Open Energi at #FWIC16

David Hill - Open EnergiDavid Hill, Business Development Director at Open Energi is one of three keynote speakers during the Connected Energy track session at the Future of Wireless International Conference (FWIC) on 22nd June 2016. David’s talk is entitled ‘How Sharing Economy principles are paving the way to a 100% renewable future’ – to register for tickets, please head to our website here.

Here, we find out a bit more about Open Energi but if you’ve got any more questions – please tweet us using the hashtag #FWIC16

1) In a sentence, can you explain what Open Energi is?

Open Energi is a clean technology company harnessing flexibility in our demand for energy to help build a new energy economy which is cleaner, cheaper, more secure and more efficient.

2) You have some exciting case studies listed on your website, are you able to divulge some recent customer work?

Businesses are really waking up to the benefits of managing their demand more flexibly and this has been reflected in the number of customers we are working with, which has doubled to over 40 in the last 12 months.

It’s too early to talk about many of our more recent customers but we’re growing our presence in the water and education sectors, and expanding into some new sectors including airports, waste and biogas.

One of the most exciting projects we have been working on is with Sainsbury’s, who were our very first customer back in 2011. Having equipped HVAC in over 200 stores with our Dynamic Demand technology, we’re now working together to trial it in their refrigeration assets. It’s taken an enormous amount of collective effort to get this far but the prize is a world first; supermarket fridges acting as a distributed storage network and helping to balance electricity supply and demand UK-wide in real-time.

Sainsburys colne pic - Open Energi

We’re also doing a lot of work with developers of battery storage systems, which is another source of flexibility Dynamic Demand can aggregate for National Grid.

3) Does Open Energi serve domestic purpose or commercial? Or both?

Right now our focus is on commercial opportunities, working with businesses across the UK, but in time as the cost of our technology stack comes down, it’s likely there will be applications in the home. We’ve started to work with some interesting technology companies to try and create value for consumers on a domestic scale via our National Grid contract.

4) The future is looking more and more connected and with clean solutions like Open Energi, are you finding businesses more welcoming to these new ideas?

Absolutely, it feels like the Demand Response industry is about to be propelled into the mainstream, much like renewable generation was over a decade ago. Globally, intelligent Demand Response is gathering pace as a credible alternative to traditional peaking plants and battery storage solutions, as the most efficient way to manage our transition towards 100% renewable energy.

5) How big is the team at Open Energi? Do you have a range of staff, from engineers, product designers etc? What’s the work culture like?

We have over 50 people at Open Energi now – based all over the country – and they encompass a really wide skillset, from software developers and data analysts through to commissioning engineers who are out on site all day long. What I think everyone shares is a really passionate belief in what Open Energi does, and that makes for a great culture. It’s very entrepreneurial and people feel very empowered.

6) What does your role entail?

As Business Development Director I’m responsible for shaping the business strategy and vision, and managing commercial partnerships and opportunities to deliver scalable and sustainable growth. On a day to day basis this involves speaking to a broad range of partners, including technology companies, energy companies and end customers, to continually iterate our technology and commercial strategy. I’m also our company spokesperson so I spend a lot of time speaking at events and to the media.

7) With regards to the technology, does the product development and manufacturing take place on site?

From Open Energi’s London office we develop and test the software used to control loads and to collect/process data. When we install the equipment at our customers’ sites we use standard off-the-shelf components on which we can then run our software and patented algorithms.

8) Do you work with external partners to develop the tech?

We work with numerous partners to develop the technology.  For example, Tridium, who supply our controllers which run many of the algorithms.  We then work with various industrial controls companies to develop reliable integration between our controllers and the various devices we find on customer sites. More recently we have started working with Hortonworks, who are helping us to develop the big-data infrastructure needed to store and process the large amounts of second-by-second data that we collect.

9) What is Dynamic Demand?

Dynamic Demand is the name of our proprietary technology platform. It’s unlocks small amounts of flexible energy demand from everyday equipment and aggregates it to create a distributed storage network, intelligently increasing or decreasing consumption in real-time to help National Grid manage electricity supply and demand UK-wide.

It works by monitoring grid frequency, which National Grid must maintain between 49.5 and 50.5 Hertz – 50 Hertz being an indicator supply and demand are perfectly balanced. If Dynamic Demand detects that the system is imbalanced it will send a request to equipment it is connected to asking if it can temporarily reduce or increase power consumption to help return the frequency to 50 Hertz.

At any given moment, some equipment will be able to respond and some won’t, but by aggregating the response from thousands of different devices up and down the country, Dynamic Demand is able to invisibly adjust demand to meet supply in real-time, 24/7, 365 days a year.

This demand-side flexibility is paving the way for a completely different electricity market. A market that doesn’t require polluting peaking power, a market that can integrate renewable energy efficiently and most importantly, a market that gives consumers the power and control of how, when, and from where they consume their energy.

If you’d like to find out more about FWIC and Connected Energy – come along to the conference during London Tech Week.