[Interview] Net Zero Homes at IFA 2023: How Samsung, SMA and ABB Are Realizing an Ambitious Vision for Convenience and Sustainability in the HomeShare open/close
Samsung Electronics’ Net Zero Home project aims to help customers save on costs, cut CO2 emissions and conveniently monitor household power use all at once via a single app, in homes that generate and manage their own energy. To help make the home of the future a reality, Samsung has partnered with several global technology companies specializing in eco-conscious home solutions, including Germany-based solar technology, storage and charging company SMA Solar Technology and Swedish-Swiss electronics corporation and smart-homes innovator ABB.
Samsung’s partnership with SMA enables users to access SMA’s various products and Home Energy solutions with SmartThings Energy. Samsung’s heat pumps can also now talk to SMA’s solutions. With the ABB partnership, users can leverage ABB’s various home automation solutions with SmartThings. Samsung’s various connected products will also be available for ABBs Smart Buildings.
With SMA’s Jan Van Laethem and ABB’s Lucy Han both participating in IFA as Net Zero Home project spokespersons, Samsung sat down with them to discuss their work on the project, their companies’ respective partnerships with Samsung and their visions for the future of sustainable smart home solutions.
Q. Could you please give us a brief introduction to yourself and your work?
Jan Van Laethem: As EVP of Segment Home Solutions, I’m responsible for all global residential solutions, systems and devices. SMA is the leading specialist in photovoltaic (PV) and storage system technology and we endeavor to set the standards for tomorrow’s renewable energy supply. Our portfolio scope ranges from efficient PV and battery inverters up to holistic system solutions for PV, battery storage, EV charging and HVAC systems of all power classes. With over 40 years of experience – which began at our center in Germany — the teams at SMA are working to shape the path to a climate friendly future.
Lucy Han: I am Executive Vice President for Building and Home Automation Solutions at ABB. Our ABB Smart Buildings enhance people’s quality of life by equipping the buildings of the future with products, solutions and services that drive energy efficiency and sustainability. We leverage innovation and digital technologies to enable safe and reliable energy distribution and smarter, more sustainable buildings. Whether it’s new or existing single-family homes, multi-dwellings or commercial and industrial buildings, we are driven by a spirit of partnership and collaboration, supported by a reputation for open and scalable digital solutions and intelligent technologies.
Q. Why did you choose to partner with Samsung for the Net Zero Home project? How does the partnership align with your company goals?
Van Laethem: Both SMA and Samsung share the same mission: To make people the focus of our business goals. SMA wants to empower its customers to create a sustainable future in their own lives, and partnerships with companies like Samsung are crucial in realizing this, because device compatibility is essential in making it happen.
Han: Teaming up with a major tech innovator like Samsung Electronics strengthens ABB’s mission to connect entire buildings with open and adaptable solutions. Partnerships like this also provide insights into total energy consumption, including in areas like electric vehicle (EV) charging.
Homeowners want smart home solutions that link all the devices of the home, whether they are from Samsung, ABB or other brands. Importantly, they also want to be able to access them via one user interface. The Net Zero Home project is an important milestone because it demonstrates this user-friendly approach in action. Our work with Samsung is helping make concepts like home automation and energy optimization more tangible to customers by showing them working seamlessly in familiar environments. Once fully realized, these concepts will constitute a significant step towards a more sustainable world.
Q. How would you describe the Net Zero Home project for customers? Does it let them participate in energy management themselves?
Han: Imagine homes where devices and appliances are all connected through one centralized system, a system that saves you money, time and energy. By connecting the Samsung SmartThings app with ABB home automation solutions, for instance, you can monitor and control everything — from washing machines to energy and security systems — using just one app across your devices. Through the energy they save and the carbon emissions they cut, smarter homes are a win-win for both you and the planet.
Van Laethem: The Net Zero Home project can take care of customers’ energy management for them, but it also lets them customize the system to meet their individual needs. The project offers different solutions for different individuals, from solar beginners to advanced users who want to participate more directly in managing their energy.
Q. What are your hopes and expectations for Net Zero Home use around the world? What are the factors that play into its wider adoption?
Van Laethem: SMA’s goal is to supply as many households as possible with clean energy and thus reduce CO2 emissions worldwide, and the Net Zero Home project is a great opportunity to make our energy solutions more widely available.
All around the world, energy costs are rising. Customers are starting to realize the value of independence from fossil energy imports and want to cut down their personal CO2 emissions. These factors are laying the groundwork for broader Net Zero Home adoption, and its success would mean more energy security, more freedom and a healthier planet.
Han: Global Net Zero Home adoption would mean more homes that don’t mess with the planet. That’s what this project is all about. Net Zero Homes are like climate superheroes, fighting carbon and climate change day in, day out. My personal vision for Net Zero Homes is for them to make a real difference in addressing the climate crisis.
Our overarching goal is to lead the way with today’s technologies to fix tomorrow’s issues. To make Net Zero Homes successful, however, we also need to keep things simple. That means open communication protocols, interoperable devices and creating a common language for the household ecosystem.
Q. To what extent is the Net Zero Home project responding to the current state of home energy?
Han: When it comes to the future of connected living and city planning, the pandemic condensed decades of social and behavioral change into the space of just a few months.
Now, we’re looking at a whole new landscape. Concepts like “smart cities” are evolving into a focus on “smart communities.” We used to think of smart technology in terms of individual homes, but now adoption among multi-dwelling, multi-villa and tower developments is gathering pace too.
To accelerate the transition to Net Zero we need to consider issues like industry standardization and regulatory certainty, the accessibility of technology, innovation, financing and industry skills. These are all areas that efforts like the Net Zero Home project help flesh out in real time.
Q. What does the future hold for SMA and ABB’s work with Samsung?
Van Laethem: SMA and Samsung are continuing to work together on holistic solutions that bring together the worlds of smart homes and home energy management. We look forward to sharing more plans and projects down the line.
Han: ABB and Samsung are currently working on the next iteration of products and solutions that tackle modern energy demands. Able to integrate with third party companies and domestic appliances, this solution will harmonize smart home systems, energy management processes and EV charging controls. Built into our existing smart home ecosystem, it interacts with heat pumps, rooftop solar PV systems and EVs.
This kind of visualized intelligence at users’ fingertips was, until now, the preserve of commercial buildings. Not only do our new solutions empower homeowners to better manage their immediate energy bills, but they will also help them to optimize their consumption habits over the long term. We are proud of our achievements alongside Samsung in the Net Zero Home project, and I am hopeful of further successes to come.
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