Access to Energy Data

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In 2009, Copenhagen hosted the UN Climate Change Conference and a group of us from NGOs, industry and startups came together to call for open access for consumers to permission the use of their energy data.

This was a radical idea, that your energy data was your own, and that permissioning it to be used by third parties would be good for the environment, innovation and for consumers. The US has seen states take on this principle to varying degrees.

Fast forward to 2018, LO3 Energy’s Exergy project is taking the principle of energy data permissioning and access one step further.

Beyond ‘consumer is king’ to a shared data commons where we all benefit

We – individuals, schools, commercial and industrial campuses, neighbourhoods — are an integral part of an emerging ‘grid-edge’ system where new distributed energy resources (DER) technologies such as electric vehicles, or rooftop solar PV, and advanced control networks are making it possible to generate, store and use electric power in entirely new ways.

The Exergy project is about making it possible to create ‘digital assets’ out of what are currently silos of data, with more being created each year (digital energy is growing at 20% pa).

Governance of the Exergy project

Currently, there is no incentive to ‘share’ energy data. We give it away for free and then pay for electricity (or heat, energy services). Existing market players know this data is valuable, which is why they tend to limit third party access to it. Unfortunately, not sharing the data significantly reduces its aggregate value, and our choices.

And consumers are calling for choice. 70% of us want to digitally manage energy or generate our own. This requires new thinking: How do we create digital assets that are share-able from energy data? How do we assure unambiguous ownership rights? How do we reward end users when they make their data available? What can be done with it once it is available? How do we ensure this contributes to an improvement over today’s energy system?

Staking and rewards
A rewards mechanism will be the first step in providing early incentives for data to be shared onto the platform. That could happen via a mobile app, with information as straightforward as your location and willingness to participate. Over time, the rewards for increasingly granular or ‘real-time’ streaming data would be even more valuable and come with greater rewards.

The XRG token is the distribution and permission mechanism for the digital assets our energy data creates. XRG is needed to permission an app or device to be part of the Exergy network.

The XRG token itself is valuable as the ticket to these marketplaces. It can be used in one’s devices, or traded to other market participants that would like to stake themselves or their customers. The more participants in Exergy clusters, the more the Exergy platform is utilized by market participants themselves to reward for the data required to create these services.

What can be done with new digital energy assets, and why is it better than what I have today?

Last week, nearly a decade after the UN conference, Copenhagen hosted another auspicious moment for energy transitions, the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting (CEM9). Startups, energy leaders and governments agreed: data is the new fuel for energy decentralization and democratization.

XRG turns each participant into a source of value for energy systems, and access new revenue streams as a result. Are you ok with not charging your EV tonight? You can be paid for that. Interested in selling electricity to the grid? Ditto. Your data could also be bundled in a range of services we have only begun to imagine. With grid edge data as a foundation of a common platform, the system benefits too. Higher utilization more renewable energy is possible, at lower cost.

The next decade will see even more change in our energy systems than the last. Our chief goal is that a standard data commons activates our role in that transition.

 

Molly Webb is leading on governance for LO3’s Exergy Project.

This article originally published in LO3's blog: https://lo3energy.com/access-to-energy-data/

 

Disrupting energy through corporate innovation

If Google Maps pinpoints traffic congestion on your morning or evening commute, you would avoid the route to save time and most importantly fuel costs. You could do the same with electricity -- use it at the right time and place to avoid high carbon outcomes or high costs. This opportunity is yet to be fully taken advantage of by corporations, according to our new Energy Leaders report, but will soon be much more commonplace given the availability of innovative, data driven energy products and services in the market today.  

Why does this matter? This is a new, untapped value in energy efficiency, one that hasn’t been possible before the digitisation of energy. (With over 20% per annum in recent years going toward digital energy investments (according to the IEA), we can expect big transformation in energy business models and opportunities for corporate procurement.)

But first, the current status of energy efficiency and its decarbonisation impact

For the first time, we have aggregate data across thousands of energy efficiency projects - the most reported climate action - and it is having an undersized impact across the board. While energy efficiency, the first fuel, is assumed to be our main tool in decarbonisation, the data is telling us a different story:

  1. Though there are exceptions, efficiency is seen as purely an operational cost as opposed to an issue of strategic importance. There are consistently low reported investment rates on internal projects, with a median of $50,000 per year and short payback periods of roughly a year, which unfortunately has less impact overall.  Energy efficiency has only 23% of the carbon impacts in spite of being 60% of of the reported climate actions by companies to CDP.

  2. Energy efficiency may not be helping decarbonise the wider electricity and energy system in markets where we bring on more intermittent renewables or distributed energy resources like electric vehicles. These put additional pressure on today’s grid, driving up ‘peak’ load and contributing to more unpredictable load ‘shape’ which requires energy demand to be able to be flexible -- shifted or stored as in our google maps analogy -- to match the times when the sun is shining. For instance, in California, aggregate data on retrofits shows that buildings are saving energy overall, but their load ‘shape’ remains the same -- inflexible -- peaking at those times when solar isn’t available.    

In short, companies individually aren't getting the value they should out of energy efficiency projects, and in aggregate their actions are not designed for the integration of renewable and distributed energy resources. Their procurement actions are falling short of the ambition to reach an under 2-degree pathway.  

Where do we go from here?

However we do see early signs that companies -- particularly leading brands -- are beginning to change this. They are rolling out dedicated resources to procuring renewable energy and are interested in buying  ‘energy flexibility solutions’ such as storage and demand side response. They are beginning to see the value in working with startups or to create new partnerships to support market transformation of energy systems more broadly.

Our challenge is how to learn from the leaders, and transfer or scale those solutions across sectors and economies. 

It may not be a surprising recommendation, but reporting and setting targets does matter. Energy productivity is a metric that links core business to energy, and is becoming more popular among early adopters and leaders such as Johnson Controls and Mahindra and Mahindra through the EP100 campaign. Companies making this type of commitment show there is value at stake in doubling energy productivity.

They not only find savings, but opportunities to improve their products and services, and ideally find new business models that drive their customers along the same decarbonisation pathway. Covestro, a materials company, can design lighter weight components for vehicles or aircraft. By acquiring or partnering with new entrant companies, energy utilities such as Enel can unveil new demand shifting services that help them save operational costs but also improve customer retention.  (see the Energy Leaders report where we highlight a range of recommendations for companies).

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No company today is untouched by the fact that energy, how is it is produced and consumed, is under major transformation.  To keep up with that, they will need to seek external expertise and watch for new opportunities, such as joining buyers alliances, working with third parties, committing resources to open innovation and adopting and investing in flexibility solutions.

--- Blog post by Catriona Power and Molly Webb

At Energy Unlocked, we aim to speed up adoption of advanced energy solutions by working with companies to understand their energy challenges and connecting them to leading innovators. If you’re interested in learning more about our Request for Discovery platform, please contact catriona@energyunlocked.org

100 companies creating tomorrow's energy systems, today

Energy transitions are underway, but ambitious global climate change targets that require emissions to peak in just three years (by 2020) point to an innovation gap. This week a the SE4All Forum in New York, we launched the EPIC100 report, the result of last year's Energy Productivity Innovation Challenge (EPIC), supported by ClimateWorks Foundation, that sought 100 companies filling that gap with solutions for homes, commercial & industrial buildings, mobility, energy systems and finance.

The promise

We are seeing exponential growth in computing and communications, and energy sectors are beginning to feel the impact of this shift. New capabilities such as blockchain, Internet of Things, new materials and big data are providing new opportunities to more rapidly diagnose and tackle energy system waste and losses that can be more than 60% of the primary energy inputs. Opportunities to drive energy productivity are worth more than $2 trillion.

The business models

Though many of the 100 EPIC companies (40) were early stage pre-revenue businesses, 30 of them have attracted over 770 million in equity financing with hundreds of millions more committed in project finance. The businesses impact on a range of energy assets including HVAC, lighting and motors and grid systems, with thousands of megawatts of energy savings in their portfolios. 10 business model types were identified, including Energy as a Service, Peer-to-Peer Energy and Flexibility Services through electricity storage or demand response.  But how will these still early stage businesses scale?

Partnerships

During our workshop at SE4All heard from innovators in corporates (Harry Verhaar, Head of Global & Government Affairs for Philips Lighting and Vishnu Barran, Senior Business Development Manager, ENER-G Rudox Inc, a company within the Centrica Group) as well as startups at different stages (Scott Williams, Vice President, Business Development, Global Automotive Markets, eMotorWerksScott Kesslar, Director, Business Development for LO3 Energy and Asger Trier Bing, CEO, M-PAYG). For startups, the partnerships with established players with existing hardware or infrastructure help them to focus on where they can provide most value - the part of the new value chains they are creating whether in smart electric vehicle charging, energy trades or renewable payment systems -- and at the same time, to provide a more complete end-to-end service to their customers, including installation or financing. Harry Verhaar who has led a new growth area within Philips has partnered with established players in other sectors such as IT and telecommunications, and with city governments, to launch new lighting-as-a-service offers. As Scott Williams noted, 'partnerships are key' as new ambitious companies take on the challenges of rapid growth. 

Pathways to scale

Whilst the potential is there to move to an on-demand, real time energy system that rapidly decarbonises energy, the pace at which this happens is still uncertain. Governments and corporate leaders will be key drivers of demand for energy transitions, and we describe an innovation 'racetrack' to accelerate innovation ecosystems, with specific recommendations for each broad action on the racetrack. Governments and corporates can use data more effectively to support innovators, create the conditions for increasing new sources of 'demand' for innovation, enable market (not just technology) demonstrations and trials, and develop new governance strategies including digital energy services oversight.

Where we go from here

100 companies are just the beginning... Join Us.

Corporates leaders, early adopters with challenges they are looking to solve, tell us more and we can provide access to market intelligence and companies in our partner network. 

 

Tangled Up in Blockchain

Blockchain, communities and their global implications for a new energy paradigm

(First posted on Meeting of the Minds blog)

The promise: Off grid communities producing and sharing resilient, cost-effective solar energy without an electricity supplier, and generating SolarCoins as added income…. Communities in major cities choosing the price or type of electricity generation moment by moment, as they share electricity between ‘prosumers’, reducing grid congestion and achieving low carbon targets at the same time….

These are just two potential ways blockchain can transform energy as we know it. Blockchain is not just for finance anymore -- it’s most famous as the underpinning technology of cryptocurrency Bitcoin -- but can be used for applications as different as transparent land titling or voting. But are ‘energy blockchains’ able to deliver the promise of renewable, decentralised energy? For now, we may be at the peak of the ‘hype’ cycle. More companies are working on blockchain than deploying it today.

Certainly there are already real projects delivering real value to customers amongst the hype. Companies like LO3 Energy and Power Ledger are engaged in Peer to Peer energy trials, but these are very early stage. Solar PV forecasts within 5% accuracy are being tested in Cyprus by SolarChange. CEO Assaf Ben Or is confident that “smart predictions, insights and forecasts can be taken to a new level, driving efficiencies, saving millions and impacting the global renewable energy marketplace."

This year and next will see an upsurge in the number of demonstrations. We will learn what works and what doesn’t, how consumers react and participate in new business propositions. The underpinning technology will be evolving alongside.  As Lawrence Orsini from LO3 Energy said, “We have built our own energy blockchain and Transactive Grid platform to test how consumers adopt this technology and more importantly the markets and services it enables in Brooklyn. We are going to be bringing the technology to a number of demonstrations internationally the next few years to make sure we're not just creating value for people in Brooklyn, but for communities all over the globe."

 Mark Kenber, Energy Unlocked advisory board member (3rd from the right), speaking at the Event Horizon Energy Blockchain conference

Mark Kenber, Energy Unlocked advisory board member (3rd from the right), speaking at the Event Horizon Energy Blockchain conference

Part of adoption of any new paradigm is discussion. Today, innovators, utilities, regulators and experts will descend on Vienna, Austria for the Event Horizon Global Summit on Blockchain Technology and the Energy Sector to share the latest case studies and insights about putting blockchain to work for energy outcomes.

In this spirit, energy blockchain application developers Grid Singularity and NGO Rocky Mountain Institute, along with major global utilities, will today announce the Energy Web Foundation. Not only will the focus be case studies, but the plan is to promote a standard platform (think Linux, the open-source underpinning operating system of the Android mobile platform). “We’re solving some key issues with open ledgers applied to energy, such as the speed and security of transactions,” said Grid Singularity CEO Ewald Hesse.

While standards are crucial to creating big waves from new technological ripples, utilities that are participating in the new initiative may not be able to thwart history. A disruptive new paradigm does not frequently come from the dominant industries of today. Cast our minds back to 1980, when mobile phone telephony company AT&T (and McKinsey) famously predicted mobile phone uptake would be about 1 million in the year 2000, when in fact it exceeded 100 million.

AT&T eventually got back into the mobile industry, but I wonder would the world be different if they hadn’t left at that early stage? Would we have seen the competitive industry explode to 5 billion + mobile subscribers today with leading companies Apple and Google vying for smart-phone platform domination, and the host of copycat innovations that follow? Google didn’t exist until 1998, 20 years after the first phone mobile phone was trialled. Dominant players of today’s energy system may not be the leaders of tomorrow’s. As UK-based Mongoose Energy’s Mark Kenber, advisory board member to Energy Unlocked, said, “We expect to see many new forms of community energy companies changing how energy is owned and controlled. We’re just at the beginning.”

Energy and mobile access together provide access to markets and education, opportunities and livelihoods. Blockchain is a technology fit for enabling the distributed transactions that a mobile-enabled world craves. Most of us may never know blockchain is at the heart of it all, but will instead enjoy the benefits it brings. May the experiments continue.

 

Molly Webb is Founder of Energy Unlocked, working with new market entrants to accelerate the pace of energy system transitions to meet ambitious climate change targets. The recent EPIC project identified 100 energy productivity innovators, including blockchain based solutions. Get in touch to get involved.