The standard called SAREF (Smart Appliances REFerence ontology) creates a new reference language for energy-related data. It has been tested, now becomes a standard and is being commercialized in home devices, bringing to users a fully interoperable consumer-centric smart grid. Two priorities of the Junker commission, namely the Digital Single Market and the Energy Union, demonstrate how they can work together in real life applications.

Picture of the opening speech by Despina Spanou at the SAREF event 27 November 2017 in Brussels

Fully interoperable smart grids and smart homes will increase the use of renewable energy and its share in the energy mix, thus reducing the green-house-gas emissions, ensuring the security of supply and the resilience of the grid. Decreasing the polluting grid production capacity will reduce harmful emissions and bring cost benefits to both utilities and consumers. They will contribute to create digital skills, jobs and growth. With the use of international standards, they will open other markets for the European digital players.

An event held on 27-29 November 2017 in Brussels showcased a full standards-based end-to-end demand-side flexibility setup starting from utilities and energy services companies all the way down the value chain through energy management systems to the consumer appliances (such as commercially available washing machines and tumble dryers), an Electric Vehicle charging station and a heat pump. This was in fact the final deliverable of a current European Commission study on enabling interoperability in the demand-side value chain and was building up on the highly successful EC study that created the SAREF (Smart Appliance REFerence ontology).

There was significant attendance for each day (more than 50 people): industrial associations, standardisation bodies, consumers' associations, MEPs and several European Commission services were present.

The initiative has enjoyed broad stakeholder support since its inception with the launch of the original SAREF study in 2014 and even before this launch. ETSI (The European ICT standardisation body) and OneM2M (the global IoT standardisation initiative) have shown strong support to the initiative by standardising the SAREF ontology into a series of technical specifications.

The next aim is to extend the SAREF standard from energy to smart cities, smart mobility, smart water and other relevant verticals in order to ensure semantic interoperability.

What are the plans for the future?

SAREF has already been in commercial devices for more than a year. Nevertheless further effort is needed to reach a critical mass of smart appliances compliant with SAREF in EU homes, in order to realise the substantial benefits of a smart grid.

Industry partners are gearing up, and the Commission is ready to support their efforts. As more and more types of appliances join, SAREF will need to evolve further to accommodate these new uses. And it is already evolving in a major way. The European Telecommunication Standards Institute has already released a second version of the standard, which has become modular for greater flexibility.

In fact even the SAREF name has evolved. It has now become SAREF4ENER (SAREF for energy), and other extensions have been developed such as SAREF for buildings and SAREF for the environment. More are being developed for smart cities, smart water, agriculture, smart mobility, and others - essentially turning SAREF into Smart Anything REFerence ontology.

To accelerate market take-up and new energy services further, a large-scale Internet of Things pilot for interoperable smart homes and grids will be funded next year from Horizon2020.

More information: SAREF – a new standard for smart appliances