To advertise on this website,
please write to
As a key industry figure who has helped shape the future of the European energy sector, Dr. Maher Chebbo, EMEA vice president of utilities & communication industries at SAP, has a thing or two to say about smart grids in the GCC.
To call Maher Chebbo an expert on information and communication technologies (ICT) in the power industry is somewhat of an understatement. When the European Union decided to modernise the region’s power grid, he was appointed as one of the members of the European Technology Platform (ETP) responsible for paving the way for a smart grid in Europe.
Chebbo is thus responsible for selling SAP’s ICT products to suppliers and transmission companies, as well as helping to shape the environment in which these products will be used.
Chebbo is proud of his work for the EU, where he is also active on a number of other bodies, and likes to talk about the ETP charged with coming up with a blueprint for a European smart grid.
“This platform defined a vision, based on the question: Why do we need to do the smart grid? Its simple. We need to achieve the target decided by the European member states,” says Chebbo. The EU has set the bar high. It aims to reduce C02 emissions by 20 percent by 2020, as well as increase the use of renewable energy to 20 percent of overall production, and reduce energy consumption by 20 percent. Of those three targets, the first two are mandatory.
The Union has put its money where its mouth is. At the beginning of this month, an initiative was launched to execute more than 20 projects worth two billion Euros proposed by distribution and transmissions companies.
With a market share of 65 percent for ITC and CRM applications in the utilities sector, SAP is well equipped to contribute to the vision of the smart grid, believes Chebbo. (see box) The company has provided software to around 1,500 utilties worldwide, and has been active in the field since its inception in 1972.
Since the liberalisation of the European energy market in 2007, the company is confronted with a changed sector. Whereas SAP would previously supply vertically integrated energy giants who encompassed everything from power generation to transmission and distribution, it now caters to companies with no direct ties to each other.
The changes to the market in Europe did not pose a huge challenge to the company, as its products were structured in a way that made it easy to adapt. Rather than having to develop new software, SAP was able to unbundle its programmes in much the same way was the EU had unbundled the market. “We are offering unbundled solutions in Europe, and the full package for vertically integrated companies like in the US,” says Chebbo.
He explains how the company responded to the EU ruling: “We developed two things. One was a solution for unbundling – the intercompany data exchange. That solution enables the communication between the distributor and the retailer. The other was energy data management. This is for the collection of consumption data on meters and helps to bill customers. We also made more developments around balancing, in calculating how much the supplier has to pay for the usage of the network to the distributor.”