fbpx Skip to main content

Global Renewable Energy

Renewable sources now contribute substantially to meeting global energy demands, and their use is a critical component of global energy policies aimed at mitigating climate change and promoting sustainable development.

Installation of renewable energy infrastructure has seen exponential growth. Solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity has expanded worldwide, and wind energy generation, both on- and offshore, continues to roll out, with global wind power capacity doubling over the last five years.

This rapid expansion is supported by advances in technology, which have made renewable energy sources far more efficient and less expensive.

The commitments made by governments at the COP26 climate summit aim to achieve net-zero emissions by the middle of the century, which requires an even greater reliance on renewable energy.

Models suggest that to meet these targets, the next decade will witness a further acceleration in renewable energy projects: expanding existing capacities, integrating new technologies, and improving energy storage solutions to manage the inconstancy of renewable sources.

For SAP consultants, this presents many opportunities. The expansion of infrastructure requires sophisticated management tools for projects, supply chains, and meeting regulatory compliance. Also, integration of these energy sources into national grids needs advanced real-time data analysis and grid management.

This week IgniteSAP discusses how SAP solutions are being developed to meet these expanding needs, and how this represents a rapidly growing market for SAP consulting services. 

SAP’s Role in Renewable Energy

SAP has developed and adapted its solutions to meet the requirements of renewable energy projects. One component of SAP’s strategy involves the integration of intelligent technologies with core business processes to optimize renewable energy management.

SAP’s S/4HANA Cloud has been tailored to support the financial and operational needs of renewable energy providers for managing the fluctuations in renewable energy generation and distribution.

Solutions For Renewable Energy

SAP’s Sustainability Control Tower allows organizations to comprehensively track their environmental impact, including monitoring energy consumption and carbon emissions in real-time. This enables companies to meet regulatory standards and achieve sustainability goals.

SAP is integrating AI and ML into their ERP systems, augmenting predictive maintenance, which is particularly beneficial for wind and solar farms, where reliable equipment is crucial for energy production.

Project Management Tools for Renewable Energy

SAP’s Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) solution is particularly useful for managing renewable energy projects. This tool is designed for planning, execution, and monitoring of timelines and budgets for renewable energy installations. The PPM suite helps managers allocate resources, track progress, and manage project risks, in an integrated platform.

SAP Commercial Project Management (CPM) extends these capabilities with features designed for the commercial aspects of large-scale energy projects. This includes contract management and the integration of financial insights, allowing project leaders to maintain an overview of project finances.

Grid Integration Technologies

As renewable energy sources increasingly contribute to energy requirements, managing the integration of fluctuating energy supplies becomes critical. SAP’s Intelligent Grid Management solution allows utility companies to optimize and automate grid operations. This uses SAP HANA to process vast amounts of data generated by grid sensors, for immediate responses to changes in energy supply and demand.

SAP also offers solutions that support integration of distributed energy resources (DERs) into the grid. These tools also provide demand-response management, which is essential for balancing load and generation.

Infrastructure Monitoring and Asset Management

For renewable energy providers, maintaining the integrity and performance of infrastructure through good monitoring and management of systems is fundamental, due to the extensive and often remote nature of renewable energy assets. SAP’s solutions in this area are designed to enhance the longevity and performance of assets, and provide a clear and comprehensive view of operations.

Another key component is the SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service (PdMS), which uses predictive analytics to identify issues before they lead to asset failure.

SAP Business Network Asset Collaboration provides a cloud-based repository for information on  equipment, optimal maintenance, and operational data. This allows collaboration between equipment manufacturers, service providers, and operators: ensuring that all parties have access to the latest knowledge and best practices for asset management.

Cloud Solutions and AI

SAP’s Cloud ERP solutions, particularly S/4HANA Cloud, serve as a backbone for data management in renewable energy operations. By centralizing data management in the cloud, SAP facilitates data accessibility and integrity across various aspects of renewable energy projects: from generation and storage, to distribution and sales. This also supports agile responses to market changes and operational demands.

AI is increasingly integral in automating complex processes and enhancing decision-making in the renewable energy sector. SAP leverages AI in the Leonardo platform, which includes machine learning algorithms capable of analyzing large datasets to predict maintenance needs and optimize energy production schedules. For instance, AI can predict peak demand periods and adjust energy output accordingly.

AI is being integrated across the SAP portfolio, meaning that the advantages of AI can be seen in most areas of SAP systems for renewable energy providers, from edge assets to core functions and databases, with added cumulative effects. For this reason, AI is expected to grow in importance as a part of the skill set of SAP consultants working in this sector. 

Automation and Analytical Insights

Automation in SAP systems, particularly through iRPA, can automate routine tasks in the renewable energy sector, such as data entry, billing, and compliance reporting. This automation frees up employees to focus on more strategic tasks, such as system design and process optimization.

Analytics plays a critical role in planning, and achieving efficiency. Using SAP Analytics Cloud, energy companies can gain insights into performance trends, consumption patterns, and potential disruptions. This analytical power allows for better-informed decisions regarding capacity planning, risk management, and investment strategies.

Identifying and Capturing Opportunities

As renewable energy markets continue to expand, optimal implementation of the correct SAP solutions is crucial requirement for clients.

When working in the renewable energy sector SAP consultants need to identify specific areas where SAP solutions can provide substantial improvements.

Implementation For Renewable Clients

Implementation of SAP in renewable energy requires a well-structured approach. Initially, this involves a detailed assessment, where needs and potential improvements are identified. Following this, a customized SAP configuration is designed, focusing on integrating with existing systems and with achieving specific project goals. The implementation phase involves testing and adjustments to optimize the system, before full-scale deployment. Post-implementation, ongoing support and training are needed to ensure intended benefits.

Integration of SAP solutions with existing systems for renewable energy clients can present challenges, primarily due to the diverse and often outdated existing technological infrastructure.

Strategies to overcome these challenges include:

Using middleware solutions for integration of SAP with legacy systems, ensuring smooth data flow and functionality.

Adopting a phased approach for gradual integration: minimizing disruptions to existing operations and allowing for adjustments based on interim feedback.

Training and change management strategies, to ensure that the workforce can adapt to the new SAP solutions. This involves technical training and also highlighting the benefits and improvements these changes bring to daily operations.

Improving Financial and Customer Interactions

In the energy sector, where infrastructure projects and operational logistics can be massively complex and expensive, the ability to efficiently manage financial operations and maintain good customer relationships is crucial.

SAP’s S/4HANA Finance provides financial planning, reporting, and analysis. By integrating financial data across various business units, SAP helps renewable energy companies gain a clearer understanding of their financial health, for better decision-making and strategic planning.

Given the scale and scope of renewable energy projects, managing and tracking project costs is essential. SAP’s Project System (PS) module allows detailed tracking of project-related financials, from initial budgeting to final accounting. This ensures that all financial aspects of renewable energy projects are transparent and tightly controlled, reducing the risk of budget overruns.

SAP’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Billing for Utility Companies solutions are tailored for the needs of the energy sector. These improve customer data management, simplify billing, and allow more personalized customer service. SAP’s CRM tools enable energy providers to handle customer inquiries and issues more efficiently.

Integration with smart meters is another area where SAP adds value. SAP’s IoT and analytics capabilities can work with smart meter data to provide more accurate and timely billing information. This reduces common errors in energy utilities, leading to higher customer satisfaction and reduced service calls.

Strategic Consulting Approaches

Given the complexity and changeable nature of technology and renewable energy regulations, adopting an agile approach to project management is necessary. This methodology allows for flexibility, with the ability to adapt to changes as the project progresses.

SAP consultants must ensure that implementations integrate well with existing systems, but are also scalable to accommodate future growth. This includes planning for data migration, system compatibility, and potential expansions or upgrades to SAP solutions as the client’s needs evolve, or as new innovations in renewable energy are made available.

Building and Maintaining Client Relationships

One of the keys to successful consultancy in renewable energy is the ability to develop and implement solutions that are specific to the needs of each client. This requires a deep understanding of both SAP and the specific demands of the renewable market.

Effective client communication is critical. Regular updates, transparent reporting on progress, and open channels for feedback help build trust and ensure that the client feels involved and informed. Post-implementation support and training are also needed to allow clients to master the new SAP systems.

Maintaining a long-term relationship with clients in the renewable energy sector can yield significant benefits for both parties. This involves ongoing assessments and recommendations for improvements, updates to keep up with regulatory changes, and advising on ways to use new SAP features or tools that can benefit the client’s operations.

Preparing SAP Consultants for the Future in Renewable Energy

As the renewable energy sector continues to evolve, SAP consultants must also adapt and enhance their skills to remain competitive and effective.

Understanding of both SAP and renewable energy markets is required for SAP consultants specializing in renewable energy. This includes technical SAP expertise, and also knowledge of environmental regulations and energy policies, as these often shape project requirements and business strategies.

To build these competencies, SAP consultants should consider certifications such as SAP Certified Application Associate – SAP S/4HANA for Management Accounting, or SAP Certified Technology Associate – System Administration (SAP HANA) with SAP NetWeaver. Additionally, courses on SAP’s Energy Data Management or Environmental Compliance solutions can provide insights into sector-specific applications of SAP software.

Participation in renewable energy conferences and workshops can also enhance understanding and provide networking opportunities.

To stay current with both SAP and renewable energy market developments, consultants should regularly review industry publications, follow thought leaders on platforms like LinkedIn, and participate in forums and webinars offered by SAP, renewable energy providers, and regulatory bodies for the energy sector. Engaging with the SAP Community can provide knowledge of SAP developments and insights from other professionals in the field.

All of these strategies for continuous knowledge acquisition should contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the combined fields of SAP and the renewable energy sector.  

Future Prospects

The future for SAP consultants in the renewable energy sector looks promising but demanding, with increased reliance on integrated digital solutions to manage renewable assets, predict maintenance needs, and optimize energy production.

Consultants should focus on developing interdisciplinary skills that combine IT expertise with an understanding of renewable energy systems and sustainability practices. Building an SAP portfolio (including case studies) that demonstrates a history of successful projects in this sector can also help establish and validate SAP consultants.

Consultants also now need to focus on innovation within the sector, such as exploring ways to integrate emerging technologies like AI and ML with SAP systems for renewable energy providers.

This will equip SAP consultants to successfully navigate the complexities of the renewable energy sector, ensuring they remain vital contributors to their clients’ success, and leaders in the field of energy management consulting.

If you are an SAP professional looking for a new role in the SAP ecosystem our team of dedicated recruitment consultants can match you with your ideal employer and negotiate a competitive compensation package for your extremely valuable skills, so join our exclusive community at IgniteSAP.