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Hanging off a 100-foot windmill, or what you missed by not attending Europe’s biggest energy conference

I’m back in London reflecting on E-world, the European energy industry conference, which was held in Essen, Germany last week and every year around this time.

By Ian Murrin

02/03/2020

The conference zeitgeist was all things renewable energy – including creation, distribution, consumption, management and optimisation via pretty much every type of IoT device you could imagine, for both domestic and industrial use. These devices are connected to smart networks and managed by “digital” control systems, i.e. web applications and phone apps. Supporting these are applications that help service engineers manage physical assets, such as wind farms or solar. The applications provide aggregated support and technical data for a wide range of manufacturers’ kit which means the engineers can schedule and service assets using one handheld device with all the necessary documentation and reporting frameworks – while hanging off a 100-foot high windmill!

Uniper has built a platform called Enerlytics that commercialises some of these technologies – specifically some of the IoT, modelling and analytics capability they use to manage their own power generation assets – to help other global operators with their predictive maintenance and plant optimisation.

This is in addition to the Market Data Analytics Platform (MDAP) which we implemented for Uniper last year, which supports the growth of their internal “Data Economy” by facilitating easier and more rapid ingestion of multiple data sources ( 270K time-series, 200+ data sources) and promotes greater sharing of quant models and hence collaboration across the 200 + quant users within their business. This, in turn, helps Uniper to better support its clients, particularly in the renewables market.

Uniper have also identified a market for portable battery charging capability, on a big scale, and built what looks like phone boxes on steroids, rammed full of Lithium-ion batteries – think Agrekko portable generators, without the noisy engines. The box gets charged at a local sub-station, using mid-level voltages, and is then physically transported to the required location to re-charge cars, power lights, or homes, as required. It takes a good few hours to fully recharge the box and when complete it can recharge 5+ cars or more likely 10+ cars at 30% that need a 20-minute fast charge.

When these units are connected to the grid and have fully charged, they act as providers of second-by-second instant demand response power units which help to smooth out voltage peaks and troughs. The device is “smart” and talks to a centralised management hub which will enable Uniper to understand consumption, location and charging patterns and use cases, which include:  

*  Towns that want to go green faster, without digging up streets to lay high capacity cables

*  Remote areas that are without power permanently or temporarily, a key enabler of energy inclusion

*  Concerts and festivals for which better energy efficiency is becoming a major issue

*  Coping with peak demand in a city for car charging points

It’s gratifying to see these incredible advancements by Uniper – and many other clients such as RWE and Gazprom – as they are partly built on the trading and operational technologies we have helped them to develop over the past two decades. These companies are all having to respond to market pressures more rapidly than ever before – across a wider range of instruments, with ever-shorter windows of commercial opportunity and more complex contractual agreements and constant downward price pressures. Having the right data and technology insights in place has never been more critical if businesses are to respond to and succeed in, this type of operational environment. Moving with agility is key. So whether our clients need a market-data analytics platform, a unified modelling environment or an Algo trading control framework, it is great to be able to help them transform their trading and market operations to better meet the evolving market needs.

E-world was a fascinating microcosm of the energy generation-to-consumption universe, all under one roof – or more factually, many, massive exhibition hall rooftops. It was great to see so many clients and friends (Gazprom’s “Traditional” Russian-themed party was particularly lively).

For those of you who couldn’t be there, I hope this short article is a useful primer on the amazing developments at the intersection of energy generation and trading, sustainability and technology. Look forward to chatting with you next time or in the comments below.