Executive Claudia Häpp

“Pioneering work in the energy sector”

TUM Alumna Claudia Häpp is actively shaping the energy supply of the future. At a major power supplier, she is rolling out smart energy solutions such as smart meters and flexible electricity tariffs.

Even at the beginning of her studies, TUM Alumna Claudia Häpp was already passionate about the topic of energy, although at first glance, her degree program seemed completely unrelated to electricity. She earned a degree in Ecotrophology/Nutritional Science and Home Economics, but quickly focused on household appliances and energy. Because electricity is needed almost everywhere. From hair dryers to smart home controls, everything requires energy. Today, she works for one of Germany’s leading energy providers and makes sure that the power supplier too is implementing smart solutions. Because, while a lot of progress has already been made in terms of smart homes, i.e. on the customer side, energy suppliers still have to catch up.

Integrating Data

“Looking at the various products and services in private homes, almost all of them now have some kind of interface with the Internet,” she says. “So they are networked and therefore part of a smart home.” This starts with controls for blinds and shutters, and extends to heating and household appliances, and also includes various voice assistants and entertainment electronics. “What is still missing are the applications from the energy sector.” An important innovation now under development, she says, is the smart electricity meter. The so-called smart meters are able to digitally receive data, such as tariff changes, while also sending information, such as the volume of electricity passing through.

In order for these smart meters to facilitate communication between customers and energy suppliers and also to improve customer acceptance, there are still a number of things that need to be tweaked: “One important part is ensuring security,” says Claudia Häpp. “After all, some of the data concerned is sensitive, and no one wants strangers to control their household.”

Energy suppliers need household data, among other things, to introduce flexible electricity tariffs based on the time of day. Depending on the times when little or a lot of electricity is being consumed, for example because many household appliances are running, the tariff could change. “The first flexible tariffs have been introduced recently,” Claudia Häpp says.

TUM Created the Perfect Foundations

Studying Nutritional Science and Home Economics at TUM, she focused on the technological aspect rather than on Nutritional Science straight from the start: “Household technology, i.e. the preparation of food, was what interested me the most”. At TUM, she says, there was a lot of emphasis on consumers and their needs in addition to fact-based teaching around household technology. This combination is rare, Claudia Häpp believes: “For me, it was a stroke of luck.” The course therefore laid the perfect foundation for her diploma and doctoral theses on household appliance networks and smart homes.

At the turn of the millennium, smart homes were still in their infancy. “My time at TUM was simply brilliant. I always had the feeling that I was able to benefit from cutting-edge teaching here.” And today she still wants to help shape the future: “I want to do pioneering work in well-established structures,” Claudia Häpp says. “The energy sector has a lot of potential here.”

Digital Pathways

 However, according to Claudia Häpp, there is no way around digitalization. It plays a key role not only in day-to-day work, but also in the energy supplier’s product and service development. Both private and business customers have long been demanding digital options: “This starts with online contracts and extends to automatic monthly billing, which is possible with smart meters,” Claudia Häpp says.

Claudia Häpp continues to foster the bond with her alma mater, as well as with TUM’s young talent: “I strongly believe in TUM graduates and already hired several of them for my teams and have never been disappointed.”