Energy as a Service is the latest business model innovation to arrive in the energy supply industry. In short it is all about moving away from buying energy on a per unit (p/kWh) basis and moving towards a fixed fee per month within certain volume thresholds; akin to how we pay for mobile phone contracts. Energy as a Service has emerged off the back of disruption to the way we supply, consume and now ultimately buy energy, which has fundamentally changed energy market economics.
This disruption is the result of four major technology-driven trends:
Decarbonisation – The growth of energy supply from zero marginal cost renewable resources
Decentralisation – The growth in energy generated from smaller scale low carbon resources either on customer sites (Behind-the-Meter) or at the Distribution Level (Distributed Energy)
Digitisation – The ability to measure and monitor machine behaviour in real-time and automate how we use and supply energy
Democratisation – The rise in consumer participation, control and choice which is increasingly determining how energy is bought and used
Traditional per unit models work where the dominant cost in delivery of the product or service scales according to the volume used. This was true when the majority of power supplied came from sources that required a fuel input e.g. coal and gas. The more energy consumed the greater the proportional cost of buying and burning that fuel to generate more kWhs of power. Other components which make up the total ‘at-the-meter’ price have also been charged on a per unit basis to ensure those who use more of the electricity network pay more for it; government taxes, utility profit margins and network charges (with some time-of-use element).
However, when you start to use zero marginal cost power the economics get flipped on their head. Renewable ‘fuel’ is free, so the dominant cost in consuming energy becomes the infrastructure needed to deliver it. Wind turbines, PV panels, transmission and distribution cables have low operational costs once built, so the initial capital expenditure is where the dominant cost lies.
Across Europe average wholesale prices now reflect wind and sun patterns more than the cost of coal and gas, and at periods of low demand and high renewable output we consistently see negative prices. Clearly change is needed as consuming more energy at these times is beneficial to the whole system but a per unit charging mechanism disincentivises users from doing that.
Enter, Energy as a Service. Already we are seeing a shift in network charging towards capacity-based charges instead of use-of-system charges. Wholesale prices are not far behind; the task becomes providing the flexibility to firm up renewable output. Thanks to the digital revolution described above this flexibility can come from consumers’ demand, cost-effectively tapping into flexibility inherent in distributed energy resources behind-the-meter.
Take a given offshore wind site, with known capacity factors of about 50%. It is possible to quantify the amount of flexible energy needed to ensure 99% of customer demand is met at all times. Using existing business assets means it is possible to take advantage of zero marginal cost flexibility in everyday processes (such as heating, cooling, pumping, battery storage and CHPs), avoid unnecessary infrastructure upgrades and minimise efficiency losses in transporting power. Once it is understood how much flexible power is needed to firm up the output of renewable generation the next task is what technologies do you use to meet that flexibility requirement.
Artificial intelligence-powered flexibility platforms – like Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand 2.0 technology – which can manage distributed energy resources in real-time, are critical. They can evaluate the amount of flexibility in existing power-consuming assets and processes – in addition to any battery storage and/or flexible generation (such as CHPs) – and map demand to supply. This then becomes a constant, real-time scheduling problem for the platform to manage; invisibly ramping processes up when wind is abundant and storing as much power as possible, or turning processes down to a stable minimum and discharging batteries or using a CHP when wind output is low. If real-time scheduling isn’t maintained, the cost structure breaks down, so the reliability of these platforms is critical.
What is important to recognise here is that below a certain demand threshold the marginal cost of putting in place this service is the cost of operating the wind and the software required to schedule behind-the-meter flexibility. This is why Europe’s utilities are making huge investments and acquisitions in virtual power plant technology.
By doing so the costs of delivering energy become fixed and predictable and scale with size of connection instead of actual usage. Exactly like the mobile phone industry where the marginal cost of sending a packet of data is immaterial in comparison to network costs of all infrastructure.
For Open Energi Energy as a Service has always been the natural end-game in maximising the value of Demand Response. It shelters consumers from the continuously changing and complex incentives of the existing Demand Response markets, and instead offers a simple proposition: “By installing demand response software across a range of assets you can pay a lower fixed monthly fee for your energy”.
The clarity and certainty offered by Energy as a Service makes it easy to structure simple, long-term financing solutions for different technologies – e.g. solar PV, energy storage, CHP – and allows businesses to concentrate on what they do best. All the complexities of power procurement and demand response markets are removed in place of a known fixed fee per month that ensures reliable, clean and affordable energy.
As Electric Vehicle (EV) uptake accelerates and costs fall, more and more companies are exploring how to electrify their vehicle fleets and offer EV charging to employees and/or customers. Delivering sustainable transport solutions will cut carbon and improve air quality, but businesses need to think carefully about the impact on their electricity demand and how they manage EV charging as part of their wider energy strategy.
There are a large and growing number of EV models on the market with progressively faster charging speeds and bigger ranges. Charging set-ups differ across manufacturers, although two favoured options seem to be emerging; Type 1 and CHAdeMO or Type 2 and CCS (Zap Map offer a good overview of this).
In the UK Type 2 is by far the most commonly available chargepoint. Understanding fleet or workplace/customer charging requirements should inform what charging infrastructure is most appropriate, but of course fast or rapid connectors will have a larger impact in terms of electricity demand.
2. Connection size:
EVs can instantly draw a lot of power from the grid. Today’s rapid chargers typically charge at up to 50kW (although Tesla’s are faster), but newer models are expected to charge at 150kW and beyond. If you are offering fast/rapid charging and expect to have many vehicles charging at once, you may need to expand your connection size. A larger connection will cost more but will enable you to meet higher demand without exceeding your import limits – assuming the local electricity network has the capacity. An alternative approach is to stagger the timing of vehicle charging so that you avoid creating a surge in power demand (‘smart queuing’), enabling a smaller, less expensive connection. Similarly, if you have on-site renewable generation or energy storage, these can be used alongside EV charging to manage demand and make the most of clean, cheap electricity when it is available.
3. Charging patterns
It’s really important to think about expected charging patterns. If it’s your own fleet will they all be charging overnight only, weekdays versus weekends, or on a rolling 24/7 basis? Similarly for employees or customer charging facilities, will charging be condensed into working or opening hours or could the facilities be used more widely? The more flexibility you have to manage and spread EV charging the better, but you have to start by focusing on the requirements and expectations of the driver. A supermarket customer might only connect for twenty minutes but won’t want their charging interrupted. Someone at work could plug their vehicle in for eight hours or more, so probably won’t mind if you delay or interrupt their charging as long as their vehicle is charged and ready to go when they finish work. Smart queuing, which automates optimal queuing and charge dispatch of EVs can manage this process to support local network needs and ensure vehicle charging is prioritised in the appropriate order.
4. How many and where
If charging stations are dispersed in small numbers across multiple sites that will be much easier to manage and integrate with existing infrastructure than a large number all at one site. However, if your charging is concentrated in one place, this will make it easier to capture value from smart charging and EV flexibility. Local flexibility markets are emerging, and the ability to turn-down demand quickly and efficiently could provide a valuable service to local Distribution Network Operators. The business case for aggregating and delivering this kind of service from EVs becomes more compelling where there are economies of scale to be gained from connecting to many vehicles in one place.
5. Electricity bill
It’s important to assess the impact EVs will have on your electricity bill. Understanding this, and the nature of the tariff structure you have with your supplier, will help to identify where the opportunities for optimisation lie. Minimising charging during peak price periods and maximising charging when electricity is at its cheapest is an obvious first step, but the ability to manage the timing of EV charging also opens up potential revenue streams. For example, as renewable generation grows instances of negative pricing – when you get paid to consume electricity – are expected to occur more often. With the right technology in place, your EVs could respond to these price signals and get paid to charge your EV fleet. More generally, the ability to respond to fluctuations in electricity supply and demand and provide short-term balancing services – i.e. a few minutes – to the System Operator can be extremely valuable.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your business’ EV charging strategy in more detail, please get in touch.
Headquartered in London with global ambitions, Open Energi is using advanced technology and data-driven insight to create a more sustainable energy future.
Our Dynamic Demand 2.0 platform connects and controls distributed energy resources to help businesses save costs, earn revenue and cut carbon.
We are breaking new ground in demand-side management, working with leading businesses, suppliers, developers and world-renowned technology partners to deliver innovative solutions that put our customers in control of how, when and from where they consume electricity.
If you would enjoy the challenge of deploying a ground-breaking technology into an emerging market and want to work for an innovative company where you have complete belief in the product and service you represent, we might be just the place for you.
We are seeking an Engineering Technician to provide hands-on support for our technology roll-outs and commissioning projects at client sites throughout the UK. The role gives a clear career path leading to a Project Engineer role and beyond.
This role would suit someone:
who demonstrates a strong aptitude for technical-based subject matter in the early stages of their career; or someone looking to redirect their career towards a more technical, hands-on role.
with related experience, e.g. electrical, mechanical with electrical bias, or a related technical domain
who has completed an electrical apprenticeship with site experience.
who is a graduate in an engineering-related discipline.
Provided you are interested in gaining hands-on technical experience in the work place, and a career in developing a new technology in the energy sector, we will ensure you gain all the knowledge and skills you need.
The successful candidate will be based from home but will be required to attend our central London Head Office and travel to client premises/sites throughout the UK, with overnight stays where necessary.
Place of work
Work from home – extensive travel across UK
Main Purpose of Role:
Support the Project Engineer to design software and hardware integrations for Open Energi’s portfolio of assets, from concept to project sign-off
Support technical surveys of client assets and processes to identify customer requirements
Produce accurate documentation detailing work carried out on site
On-site and remote commissioning of Open Energi equipment
Work in the Open Energi Lab to support development projects
Attend client sites to maintain and service Open Energi electrical equipment
Maintain Asset Register of Open Energi equipment
Provide feedback on solutions to support continuous improvement
Essential Skills & Knowledge
Have a wide interest in how and why things work
Strong competence using engineering hand tools and equipment
Aptitude for electro mechanical assembly (or similar related discipline); demonstrate manual dexterity
Ability to work from electrical drawings and wiring diagrams
Sharp, quick, dedicated and innovative problem solver, methodical with strong analytical skills
Effective communication skills, both verbal and written
Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office suite
Robust work ethic showing high levels of reliability, punctuality and dependability
Eager to continuously grow and learn new skills
Demonstrate good attention to detail along with a desire for continuous improvement
Teamworking and the ability to build strong relationships with co-workers
Recognised qualification and experience in electrical safe working practices
Full UK driving licence with own vehicle
Desired Skills & Knowledge
17th edition electrician qualified
Experience working in an industrial site environment
BMS (Tridium, Trend) or PLC
Knowledge of networking and communication protocols (RS232, RS485, IP, Modbus, BACnet)
Take care for personal health and safety and that of others who may be affected by your acts or omissions
Carry out assigned tasks and duties in a safe manner, in accordance with instructions and comply with safety rules/procedures, regulations and codes of practice
Co-operate with others on health and safety, and not interfere with or misuse anything provided for your health, safety or welfare
Report any accident, hazard, near-miss, dangerous occurrence or dangerous condition to your line manager and/or raise the appropriate Hazard/Near Miss Report
Co-operate with the company, clients and sub-contractors to enable them to discharge their own responsibilities successfully and safely
Your electricity demand may be more flexible than you realise. Our analysis suggests that on average up to 50% of a business’ electricity demand can be shifted for up to one hour, with zero disruption to operational performance.
This flexibility is vital to support more renewable power and create a sustainable energy future.
In the UK, it’s created a £9 billion market opportunity. But how much could it be worth to your business?
Open Energi’s Flexible Energy Survey service provides an accurate, independent assessment of your site’s total demand flexibility and the commercial opportunity it represents for your business.
Comprehensive site survey carried out by qualified engineers with unique experience assessing distributed energy resources for demand-side incentives.
Detailed feasibility report identifying the total flexibility of your site, asset-specific strategies, integration solutions and commercial benefits.
For more details or to arrange a survey, please get in touch.
Open Energi VR works well on desktop, better on mobile and best with a VR headset. Please note, the figures used in this VR are based on current market data and Open Energi’s experience with similar assets and processes across a wide range of sectors. They are intended only as a guide and are no guarantee of future value.
National Grid recently confirmed the Triad dates for Winter 2017-18. As most businesses know all too well, consuming electricity during a Triad is extremely costly, so accurately predicting and avoiding these three half-hour peak periods is vital. Open Energi’s machine learning approach correctly predicted the specific half-hour Settlement Period (SP) for all three Triad days in 2017-18. Wouter Kimman, Data Scientist at Open Energi, looks back at what happened this year, the growing need for precision forecasting, and what the future may hold.
Triad season 2017-18
The demand patterns and Triad results seen in 2017-18 demonstrate the strength of the Triad incentive. But, as more businesses shift their demand making the ‘peak’ flatter, identifying the right SP is becoming more of a challenge.
The 2017-18 Triads all occurred on a Monday, but with a different SP for each, spanning 35 (5-5.30pm), 36 (5.30-6pm) and 37 (6-6.30pm) by order of date; see Figure 1. The 26 February was the latest Triad to date and only the second time it has fallen in SP 37. Given that historically, 85% of Triads have fallen within SP 35, this represents quite a shift.
The trend for falling overall electricity demand continued, with all three Triad days below 50GW. Comparing the daily peak figures to previous winters (Figure 2) we see the spread between the extremes (lowest and highest daily peak) was also reduced, with peak demand more concentrated around the average 45 GW.
However, quite possibly due to Triad avoidance techniques, the timings of daily peaks were spread out across the evening period, including many more during SP 34. Comparing days with peak demand greater than 46 GW in the last 2 winters to previous years in Figure 3, this past winter had a profoundly different pattern; even compared to last winter, shown on the left.
Another clear example of the impact of Triad avoidance was provided by the Beast from the East, which gave rise to an exceptional late and severe cold spell. This year’s largest demand peak actually fell on 1 March, just outside the Triad season. The demand profile for that day (Figure 4) shows a very distinct peak, much more characteristic of days of low demand, outside the winter. In contrast, days with high demand within the Triad season had a flatter peak, as seen in Figure 4. As more behind-the-meter flexibility comes on-line the impact of Triad avoidance will continue to be seen on the national daily demand profile, making predictions ever more difficult.
These shifts in the national daily demand show how successful businesses have been at avoiding Triad periods, aided by increasingly sophisticated strategies. Triad management can now be automated and optimised according to a site’s specific energy profile (and the company’s risk appetite). Using Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand 2.0, our cutting edge machine learning approach enables companies to precisely target a specific SP, minimising calls, disruption, and manual intervention.
As many of our customer’s operations are not able to switch off for long periods of time without disruption (e.g. bitumen tanks that need occasional heating to stay within temperature setpoints, or sewage treatment plants that have a continuous usage pattern) there is considerable value in precisely identifying the 30-minute window in which they should reduce demand. Knowing exactly when a Triad might start allows us to manage equipment to avoid impacting operational performance; Triads can be successfully avoided without allowing processes to violate their permitted control parameter ranges.
For batteries of limited storage duration, this can be even more significant as they can export to the grid during peak-prices. Depending on their capacity, it can be vital to issue a dispatch at the right time, ensuring the system has sufficient state of charge to realise maximum revenue.
To minimise the number of unnecessary calls, Open Energi updates the prediction during the day, given the latest information. An initial prediction gives a good indication of the likelihood of a Triad occuring, and over the season gives rise to around 20 warnings. During the day we then update our prediction, exploiting available real-time data. This allows us to cut the total number of Triad calls in half, while accounting for the uncertainties involved. By using the latest machine learning techniques, and real-time automated dispatch, over the course of a year the total number of Triad calls can be thus be reduced; disruption is reduced while value is maintained.
Outlook for Triads
The electricity system must be able to meet peak demand; enough investment in the network must be provided in order that it can deliver the peak amount of electricity to homes and businesses. Triads are the current way that the transmission network is paid for. At present, there is a significant advantage to businesses in reducing their demand at peak, and as a result, the system peak has reduced. In theory at least (while the price signal exists), less copper is required.
While businesses are focused on avoiding Triad costs, Ofgem is increasingly concerned that their success is creating an unfair charging system, where those least able to afford the cost of the network (i.e. less well-off domestic users) end up paying more than their fair share. Consequently, Ofgem is in the middle of a network charging review expected to result in changes to the Triad system from April 2020. Its intention is to create a fairer charging structure where large, non-domestic users cannot avoid paying their fair share of network costs.
In the meantime, Winter 2018-19 will see two charging reforms coming into effect; updates to Distribution use of System (DUoS) charging and the start of embedded benefit reform. DUoS charges are being ‘flattened out’ across the day, while Triad payments for exporting from distributed generation will reduce gradually from £47/kW to £3.22/kW over the next three years.
As the policy landscape continues to shift – and new markets emerge – we expect the task of managing behind-the-meter flexibility to deliver value becoming an increasingly intricate exercise. The ability to manage demand and generation assets in real-time, according to different site characteristics and constraints, will be crucial to choosing the right course of action to maximise client value.
Increasing levels of solar PV are having a growing impact on the operation of the low voltage (LV) network. The need for new grid connections has impacted project viability and in some areas of the country Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) have been forced to limit new solar integration. However, new technologies are introducing ways to make smarter use of the abundant free energy provided by the sun and deliver new revenue streams, without the need for costly infrastructure upgrades.
Funded by Innovate UK, this innovative research project aims to support greater solar PV integration, by forecasting solar output in near-time with better accuracy, and enabling generation to interact dynamically with demand.
In the South West of England, where these challenges are particularly acute due to a constrained network, Meniscus Systems, BRE National Solar Centre, Cornwall Council and Open Energi are collaborating to create short-interval (every 5 minutes), location-specific solar intensity and power predictions that will improve local grid operation, optimise the performance of solar farms and enable operators to participate in Demand Side Response (DSR) schemes to maximise revenue, with or without energy storage.
Cornwall has the fewest grid interconnections with the largest solar PV installed capacity – over 475MW of large-scale (1MW+) solar farms – leading to network operating problems. Resulting constraints imposed by the DNO make it harder to connect large scale renewable generation. The ability to better predict and manage the performance of solar PV on the LV network is an important step towards the creation of local energy markets, and will help to ensure that Cornwall’s residents, communities and local economy benefit from the low carbon energy transition.
The project will make use of:
Real-time and historic satellite based imagery to predict solar intensity for any location at intervals of 5 minutes on an hour ahead basis.
Historic and near real-time PV data from the Cornwall Council solar farm at Cornwall Airport Newquay (CAN) to test and demonstrate the system and explore the role of on-site battery storage.
Open Energi’s expertise to deliver accurate, real-time PV-based DSR solutions to DNOs and owner/operators of solar farms to more efficiently manage local networks.
Accurately modelling the commercial benefits of solar PV and battery storage will be an important aspect of the project. If predicted solar generation is higher than the export limit of the site, a battery can be charged instead of curtailing generation, discharged to grid during a later period of high demand, and in the meantime the battery can be employed for DSR. For a site with no installed storage, generation can be curtailed at times when the network is constrained in response to DSR signals, such as Demand Turn-Up. Accurate predictions allow the DNO or Transmission System Operator (National Grid) to efficiently manage their network
With the UK’s solar capacity forecast to rise to 15.7GW by 2020 – from just over 9.3GW at present – using advanced technology to more efficiently integrate and optimise solar PV sites is vital to create a more sustainable energy future. Due for completion in early 2019, this project aims to pave the way for the smarter use of solar PV via peer-to-peer energy markets that benefit local communities, delivering a smarter, more flexible energy system across the UK.
The lead Project Team comprise:
Meniscus Systems – Project Lead and delivery of solar intensity predictions in a form that will allow integration with the DSR market.
Cornwall Council – owner/operator of solar farm which will be used to test and demonstrate the system.
BRE National Solar Centre – responsible for ensuring the system meets the requirements of the PV industry and validating the system’s performance.
Open Energi – DSR aggregator responsible for identifying DSR revenue opportunities and systems needed to deliver this capability.
A U.K. consortium led by blockchain technology developer Electron aims to start testing an “energy eBay” in the first half of this year.
The consortium is looking to test bilateral trading toward the middle of the year, said Electron’s chief operating officer, Joanna Hubbard, who will be speaking at the Blockchain in Energy Forum hosted by GTM in March.
The trading platform will be “a shared marketplace for energy assets to respond to pricing signals,” she said. It aims to support new flexibility markets being launched by grid operators and utilities.
Last month saw the announcement of almost £30million in Government funding for V2G projects. Open Energi is part of a consortium which secured funding to develop the first large-scale domestic trial of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging in the UK, as part of a three-year, £7million project.
The consortium, named PowerLoop, comprises Open Energi, Octopus Energy, Octopus Electric Vehicles, UK Power Networks, ChargePoint Services, Energy Saving Trust and Navigant. Together, our objective is to roll out V2G charging technology to UK electric vehicle (EV) drivers in the next 12 months. Over the course of the three-year project we aim to demonstrate the benefits of using domestic V2G to support the grid, reduce costs and deliver a more sustainable future.
A total of 135 V2G chargers will be installed in a ‘cluster’ delivery model that will facilitate research into the impact of widespread EV rollout on the UK’s electricity grid. EV drivers will be able to access a special V2G bundle, Octopus PowerLoop, when leasing a V2G compatible car. A two-way charger will enable the driver to charge their vehicle intelligently, using their vehicle battery to power their home during peak times or sell spare power back to the grid. The project will also focus on the role of EVs in delivering flexibility services to the local network.
This smart charging approach means EVs can be managed to the benefit of the system, accelerating the transition to a sustainable energy future, supporting low carbon growth and creating value for the driver.
Recent analysis by Open Energi found that EVs could provide over 11GW of flexible capacity to the UK’s energy system by 2030, demonstrating their huge potential as a significant grid resource, able to provide flexibility to support renewable generation, balance electricity supply and demand and alleviate strain on the network at a local and national level.
The technological challenge is to drive down the cost of single phase, bi-directional chargers and to develop software that controls the charging of many thousands of batteries distributed around Britain, without impacting drivers.
Open Energi will lead on developing a bespoke V2G aggregation platform and will work alongside UK Power Networks towards integrating domestic V2G into their flexibility services. We will draw on our extensive experience of working with businesses to connect, aggregate and optimise industrial equipment, battery storage and generation assets on a second-by-second basis, for participation in Demand Side Response schemes. This includes a project at South Mimms Welcome Break Motorway services, on the outskirts of London, where we operate a Tesla Powerpack alongside one of Tesla’s largest and busiest UK charging locations.
By working with EV owners and the distribution network operator – UK Power Networks – the consortium will demonstrate the beneﬁts of using domestic EV batteries to provide grid ﬂexibility, cheaper transport and energy to homeowners, and help to accelerate the decarbonisation of the UK’s power and transport sectors.
Headquartered in London with global ambitions, Open Energi is an energy tech company applying artificial intelligence and data-driven insight to radically reduce the cost of delivering and consuming power.
Our advanced technology platform connects, aggregates and optimises distributed energy assets in real-time, maximising value for end users and providing invisible demand flexibility when and where it is most needed to create a more sustainable energy future.
We’re breaking new ground in demand-side management, working with leading businesses, suppliers, developers and world-renowned technology partners to deliver innovative solutions that put our customers in control of how, when and from where they consume electricity.
If you would enjoy the challenge of deploying a ground-breaking technology into an emerging market and want to work for an innovative company where you have complete belief in the product and service you represent, we might be just the place for you.
Database & Systems administrator – the role
The role of Database & Systems administrator involves working within Open Energi’s technical team to manage and ensure the integrity of our database and systems infrastructure.
Manage, develop and support databases, process and systems
Implement monitoring and automate routine maintenance tasks
Design and evolve database architecture to support application development
Help define best practice at Open Energi for cloud application deployment and management
Minimise the risk of database/system failures
Support the data science team in developing data movement or transformation processes
Knowledge & Skills
The successful candidate will be expected to manage both our legacy environment (SQL 2008R2, Windows Server 2008) and support our software team with development of our new system (Azure-based, with both Azure SQL DB/Warehouse and Linux VMs).
Have experience with Microsoft SQL Server 2008+ administration
Have very good knowledge of T-SQL
Be familiar with at least one scripting language (eg. Python)
Have knowledge of Windows server administration
Have a proactive attitude and an inquisitive nature
Be willing to learn new technologies and languages
Experience with data transformation and manipulation automation, possibly using a tool like SSIS
Basic familiarity with Linux server administration
Exposure to cloud computing, preferably Microsoft Azure
Familiarity with git version control
Familiarity with configuration management tools like Terraform or Ansible
Please send a covering letter and CV to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the quantity of applications we receive, we regret that we are unable to give specific feedback on unsuccessful applications.