are more, such as safety. The increased use of IT also means there will be new areas of vulnerability. Situations may arise where a system stops which in turn may mean that half of Sweden's electricity supply disappears. These are issues which have to be addressed,” says Martin Törngren.

For more information and the possibility of reporting from the conference, contact Martin Törngren at 08 - 790 63 07 or

More information about the conference

Peter Larsson