BNEF Future of Energy Summit

BNEF logo

Since its inception in 2008, the BNEF Future of Energy Summit has featured a unique convergence of the old and the new – traditional players and advanced-energy leaders. It continues to create an environment for making new connections, and serves as a forum to discuss the critical energy issues of today and the next decade.

Date: 1st-2nd October 2018

Location: Intercontinental Hotel, Mayfair, London

Speaker: David Hill, Commercial Director

Further information is available from the conference website.

Discover the value of your demand flexibility – explore our VR world!

Open Energi VR landscape

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?

Explore our Virtual Reality world to find out:

vr.openenergi.com 

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.

It includes:

  • 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.

 

Innovative research project aims to support greater local integration of Solar PV

solar panels

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.

For more details, please get in touch.

Robyn Lucas is Head of Data Science, Open Energi

New consortium to develop domestic V2G charging technology in UK

EV smart charging

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.

By Dagoberto Cedillos, Strategy & Innovation Lead, Open Energi

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.

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.

Smart Energy Marketplace 2018

Smart Energy Marketplace

Regen’s Smart Energy Marketplace is the largest smart and renewable energy event in the south-west, taking place on 19 June at Sandy Park Exeter and attended by over 500 leading companies from across the clean energy and built environment sectors.

Now in its eighth year, the event has evolved to provide the perfect platform for industry experts to focus on the energy system as a whole, including energy efficiency, the gas network, electricity systems and disruptive new technologies such as energy storage and electric vehicle infrastructure.

Date: 19 June 2018

Location: Sandy Park, Exeter

Topic: Local flexibility markets

Speaker: Robyn Lucas, Head of Data Science

Further information is available from the event website.

Securing Digital Distributed Energy Infrastructure

Open Energi Engineer

The Internet of Things (IoT), a term used to denote the digital infrastructure where any digitalised asset, no matter how small, can connect to an invisible mesh of other assets through the internet, has recently become synonymous with security breaches and exploitation. This is true not just in a domestic setting, where flaws in Samsung’s ‘Smart Home’ let hackers unlock doors and set off fire alarms[1], but also in industrial IoT systems, where hackers were able to change the levels of chemicals being used to treat tap water[2]. While security breaches in websites are common, with credit card details frequently stolen, breaches to industrial systems connected to the internet are fewer and more recent, as such systems were previously isolated from public networks.

In the world of Demand Side Response (DSR), security is one of the priorities of most asset owners. DSR assets have a core purpose other than helping to balance the energy system, so a DSR provider must be able to demonstrate that they will never prevent the safe and correct operation of the asset, be that treating wastewater in a sewage treatment facility or refrigerating food in a supermarket. This condition must hold even in the presence of bugs in the DSR provider’s software, and even if their own systems are penetrated by hackers. The usual practices of data encryption, strong access controls and network segregation only provide part of the answer, as they still don’t guarantee safe operation under all possible failure modes.

This condition may seem unreasonable, but in critical systems development it is crucial. A nuclear facility operating normally is run through a software system, but all safety-critical checks are duplicated in hardware interlocks that take over should the software fail in any way[3]. These interlocks are immutable and thus immune to hacking or software bugs. In space missions, NASA has since the Challenger and Columbia incidents started to use consensus of multiple software systems developed by several independent teams to control rocket operation to eliminate the possibility that a single bug could affect the mission[4].

As the DSR industry progresses towards standardisation and common best practice guidelines, a key safety requirement must be safe operation of the asset under any failure mode. Open Energi on-site controllers are always supplemented by independent hardware or software interlocks that cannot be modified by us, creating an orthogonal layer of control required to operate critical assets. For example, on asphalt sites, we supplement our own controls with hardware interlocks to disable our control should the temperature of the tank increase beyond a safe limit. On water sites, we augment our controls with independently developed PLC code that checks that the asset is still within its control parameters and disables our control immediately if not. This dual layer of security means that even if our systems are compromised by an attacker, the DSR assets will continue to operate safely.

Michael Bironneau is Technical Director at Open Energi.

[1]     Wired Magazine. May 2016. ‘Flaws in Samsung Smart home let hackers unlock doors and set off fire alarms’. https://www.wired.com/2016/05/flaws-samsungs-smart-home-let-hackers-unlock-doors-set-off-fire-alarms/

[2]     The Register. March 2016. ‘Water treatment plant hacked, chemical mix changed for tap supplies’. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/24/water_utility_hacked/

[3]     L.J. Jardine and M.M. Moshkov. Nuclear Materials Safety Management, Vol 2. 1998. See eg. p.151.

[4]     Organizational Learning at NASA: The Challenger and Columbia Incidents. 1989. J. Mahler. See eg. p.63.

How demand flexibility can boost the benefit of a Corporate PPA

solar panels

More and more companies are turning to corporate PPAs as a way to power their business sustainably and manage their long-term energy costs. Using demand flexibility to help align patterns of supply and demand can boost the benefits all round, as Open Energi’s Commercial Analyst, Dago Cedillos, explains.

The rise of corporate PPAs

The increasing cost competitiveness of renewables and the desire from many businesses to strengthen their sustainability credentials has led to the rise in popularity of the corporate PPA. Through a corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), a company agrees to purchase the energy produced by a renewable project(s). This helps businesses to meet their sustainability goals whilst enabling them to hedge against future energy prices and even bring down the cost of their current energy bill.

Renewable developers have turned to corporate PPAs as a means to enable the delivery of their pipelines. With the removal of subsidies such as the Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) here in the UK, PPAs can help developers  finance and develop projects by securing long-term energy sale contracts which guarantee revenue for a substantial part of the project lifetime.

How does a corporate PPA work?

A corporate PPA is a contract between a renewable power producer and a corporate, agreeing to supply a specified volume of electricity at an agreed price. It is usually structured to last for 10 years or more, considerably longer than an energy supply tariff which tend to be for one to three years.

There’s no need for the corporate and the renewable project to be located near one another – they could be next door to each other or located on opposite sides of the country.

Of course a company’s demand will not always match a project’s generation. To manage this disparity companies have to go through a licensed supplier who will trade and settle in the market the surplus energy they do not use and/or the additional energy they may require, guaranteeing power delivery and assuming responsibility for issuing the corporate’s electricity. Suppliers take a fee or a premium for administration and taking the risk of balancing the residual of the renewable generation and the company’s electricity demand.

Aligning supply and demand

For example: let’s say a factory with demand profile X (blue line) agrees a PPA with a small solar farm with generation profile Y (grey line). The factory effectively consumes energy generated by the solar farm represented by shaded area A. The area B represents the additional energy that must be bought by the supplier to meet the factory’s demand, whilst the area C represents the surplus renewable energy that is sold to another party as the site’s demand has already been met.

Matching factory demand and renewable generation

The cost of this residual balancing will be affected by market dynamics and the premium charged by the supplier for managing this process.

The overall business benefit of a PPA will be determined by a number of factors, including the demand profile of the site, generation profile of the asset, market prices and the structure of the agreement with the supplier. But the more responsive a corporate’s demand can be to these factors, the better positioned they will be to maximise the benefits of a PPA.

Cutting costs with demand flexibility

This is where demand side response (DSR) and energy storage come in; shifting demand to more closely match the project’s renewable generation profile could maximise the effective consumption of this energy real-time and result in lower residual balancing. This would mean having to buy less energy during the shortage periods, which might be more expensive than that offered by the PPA, and selling back less energy during the surplus periods. Additionally, it could help decrease the imbalance risk of the supplier and make the case for a lower fee or premium.

Demand flexibility and corporate PPAsIt could also present arbitrage opportunities for the business. By shifting consumption away from peak times to cheaper periods, surplus energy from the PPA can be sold on at a high rate, while avoiding punishing network and capacity market charges which occur at the same time. Flexibility could even be used to respond to instantaneous market opportunities, such as high system prices occurring with mismatch in supply and demand, much in the way the trading team of a supplier would do today with large generators.

Optimising a PPA with demand flexibilityThe value of this balancing achieved through flexibility with storage and DSR will vary across hours, days and seasons according to changing market conditions and patterns of supply and demand. What’s needed is technology that can evaluate these parameters in real-time, and optimise a business’ demand accordingly. This is where Open Energi comes in. We’re using our advanced technology, data-driven insight and experience of invisibly managing demand flexibility to help corporates make the most of their PPA.

Our solutions not only help to balance the grid, but can also balance demand real-time against PPA generation. This means businesses can make better use of cheap, renewable energy when it’s there, lower costs for suppliers, and ultimately bring their own energy bills down.

Dago Cedillos is a Commercial Analyst at Open Energi, where he focuses on innovative methods and business models to enable a more flexible energy system. Prior to Open Energi, Dago was part of a clean-tech startup working on a novel carbon-negative electricity generation technology. Dago has an MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures from Imperial College London, and has published a paper on investment strategies for decarbonisation and decentralized energy systems.

How Artificial Intelligence is shaping the future of energy

Artificial Intelligence can unlock demand side flexibility for end users

Across the globe, energy systems are changing, creating unprecedented challenges for the organisations tasked with ensuring the lights stay on. In the UK, large fossil fuelled power stations are being replaced by increasing levels of widely distributed wind and solar generation. This renewable power is clean and free at the point of use but it cannot always be relied upon. To date National Grid has managed this intermittency by keeping polluting power stations online to make up the difference but Artificial Intelligence offers an alternative approach.

What’s needed is a smart grid which can integrate renewable energy efficiently at scale without having to keep polluting power stations online to manage intermittency. This requires energy storage to act as a buffer, reducing demand when supply is too low or increasing it when it is too high. Most people associate energy storage with batteries, but the cheapest and cleanest type of energy storage comes from flexibility in our demand for energy.

This demand-side flexibility takes advantage of thermal or pumped energy stored in everyday equipment and processes, from an office air-con unit, supermarket fridge or industrial furnace through to water pumped and stored in a local reservoir. The electricity consumption patterns of these types of devices are not necessarily time-critical. Provided they operate within certain parameters – such as room temperature or water levels – they can be flexible about when they use energy.

This means that when electricity demand outstrips supply, instead of ramping up a fossil fuelled power station, certain types of equipment can defer their electricity use temporarily. And if the wind blows and too much electricity is being supplied instead of paying wind farms to turn off we can ask equipment to use more now instead of later.

Making our demand for electricity “intelligent” in this way means we can provide vital capacity when and where it is most needed and pave the way for a cleaner, more affordable, and more secure energy system. The key lies in unlocking and using demand-side flexibility so that consumers are a) not impacted and b) appropriately rewarded.

At Open Energi, we’ve been exploring how artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques can be leveraged to orchestrate massive amounts of demand-side flexibility – from industrial equipment, co-generation and battery storage systems – towards the one goal of creating a smarter grid.

We have spent the last 6 years working with some of the UK’s leading companies to manage their flexible demand in real-time and help balance electricity supply and demand UK-wide.  In this time, we have connected to over 3,500 assets at over 350 sites, operating invisibly deep with business processes, to enable equipment to switch on and off in response to fluctuations in supply and demand.

Already, we are well on the way to realising a smarter grid, but to unlock the full potential of demand-side flexibility, we need to adopt a portfolio level approach. Artifical intelligence and machine learning techniques are making this possible, enabling us to look across multiple assets on a customer site, and given all the operational parameters in place, make intelligent, real-time decisions to maximise their total flexibility and deliver the greatest value at any given moment in time.

For example, a supermarket may have solar panels on its roof and a battery installed on site, as well as flexibility inherent in its air-con and refrigeration systems. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning means we can find creative ways to reschedule the power consumption of many assets in synchrony, helping National Grid to balance the system while minimising the cost of consuming that power for energy users.

Lack of data is often an obstacle to progress but we collect between 10,000 and 25,000 messages per second relating to 30 different data points and perform tens of millions of switches per year. This data is forming the basis of a model which can look at a sequence of actions leading to the rescheduling of power consumption and make grid-scale predictions saying “this is what it would cost to take these actions”. The bleeding edge in deep reinforcement learning shows how, even with very large scale problems like this one, there are optimisation techniques we can use to minimise this cost beyond what traditional models would offer.

Artificial Intelligence model learning to control the electricity consumption of a portfolio of assets

Graph of AI model

More rapid progress could be made across the industry if energy companies made more anonymised half-hourly power data available. It would enable companies working on smart grid technologies to validate these ideas quickly and cheaply. In the same vein, it would be a major breakthrough for balancing electricity supply and demand if energy companies made available APIs for reporting and accessing flexibility; it would allow companies like Open Energi to unlock enormous amounts of demand-side flexibility and put it to good use balancing not just the grid but also helping to optimise the market positions of those same energy companies.

In the UK alone, we estimate there is 6 gigawatts of demand-side flexibility which can be shifted during the evening peak without affecting end users. Put into context, this is equivalent to roughly 10% of peak winter demand and larger than the expected output of the planned Hinkley Point C – the UK’s first new nuclear power station in generations.  Artificial Intelligence can help us to unlock this demand-side flexibility and build an electricity system fit for the future; one which cuts consumer bills, integrates renewable energy efficiently, and secures our energy supplies for generations to come.

Michael Bironneau is Technical Director at Open Energi. He graduated from Loughborough University in 2014 with a PhD in Mathematics and has been writing software since the age of 10.