October 25, 2017 9:00 AM

Open​ ​Utility​ ​secures​ ​£412k​ ​of​ ​BEIS​ ​funding​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​a groundbreaking​ ​online​ ​marketplace​ ​for​ ​flexibility​ ​trading

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​Open​ ​Utility​ ​has​ ​secured​ ​£412,500​ ​funding​ ​from​ ​BEIS​ ​Energy Entrepreneurs​ ​Fund​ ​(EEF)​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​a​ ​groundbreaking​ ​new​ ​online​ ​marketplace​ ​for​ ​local electricity​ ​flexibility​ ​trading.​ ​The​ ​marketplace​ ​will​ ​help​ ​Distribution​ ​Network​ ​Operators (DNOs)​ ​play​ ​an​ ​active​ ​role​ ​in​ ​managing​ ​local​ ​smart​ ​grids:​ ​seen​ ​by​ ​many​ ​as​ ​a​ ​key​ ​missing​ ​piece​ ​in the​ ​transformation​ ​to​ ​a​ ​decentralised​ ​and​ ​decarbonised​ ​energy​ ​system.

With​ ​the​ ​rapid​ ​rollout​ ​of​ ​distributed​ ​renewable​ ​generation,​ ​storage​ ​and​ ​electric​ ​vehicles​ ​DNOs are​ ​facing​ ​unprecedented​ ​congestion​ ​problems​ ​on​ ​the​ ​local​ ​network.​ ​Open​ ​Utility’s​ ​platform will​ ​help​ ​DNOs​ ​transition​ ​into​ ​active​ ​“Distribution​ ​System​ ​Operators”​ ​(DSOs)​ ​that​ ​can​ ​procure customer​ ​flexibility​ ​to​ ​reduce​ ​congestion​ ​at​ ​specific​ ​times​ ​and​ ​locations;​ ​as​ ​a​ ​cost​ ​effective​ ​and agile​ ​alternative​ ​to​ ​network​ ​reinforcement.

Online​ ​marketplaces​ ​like​ ​Airbnb​ ​and​ ​Uber​ ​combine​ ​intuitive​ ​web​ ​design​ ​with​ ​scalable​ ​resource optimisation​ ​algorithms​ ​to​ ​lower​ ​barriers​ ​to​ ​entry​ ​and​ ​unlock​ ​the​ ​value​ ​of​ ​underutilised​ ​assets. Open​ ​Utility​ ​is​ ​leveraging​ ​the​ ​power​ ​of​ ​online​ ​marketplaces​ ​to​ ​solve​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​biggest challenges​ ​facing​ ​the​ ​energy​ ​industry:​ ​enabling​ ​DNOs​ ​to​ ​become​ ​DSOs.

Open​ ​Utility​ ​has​ ​built​ ​up​ ​a​ ​track​ ​record​ ​of​ ​innovating​ ​on​ ​a​ ​global​ ​scale.​ ​The​ ​flexibility marketplace​ ​will​ ​join​ ​their​ ​first​ ​product,​ ​a​ ​peer-to-peer​ ​matching​ ​service​ ​for​ ​renewable​ ​energy suppliers,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​already​ ​operational​ ​in​ ​the​ ​UK,​ ​Italy​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Netherlands.

A​ ​smart,​ ​local​ ​and​ ​flexible​ ​grid

According​ ​to​ ​a​ ​report​ ​by​ ​BEIS​ ​and​ ​Ofgem,​ ​a​ ​smart​ ​and​ ​flexible​ ​energy​ ​system​ ​could​ ​reduce​ ​UK electricity​ ​generation​ ​emissions​ ​and​ ​realise​ ​up​ ​to​ ​£17-40bn​ ​of​ ​savings​ ​by​ ​20501.​ ​These benefits​ ​come​ ​from​ ​better​ ​optimisation​ ​and​ ​operation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​system​ ​which​ ​avoids​ ​or​ ​defers network​ ​reinforcements,​ ​avoids​ ​generation​ ​build,​ ​and​ ​avoids​ ​curtailment​ ​of​ ​low​ ​carbon generation.​ ​Highly​ ​scalable​ ​services​ ​that​ ​enable​ ​customer​ ​participation​ ​in​ ​local​ ​flexibility services​ ​is​ ​fundamental​ ​to​ ​unlocking​ ​these​ ​benefits.

The​ ​rapid​ ​growth​ ​of​ ​electric​ ​vehicles​ ​(EVs)​ ​will​ ​have​ ​a​ ​particularly​ ​big​ ​impact​ ​on​ ​the​ ​local electricity​ ​network.​ ​Flexibility​ ​trading​ ​platforms​ ​will​ ​play​ ​a​ ​key​ ​role​ ​in​ ​enabling​ ​EVs​ ​to co-ordinate​ ​their​ ​charging​ ​schedules​ ​with​ ​the​ ​DSO,​ ​so​ ​the​ ​decarbonisation​ ​of​ ​transport​ ​does not​ ​require​ ​£billions​ ​of​ ​electricity​ ​network​ ​reinforcement​ ​which​ ​ultimately​ ​would​ ​have​ ​to​ ​be borne​ ​by​ ​bill​ ​payers.

Local​ ​flexibility​ ​marketplaces​ ​are​ ​mentioned​ ​as​ ​being​ ​a​ ​focus​ ​for​ ​innovation​ ​funding​ ​in​ ​the​ ​BEIS Smart​ ​Systems​ ​and​ ​Flexibility​ ​Plan.​ ​With​ ​the​ ​£412,500​ ​grant​ ​to​ ​Open​ ​Utility,​ ​BEIS​ ​are demonstrating​ ​that​ ​they​ ​are​ ​keen​ ​to​ ​turn​ ​words​ ​into​ ​action.

Ian​ ​Marchant,​ ​former​ ​CEO​ ​of​ ​SSE​ ​and​ ​investor​ ​in​ ​Open​ ​Utility,​ ​is​ ​supportive​ ​of​ ​Open​ ​Utility’s developments.​ ​Ian​ ​says:​ ​"As​ ​the​ ​energy​ ​system​ ​evolves​ ​into​ ​one​ ​that​ ​is​ ​decentralised​ ​and decarbonised​ ​the​ ​role​ ​of​ ​the​ ​local​ ​distribution​ ​companies​ ​will​ ​change​ ​fundamentally.​ ​Local​ ​and peer​ ​to​ ​peer​ ​energy​ ​and​ ​flexibility​ ​markets​ ​with​ ​play​ ​a​ ​leading​ ​role​ ​in​ ​this​ ​change​ ​and​ ​I​ ​am delighted​ ​the​ ​BEIS​ ​are​ ​sponsoring​ ​this​ ​key​ ​piece​ ​of​ ​preparatory​ ​work​ ​with​ ​Open​ ​Utility"

Value​ ​to​ ​DSOs

DSOs​ ​are​ ​beginning​ ​to​ ​trial​ ​novel​ ​approaches​ ​for​ ​procuring​ ​customer​ ​flexibility.​ ​Most​ ​notably, UK​ ​Power​ ​Networks​ ​announced​ ​in​ ​August​ ​2017​ ​that​ ​they​ ​were​ ​launching​ ​tenders​ ​for customer​ ​flexibility​ ​in​ ​10​ ​areas​ ​covering​ ​13,000​ ​postcodes​ ​in​ ​London,​ ​East​ ​Anglia​ ​and​ ​the South-East​ ​2.

However,​ ​DSOs​ ​face​ ​several​ ​challenges​ ​in​ ​making​ ​local​ ​flexibility​ ​procurement​ ​a​ ​success.​ ​They have​ ​little​ ​experience​ ​in​ ​engaging​ ​with​ ​customers,​ ​as​ ​historically​ ​they​ ​were​ ​an​ ​invisible​ ​part​ ​of the​ ​energy​ ​supply​ ​chain.​ ​Without​ ​high​ ​levels​ ​of​ ​participation​ ​in​ ​their​ ​tenders,​ ​they​ ​cannot guarantee​ ​any​ ​benefits​ ​over​ ​traditional​ ​reinforcement.​ ​Open​ ​Utility’s​ ​solution​ ​can​ ​help​ ​DSOs interact​ ​with​ ​the​ ​long​ ​tail​ ​of​ ​flexibility​ ​providers​ ​to​ ​maximise​ ​participation​ ​in​ ​their​ ​tenders.

Tender​ ​processes​ ​need​ ​to​ ​become​ ​fully​ ​automated​ ​if​ ​they​ ​can​ ​eventually​ ​scale​ ​to​ ​cover​ ​the​ ​1.7 million​ ​postcode​ ​areas​ ​in​ ​the​ ​UK.​ ​They​ ​will​ ​also​ ​need​ ​to​ ​coordinate​ ​with​ ​the​ ​System​ ​Operator, who​ ​needs​ ​to​ ​maintain​ ​overall​ ​control​ ​over​ ​national​ ​system​ ​balancing.​ ​Open​ ​Utility’s​ ​solution utilises​ ​resource-optimisation​ ​algorithms​ ​to​ ​manage​ ​this​ ​complexity​ ​and​ ​has​ ​interfaces​ ​to other​ ​interested​ ​parties​ ​like​ ​the​ ​System​ ​Operator.

We​ ​are​ ​speaking​ ​to​ ​a​ ​number​ ​of​ ​DSOs​ ​to​ ​join​ ​the​ ​trial​ ​later​ ​this​ ​year.

Value​ ​to​ ​Flexibility​ ​Providers

A​ ​key​ ​goal​ ​of​ ​the​ ​project​ ​is​ ​to​ ​lower​ ​barriers​ ​for​ ​providers​ ​to​ ​take​ ​part​ ​in​ ​local​ ​flexibility trading.​ The​ ​benefits​ ​are​ ​increased​ ​revenue​ ​opportunities​ ​which​ ​are​ ​uniquely​ ​available​ ​for distribution​ ​grid​ ​connected​ ​assets.

We​ ​will​ ​be​ ​running​ ​a​ ​consultation​ ​to​ ​engage​ ​with​ ​the​ ​flexibility​ ​community​ ​to​ ​ensure​ ​that​ ​the service​ ​fits​ ​the​ ​needs​ ​of​ ​a​ ​wide​ ​range​ ​of​ ​stakeholders,​ ​including​ ​demand-response​ ​aggregators, battery​ ​manufacturers,​ ​energy​ ​suppliers,​ ​distributed​ ​generators,​ ​project​ ​developers,​ ​electric vehicle​ ​manufacturers​ ​and​ ​technology​ ​suppliers.

Piclo​ ​Platform

Open​ ​Utility​ ​is​ ​becoming​ ​a​ ​global​ ​leader​ ​in​ ​software​ ​infrastructure​ ​for​ ​decentralised​ ​energy through​ ​their​ ​Piclo​ ​Platform.​ ​The​ ​flexibility​ ​marketplace​ ​will​ ​become​ ​the​ ​latest​ ​service​ ​to​ ​be offered​ ​on​ ​the​ ​platform.

The​ ​first​ ​commercial​ ​service​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Piclo​ ​Platform​ ​is​ ​a​ ​peer-to-peer​ ​(P2P)​ ​energy​ ​matching service​ ​for​ ​businesses​ ​who​ ​want​ ​to​ ​buy​ ​from​ ​local​ ​renewable​ ​generators.​ ​Open​ ​Utility​ ​trialed the​ ​P2P​ ​service​ ​through​ ​funding​ ​from​ ​a​ ​previous​ ​EEF​ ​award​ ​from​ ​the​ ​government​ ​in​ ​2014,​ ​and subsequently​ ​launched​ ​a​ ​commercial​ ​version​ ​with​ ​Good​ ​Energy​ ​in​ ​2016.​ ​Open​ ​Utility​ ​is​ ​now setting​ ​up​ ​trials​ ​of​ ​the​ ​P2P​ ​matching​ ​service​ ​in​ ​Italy​ ​in​ ​partnership​ ​with​ ​ERG​ ​and​ ​in​ ​the Netherlands​ ​in​ ​partnership​ ​with​ ​Essent.

About​ ​Open​ ​Utility

About​ ​Open​ ​Utility​ ​is​ ​an​ ​ambitious​ ​software​ ​company​ ​based​ ​in​ ​London.​ ​In​ ​2015​ ​Open​ ​Utility launched​ ​their​ ​flagship​ ​Piclo®​ ​peer-to-peer​ ​energy​ ​marketplace​ ​for​ ​UK​ ​business​ ​customers with​ ​their​ ​first​ ​partner​ ​Good​ ​Energy.​ ​In​ ​2017​ ​Open​ ​Utility​ ​is​ ​expanding​ ​the​ ​Piclo®​ ​service​ ​in selected​ ​international​ ​markets.​ ​Open​ ​Utility​ ​has​ ​secured​ ​£1.5million​ ​of​ ​funding,​ ​including grants​ ​from​ ​DECC​ ​and​ ​private​ ​investment​ ​from​ ​Ian​ ​Marchant,​ ​former​ ​CEO​ ​of​ ​SSE.​ ​Open​ ​Utility has​ ​been​ ​named​ ​by​ ​Bloomberg​ ​as​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​UK’s​ ​top​ ​50​ ​Business​ ​Innovators​ ​and​ ​won​ ​Startup of​ ​the​ ​Year​ ​at​ ​European​ ​Utility​ ​Week.​ ​​ ​More​ ​information​ ​is​ ​available​ ​at:


1​ ​Upgrading​ ​Our​ ​Energy​ ​System:​ ​Smart​ ​Systems​ ​and​ ​Flexibility​ ​Plan,​ ​BEIS​ ​and​ ​Ofgem,​ ​July 2017, rading-our-energy-system-july-2017.pdf

2​ ​Flexibility​ ​Services:​ ​Invitation​ ​for​ ​Expressions​ ​of​ ​Interest,​ ​UK​ ​Power​ ​Networks,

About Piclo 

Piclo’s mission is to decarbonise the grid. We develop software solutions that make our energy networks smarter, flexible and more sustainable. Our flagship product, Piclo Flex is the leading independent marketplace for energy flexibility services, enabling distribution system operators (e.g. UK Power Networks) to source energy flexibility from flexible service providers (e.g. electric vehicles) during times of high demand or low supply. As of 2021, the flexibility contracts awarded on Piclo Flex totalled £56m with 16 GW of flex capacity registered and 739 MW of flexible capacity procured.

Piclo currently supports the business-as-usual flexibility procurement for major DSOs in the UK - UK Power Networks, SP Energy Networks and Electricity North West, Portugal’s E-REDES and Lithuania’s Energijos Skirstymo Operatorius (ESO).  Aside from its market-leading position in the UK, Piclo has a growing presence in mainland Europe and the USA.

For more information visit/follow:

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Twitter: @PicloEnergy