2017 in review: breakthrough tech and tumbling renewable records demand greater flexibility

2017 was a year of dramatic change in the UK electricity market. Overall, total UK electricity consumption fell 2.8% compared to the previous year: 264 TWh compared to 272 TWh in 2016[1]. This follows the long-term trend of decreasing peak and total yearly energy use, while the proportion of renewable generation continued to rise: 2017 smashed 13 clean energy records, low carbon generation exceeded fossil fuels, and the resulting trend for negative prices (as recent as last week in Germany thanks to high wind) looks set to continue.

Last year also saw a fall in the strike price for new offshore wind power to £57.50/MWh. Considering the government’s guaranteed price for Hinkley Point C is £92.50/MWh, it highlights just how competitive renewables, and particularly offshore wind, now are. However, the system must be able to cope with the intermittency that all this cheap, carbon-free power brings.

Figure 1 shows the huge variation in demand over the year: from peaks of nearly 50GW on winter evenings, to troughs of around 17GW on summer nights. Figure 2 shows the average daily profile of consumption. In 2017, the prize for peak demand goes to January 26th, which came in at 49.76 GW at 6pm. Compare this to the profile of June 11th, the day that the UK used the least energy: at 5am, it was 16.57 GW. This swing of over 30 GW presents many challenges for the system operator as more and more of the generation becomes intermittent and demand patterns shift: there is value in being flexible with one’s electricity consumption.

 

Figure 1. Daily demand over the year, and smoothed trend over the year.
Figure 1. Daily demand over the year, and smoothed trend over the year.

 

Figure 2. Peak and lowest demand of 2017, compared to the average daily profile.
Figure 2. Peak and lowest demand of 2017, compared to the average daily profile.

Historically, our electricity system has been built to cope with the peaks; and paying for this network accounts for around 30% of your electricity bill (and rising). What if, by being a bit smarter about when we use our electricity, we could flatten the swing out a little? Or better still, align it to renewable generation?

This is where demand flexibility comes in, empowering consumers and playing a vital role in providing the responsiveness needed to cope with huge swings in renewable generation as it makes up more and more of the UK’s generation mix.

Transforming the network

2017 will be known as the break-through year of batteries and electric vehicles (EVs). With the dramatic fall in battery prices we’ve seen a rush of parties buying up battery capacity, hoping to profit from what were lucrative flexibility markets. National Grid have seen batteries flooding into the Firm Frequency Response (FFR) market, attempting to secure profitable long-term contracts to satisfy investors. Market dynamics mean this is increasingly challenging. In a rapidly changing marketplace, a variety of revenue streams must be considered. Battery operation must encapsulate multiple markets to insure against future movements and maximise profits, while ensuring safe and careful operation of the asset such that state of charge, warranty, and connection limits are respected, an area where Open Energi has significant expertise.

EV take-up is accelerating more quickly than many estimated – UK sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids were up 27% in 2017 – and the need for managing this additional demand in a smart, automated way is crucial to alleviate strain on local networks. We have explored the enormous potential of EVs to provide flexible grid capacity and are working with a consortium to deliver the UK’s first domestic V2G trial.

While in the short term, as the big electricity players try to keep up with the changing needs of the system, flexibility markets present a degree of uncertainty, the long term need for demand-side response (DSR) and frequency regulation cannot be underestimated.

Grid Frequency and FFR

As the System Operator, National Grid must maintain a stable grid frequency of 50Hz. Generation and demand on the system must be balanced on a second-by-second basis to ensure power suppliers are maintained. Traditional thermal plant operates with physically rotating turbines, which carry physical inertia and act to stabilise the frequency. With the increase in generation from non-inertial sources (e.g. wind turbines, which don’t carry inertia in the same way, and PV cells), this stability is reduced. Larger deviations in frequency can result in the event of a power station, or interconnector trip, for example.

During 2017, the largest low frequency event (demand greater than supply) occurred on 13th July, when it dropped to 49.57Hz. Given that National Grid’s mandate is to keep it within 0.5Hz of 50Hz, this was rather close! Figure 3 shows the period, and we see a sudden drop in frequency which typically indicates the trip of a significant generator. In this case, the fault was at the French interconnector. Here, what usually functions to improve energy continuity and smoothen geographical variations in supply was the culprit for the biggest second-by-second imbalance in 2017!

The largest high frequency event (supply greater than demand), during which frequency reached 50.41Hz, occurred at the end of October, was much more gradual and seems to have been due to a combination of several effects. Demand typically drops quite steeply this late in the day, so large CCGT plants are reducing their output and on this occasion a sudden drop in wind-generation seemed to have been over-compensated by pumped storage.

Figure 3. Lowest and Highest frequency extremes in 2017.
Figure 3. Lowest and Highest frequency extremes in 2017.

As well as these relatively rare large frequency events, there are excursions that can last for several hours. Figure 4 shows two periods where the frequency deviated from 50 Hz. In general, the average frequency is 50Hz, and therefore any response to frequency regulation averages out to zero. However, over these medium-term time periods the average frequency is not 50Hz. For flexible assets like batteries, that are dynamically responding to correct grid frequency during such periods (performing FFR) the state of charge is affected.

For this reason, the state of charge of the battery must be actively, and automatically, managed – so that optimal state of charge is quickly recovered after such events. The battery is then able to continue to perform FFR, or other services such as peak price avoidance or price arbitrage in wholesale markets. The state of charge (bottom panels in Figure 4) can also have strict warranty limits set by the manufacturer.

Figure 4: Extended frequency events and impact on battery state of charge
Figure 4: Extended frequency events and impact on battery state of charge

Interestingly, 2017 saw an increase in both the number of frequency events (usually defined as frequency excursions larger than 0.2Hz away from 50Hz), and frequency mileage (defined as the cumulative deviation of the grid frequency away from 50 Hz), shown in Figure 5, particularly during the spring and autumn.

Could this be due to the large, somewhat unknown amount of PV on the system? It is distributed, meaning National Grid see PV generation as a fall in demand; they also have no control over it (unlike most other generation). PV efficiency is high in cold weather, so perhaps unexpectedly high and erratic solar generation on cold, sunny days in the Spring and Autumn led to a more unstable system this year, compared to 2016.

Figure 5. The grid has experienced more mileage and more events in 2016 than 2017, especially in March and October. Frequency “event” here is defined as a deviation of 0.1 Hz around 50Hz.
Figure 5. The grid has experienced more mileage and more events in 2016 than 2017, especially in March and October. Frequency “event” here is defined as a deviation of 0.1 Hz around 50Hz.

Figure 5. The grid has experienced more mileage and more events in 2016 than 2017, especially in March and October. Frequency “event” here is defined as a deviation of 0.1 Hz around 50Hz.

The rise of distributed generation, accelerating EV uptake, and plunging battery storage costs, are all driving a rapid transformation in the UK’s electricity system.  Managing these changes requires new approaches.  Demand-side response technologies, like Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand 2.0 platform, mean patterns of demand can be shifted in a completely carbon neutral way; enabling electricity to be consumed when it’s being generated: as the wind blows, or the sun shines. Rather than inefficiently changing the output of a gas fired power station to meet demand, we can make smart changes in demand up and down the country to meet generation, deliver local flexibility, and put consumers in control of their energy bills: delivering completely invisible, completely automated, intelligent DSR which paves the way for a more sustainable energy future.

By Wouter Kimman, Data Scientist, Open Energi

[1] For demand here and throughout this post we use INDO values as reported by ELEXON Ltd.

New Power: Consortium to roll out vehicle-to-grid trials this year

A consortium of Octopus Energy, Octopus Electric Vehicles, Open Energi, UK Power Networks, ChargePoint Services, Energy Saving Trust and Navigant is launching a large domestic trial of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging.

The consortium will roll out vehicle-to-grid charging technology to UK electric vehicle drivers this year. The £7 million project – with £3 million of government funding – will install 135 vehicle-to-grid chargers in a ‘cluster’. Customers will be able take vehicles for a test drive and access a special Vehicle to Grid (V2G) bundle.

Read the full article.

Utility Week: Consortium to drive major UK vehicle-to-grid trial for EVs

A new consortium has been launched to develop the first large-scale UK domestic trial of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging technology for drivers of electric vehicles (EV).

The £7 million Octopus V2G project from Octopus Energy, Octopus Electric Vehicles, UK Power Networks, ChargePoint Services, Open Energi, Energy Saving Trust and Navigant has been granted £3 million of government funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, and is backed by Innovate UK.

The smart technology trial is set to be rolled out this year and will see 135 vehicle-to-grid chargers installed in a ‘cluster’ to see how much spare capacity from car batteries can be collected.

Read the full article.

The Future of Utilities 2018

Now in its 23rd year, The Future of Utilities is one of the UK’s leading energy and water summits. The event aims to strike a balance between cross-industry discussion and in-depth exploration into customer interactions, energy, and water, to provide the best environment for strategic consultation of all critical issues facing today’s decision-makers.

Date: 20-21st March 2018

Location: etc.venues St Paul’s, London

Topic: How can demand-side response help to deliver a decarbonised energy system?

Speaker: David Hill, Commercial Director

Time: 12.25, Energy Stage, 21st March

Further information is available from the conference website.

Project Manager

solar panels

About Us

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.

Project Manager Role

The role of Project Manager involves working with colleagues across Open Energi’s various departments to provide project management structure and governance for both internal and external projects. Experience and track record of implementing successful multi-site and multi-project delivery, working both independently and in a team-oriented, collaborative environment is essential.

The successful candidate will be based at our London Head Office, with some travel throughout the UK. A desire to be part of our flexible, rapidly expanding and challenging organisation is highly sought, and excellent remuneration benefits will be provided for the right candidate. The position would suit an experienced project manager with Prince2 qualifications and knowledge/skills in ICA or instrumentation projects to help drive the company forward.

Project Manager – Core Functions

  • Direct and manage project development and implementation from concept to disposal
  • Define project scope, goals and deliverables that support corporate business goals in collaboration with senior management and stakeholders
  • Define project success criteria and manage delivery to meet these criteria
  • Manage day-to-day aspects of the projects and scope, including change control
  • Minimize OE’s exposure and risk on projects
  • Ensure project documents are complete, current, and stored appropriately
  • Estimate and plan availability of resources and participants necessary to achieve project goals and assign individual responsibilities, in agreement with the Open Energi Engineering Manager
  • Conduct project Wash-up Meetings and create a Lessons Learned/Recommendations report in order to identify successful and unsuccessful project elements
  • Provide input to tenders, contracts and tender-bid analysis as required

Project Manager – Other Duties

  • Take care of your own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by what you do (or do not do);
  • 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
  • Follow the training you have received when using any work items your employer has given you
  • Report any accident, hazard, near-miss, dangerous occurrence or dangerous condition to your line manager and/or raise the appropriate Hazard/Near Miss Report
  • Plan, create and execute full-scale project plans and revise as appropriate to meet changing needs and requirements
  • Identify and manage project dependencies and critical path
  • Track project milestones and deliverables.
  • Ensure project documents are complete, current, and stored appropriately.
  • Facilitate team and client meetings effectively and hold regular status meetings with project team.
  • Effectively communicate relevant project information and exceptions to management team.
  • Provide fortnightly status reports to the programme manager.
  • Resolve and/or escalate issues in a timely fashion.
  • Identify opportunities for improvement and make constructive suggestions for change

Project Manager – Skills

  • Project Finance Management including the development, submission and maintenance of budget proposals, capex & opex cost models, cash flow and cost-to-completion projections
  • Production of Capital funding documentation
  • High awareness of construction/installation site safety management.

Project Manager – Knowledge & Soft Skills

  • Prince2 qualified or similar
  • Knowledge of ICA/electrical instrumentation projects
  • Possession of a good understanding in the areas such as control systems, software product development and multi-site rollouts
  • Excellent teamwork and communication skills
  • Effectively communicate project expectations to team members and stakeholders in a timely and clear fashion.
  • Keep track of lessons learned and share those lessons with team members.
  • Manage client expectations and day-to-day client interaction.
  • Develop lasting relationships with client personnel that foster client ties.
  • Continually seek opportunities to increase customer satisfaction and deepen client relationships.
  • Suggest areas for improvement in internal processes along with possible solutions.
  • Comply with and help to enforce governance, standard policies and procedures.
  • Minimum of 5 years’ demonstrable work experience in a middle/senior project management capacity, including all aspects of product development and project execution.
  • Working knowledge of MS Office suite and project management software, such as MS Project.

Desirable

  • Certifications in MSP, APM, qualified desirable but not essential

Remuneration and Benefits

  • Competitive salary with discretionary bonus
  • Car allowance
  • Pension
  • Based in Open Energi’s London office
  • Career development opportunities

Working hours

  • Hours of Work: 09.00 to 17.00, Monday to Friday, 37.5hrs/week

To apply

Please send a covering letter and CV to recruitment@openenergi.com. Due to the quantity of applications we receive, we regret that we are unable to give specific feedback on unsuccessful applications.

The Energyst Event

The Energyst Event is an exhibition and conference designed to equip non-domestic energy users with fit-for-purpose knowledge, insight and solutions to their most demanding challenges. Promoting dialogue, discussion and interaction; the event will be a two-day forum for energy users and service providers to engage.

The event will explore the changing face of energy management and prepare the visitor for trends and technologies that will impact operations and deliver a truly integrated energy management system.

Date: 17th-18th April

Location: National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham

Further information is available from the event website.

All-Energy

All-Energy
Our Head of Data Science, Dr Robyn Lucas, is joining a panel on Energy Storage at this year’s conference to share our views on the business case for behind-the-meter battery storage.
Date: 2-3 May
Location: SEC Glasgow
Session: Smarter energy storage at the local level
Topic: Beyond FFR: making the business case for BTM battery storage
Time: 15.00-16.30, 3 May
Further information is available from the event website.

Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Innovations Conference

South Mimms supercharger

Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Innovations Conference is bringing together 10 leading EV chargepoint and technology businesses to showcase new hardware and software. These EV chargepoint innovations will improve the customer experience and contribute to the delivery of charging infrastructure across the UK.

Open Energi’s Strategy and Innovation Lead, Dagoberto Cedillos, will be speaking and sharing details of our project at South Mimms Motorway Services, where we have integrated a Tesla Powerpack with Tesla’s supercharger station to make sure that EV drivers can charge affordably without causing strain on the local network.

Date: 28th June 2018

Location: Nottingham

Topic: Battery storage integration with EV chargepoints: South Mimms case study

Speaker: Dagoberto Cedillos, Strategy and Innovation Lead

More information is available from the event website.

The Energy Transition World Forum 2018

Energy Transition World Forum

The Energy Transition World Forum is a one-day event that uniquely focuses on the changing needs of the Major Energy Customer.  As both producers and customers – driven by political and technological pressures – make the transition from “black to green” energy, evolutionary shifts are already in progress. This event will bring together energy leaders, speakers and participants from utilities, steel, manufacturing, chemical, automotive and digital disruptor industries to explore the new energy paradigm.

 

Date: 14th May 2018

Location: Okura Hotel, Amsterdam

Speaker: David Hill, Commercial Director

Topic: Industry Disruptor Keynote: How advanced technology and data-driven insight are reducing costs across the energy value chain

Time: 14.15-14.35

Further information is available from the conference website.

Water Industry Energy Conference 2018

Water industry energy conference

Open Energi is delighted to be exhibiting at Water Industry Energy Conference 2018. Now in its 5th year, the conference will explore how water companies can identify commercial opportunities in energy.

Finding innovative ways to optimise existing assets, better utilise renewable technologies and generate energy from new sources are key to cutting costs and driving efficiency, and therefore essential to a successful business strategy.

This established event will analyse the business benefits of DSR, storage and biofuels, as well as behaviour change strategies and regulatory frameworks. We look forward to seeing you there.

Date: 12th June 2018

Location: Birmingham

 

Further information is available from the conference website.