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Insights into European Innovation: Energy and Technology Converge

May 28, 2019
Island systems create unique challenges.

The global energy markets are dramatically changing. The transition toward decarbonisation, digitalisation and decentralisation has accelerated the development of energy technology.

The UK and Ireland have the most advanced and fastest growing grid balancing markets in Europe. By harnessing the power of machine learning and partnering with utilities, intelligent energy services providers deliver enhanced benefits across the system. Innovative solutions increase grid flexibility, improve resilience and support the integration of renewables.

Britain’s National Grid already spends more than $1.3bn per year on balancing services, with forecasts for investment reaching $2.6bn within five years, while Ireland is a global leader in incorporating renewables with an average penetration of 65%, and a 75% target for 2020. It is no surprise the European energy-tech companies invest heavily in R&D.

The sophistication of the markets can be attributed to the fact that both systems exist on island grids. Island systems create unique challenges. Those have been met through the diversification of generation, new sources of behind-the-meter flexibility, and partnerships with utilities and suppliers. All of which is managed by the most advanced and innovative technologies. Technologies that are now available across the globe.

Last year, GridBeyond, a leader in the European demand response and energy services, developed and launched the world’s first hybrid battery & demand network.

The machine learning platform supports a portfolio of behind-the-meter batteries and demand assets to work in harmony to provide flexibility to the grid. The combination of battery and load unlocks flexibility that would otherwise be inaccessible. For example, in older equipment or machinery in a production line. Responses to grid signals can take place in under a second, enabling all C&I clients and assets to participate in the most financially rewarding demand response programmes. Something they could not achieve on their own.

Ardagh Group, a global manufacturer of infinitely recyclable glass and metal packaging, connected to the hybrid battery & demand network back in 2017. Consequently, Ardagh unlocked an additional 65% in energy flexibility from the assets on their glass sites. This maximised Ardagh’s ability to provide fast-acting balancing services, and ultimately reduced grid CO2 emission by an estimated 400 tonnes annually. Ardagh Group were recognised as sustainability pioneers for this project at the International Beverage Awards in Japan.

The added innovation of the hybrid network lies in its ability to enable end users without batteries, and low flexibility assets, to participate in the same advanced Demand Response programmes as sites with batteries. The machine learning and big data powered platform controls and combines batteries, generation and load assets across all sites, and manages their rotation and deployment within the portfolio to meet the system security needs.

The hybrid innovation brought its developer multiple awards and recognition as the 2019 Technology Innovator for Excellence in European Demand Response from Frost and Sullivan. According to GridBeyond’s CEO, Michael Phelan, the technology can be easily introduced into other markets.

Growing competition in the supply market compels utilities to scope for opportunities to increase their offering.  Differentiation can be achieved in two ways: in-house innovation or through collaboration with the energy tech innovators already in the market.

At the beginning of 2019, Haven Power, the leading supplier of renewable electricity in the UK, chose GridBeyond’s technology to enhance its offering. Through the partnership, Haven Power’s commercial clients can increase their sustainability, whilst boosting profitability and improving operational integrity. All by participating in Demand Response programs, energy trading and advanced energy optimisation solutions.

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