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Category: News 2018

6 posts

Not long ago, our COO, Peter Müller-Brühl, visited the Recharge’s thought leaders Summit in Hamburg. Here’s what he had to say afterwards. OPINION piece by Peter Müller-Brühl

In a similar way to Airbnb’s business model, electricity providers will pool distributed generation and storage assets to provide services, rather than kWh.

When I set out my vision of the post-industrial “platform” energy system at Recharge’s Thought Leaders’ Summit in Hamburg earlier this month, I could clearly see some raised eyebrows. To put it simply, my assumption is that electricity in the future will be free. Yes, you read it correctly: electricity will be free. But since nothing in life is free, you will still be paying for something. And that something will be a service.

You might think that this is a “distinction without a difference”. But, if you are a utility, understanding this new business model will make all the difference between future prosperity and being outflanked by “energy space invaders”. Take this example: the biggest hotel group in the world, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, founded in 1919, has more than 5,400 properties and a market capitalization of $22.4bn. On the other hand, Airbnb, one of the biggest hospitality platforms in the world, was founded in 2008, has zero properties and an estimated value of $38bn.

Similarities between energy and hospitality, as well as other platform business models, might be closer than you think. Just as many households might have room to spare some or all of the time, more and more households will have some kind of energy generating or storage device. In fact, research shows that the number of “behind-the-meter” assets is projected to rise from 73 million worldwide in 2016, to more than 120 million by 2020. These are assets such as solar panels, heat pumps, batteries, electric vehicles (EVs) and storage heaters.

To understand how new platform business models will be different from traditional ones, let’s take a look at what an energy utility business looks like today: it is first and foremost about owning large energy assets and supplying “end points” with a commodity; it is about your most profitable customers being those that don’t switch. And it is about 40-year innovation cycles in power generation and grid transmission. I would call it the “€ per kWh” model.

On the other hand, the future energy world is about managing access to a large number of behind-the-meter assets. So instead of running large power plants, it is about providing a service (heat, power, EV transport). Instead of providing kilowatts it is about having regular, engaged customers. Finally, it is about rapid product and service innovation, instead of selling the same product for decades. I would call this the “€ per service” model.

The key question is how to get from one model to the other? Just as broadband, wi-fi, smartphones, and IT technology has unlocked the power of platform businesses, so we at GreenCom Networks believe that connectivity of behind-the-meter assets (combined with metered consumption and other data sources) will be key to setting up new business models for the energy world.

One of our projects, for instance, involves setting up and running an energy community, which acts not just as a virtual, but as a real power plant, with real electricity to use and sell. The only difference is that instead of being a large, centralized and conventional power station, our plant is comprised of hundreds of solar panels and storage batteries across a number of households in various locations.

This “cellular” power plant of the future, supplemented by a distributed storage facility, could enter into a number of economic scenarios, including bidding for supply, backup capacity and domestic service offers. Participants in this energy community both add value to the community, with their own generation and consumption profiles and also receive value, in terms of savings on their bills. And the community as a whole has a role to play in driving down CO2 emissions.

But, connecting behind-the-meter hardware, though crucial, is not sufficient for a successful energy platform business. Our experience tells us that just as any successful platform business analyses user data, so the energy retailers of the future will have to analyze user behavior to offer customers the best possible service, leading to a network effect. And the analysis will go way beyond binary energy “on/off’” data, including customer lifestyle preferences, time-of-day patterns, and other information that is indicative of how and when customers use electricity and energy based services.

For instance, does the electricity use in the household spike during weekends, when there is football on TV and a Sunday roast is in the oven? Or are weekends usually “low consumption” because the customer leads an outdoorsy lifestyle? All of this will be crucial in formulating the right tariff and winning and retaining customers.

Which brings me to the final point, something that engineers running the world’s energy utilities would be well advised to note: you can have the best hardware and the best data, and yet it takes that extra bit of magic to come up with the right service.

After all, even Airbnb started out offering short-term living quarters with breakfast included, business networking opportunities — and boxes of cereal! In other words, instead of the usual slow and cumbersome R&D strategies, the platform business model encourages rapid innovation and learning by doing.

At GreenCom, we sometimes call this model “spaghetti and walls”. You will have to throw a lot of cooked spaghetti at many walls to see what sticks. You will have to connect many devices, look at internal and external data, and then try a number of services and tariffs to see which best suit your customers.

You can either embrace this time as the most exciting time since Tesla invented AC transmission (and by extension modern electricity networks), or you can stick your head in the sand. The choice is yours — but the prize is open to all.

Munich, 9 August 2018. The international energy experts Maikel van Verseveld and Gerard Reid are strengthening the Supervisory Board of GreenCom Networks AG in Munich. With this prominent support, the company, which was founded in 2011, is setting the course for further strong growth in Europe. The Dutchman Maikel van Verseveld is a senior partner at Accenture Energy and one of the best known and best-networked consultants in the international energy world. The Briton Gerard Reid is a recognized financing expert in the field of digital energy transactions. “GreenCom will benefit from this expertise, the experience and the network of the two new supervisory boards as it continues to expand,” says Dr. Christian Feißt, CEO of GreenCom Networks AG: “It is extremely important for our further development to have gained such recognized experts for this role.”

“In my consulting activities, I come into contact with many young companies throughout Europe who want to shape tomorrow’s energy world with good ideas,” Maikel van Verseveld explains his motivation: “The concept and the approach of GreenCom Networks have greatly impressed me from the very beginning. I am therefore convinced that the company can make a decisive contribution to the digital energy transition and I would like to support this path as a Supervisory Board member.” Gerard Reid is active in the asset-financing sector of the energy world and will support GreenCom’s expansion in this area: “As the new energy world will essentially emerge beyond the large corporations that dominated the market in the past, it is important to develop sustainable financing models for digital energy businesses. A concept like that of GreenCom must therefore also be flexible and powerful in this respect.”

GreenCom Networks AG provides the energy industry with innovative digital solutions at the interface to the Internet of Things. With its Energy Information Brokerage Platform (EIBP), the company has developed a white label solution for the management of decentralized energy systems. This allows for the networking and optimized use of millions of decentralized systems such as photovoltaics, battery storage, heat pumps, air conditioning systems and electric cars. This results in brand new business models for energy services through to carefree services such as flat rates for electricity or air conditioning in combination with decentralized systems or energy community approaches. Dr. Feißt: “In the digital age, data, its analysis and processing are the raw materials of the new energy world.”

From the 4th to the 5th of June GreenCom was exhibiting at the Eurelectric in Ljubljana, Slovenia. As one of the largest energy industry conferences in Europe, the Eurelectric annual conference offered more than 50 C-level speakers, over 500 participants and more than 20 sponsors and exhibitors. As one of them GreenCom could attract multiple high-level visitors and show its new products live – most of all GreenCom’s community with a multitude of real connected end customers was impressive. Visitors could not only see the communities visualization but also try out features like energy usage statistics, forecasts, local optimization or data exports.

On the second day, GreenCom’s CEO, Christian Feißt, and a colleague from GreenCom’s partner EDP have presented the companies’ joint effort to provide new innovative digital energy services. Later GreenCom and EDP participated in the panel discussion on the future of distributors.

Lisbon, Munich, April 20th, 2018. EDP is preparing its retail business for the digital future. While the energy industry is becoming increasingly decentralized – with solar PV, battery storage and the uptake of electric vehicles – future utility companies will have to turn themselves into digital service providers. Just like in other industries where digitization disrupted existing business models, the main asset of a utility will be the end customer who owns the solar PV or the electric vehicle.

To meet this challenge, EDP is turning itself into a data-driven service provider that continuously offers new and innovative services focused on the end customer. As an enabling foundation for these services, EDP is leveraging GreenCom Networks’ Energy Information Brokerage Platform. “Digital technology helps us to be faster and more innovative in our services which we offer to our customers. GreenCom Networks is providing us with a leading-edge technology platform that realizes the Energy Internet of Things and enables us to create new products and services for our customers rapidly” says Marta Diaz from EDP Spain.

“EDP is one of the global leaders in the utility industry. We are proud to be a partner to support EdP in utilizing the opportunities of the digital energy future”, comments Christian Feisst, CEO of GreenCom Networks. Romain Trigance, GreenComs’ technical lead for the EDP project, adds: “We have worked with many energy companies. But partnering with EDP is exciting given the size of its customer base and the aspiration of becoming a true innovation leader. With EDP, we can prove the strengths of our technology”.

The partnership between EDP and GreenCom Networks is one of the outcomes of the Free Electrons initiative that EDP established together with seven other international utilities. Out of more than 450 applicants, twelve innovative start-up companies were selected to work on future business models in the energy industry. GreenCom Networks was one of the companies that participated in the Free Electrons program. “This collaboration with GreenCom Networks demonstrates the benefits of our commitment towards innovation and collaboration with start-ups that we are driving forward with initiatives like Free Electrons,” says Luis Manuel, GM of EDP Innovation and one of the founders of the Free Electrons program.

About EDP
EDP is an energy producer, distributor and retailer with 12 million customers in Portugal, Spain and Brazil. EDP has over 25GW of power production capacity of which 5GW are hydro and 10GW are wind, making it the 4th largest wind power producer in the world and 3rd in the US. Its renewable power business is present in 14 countries including the US and Brazil.

Munich, Sophia Antipolis, April 16th, 2018. GreenCom Networks received funding with the Macdoch Group as lead investor and with a participation of its current shareholders Munich Venture Partners and SET Ventures. The money will be used to further strengthen GreenCom’s leading position as an Energy Internet of Things (IoT) provider in the European energy market and beyond.

GreenCom is providing its Energy Information Brokerage Platform to utilities and energy service companies, including OEMs of energy-relevant devices. As a company, GreenCom combines unique strengths from a deep understanding of the future energy markets and its telco technology background with the experience of managing millions of devices connected to an Energy IoT.

By utilizing GreenCom’s platform, customers may offer new digital energy services to their residential customer base. As the energy industry is facing a significant shift from oil and gas towards electricity and from central power generation towards distributed generation, battery storage, and electric vehicles, intelligent software is essential to enable a smart and sustainable future energy supply. With its end-to-end Energy IoT offering, GreenCom integrates distributed assets like solar inverters, heat pumps, battery storage or electric vehicles from a large variety of vendors to enable such new digital energy services.

GreenCom’s Energy Information Brokerage Platform is using artificial intelligence to predict the behavior of connected assets and to optimize their usage. Depending on the services GreenCom’s customers are offering, the platform supports local or central optimization, e.g., within GreenCom’s virtual power plant application. Just recently, GreenCom announced its offering of an energy community engine that allows customers to connect with each other virtually.

“Macdoch is not just a financial investor for us. The Macdoch Group has excellent relationships in the Australian market. And that’s a very interesting one that we are actively looking at,” commented Christian Feisst, CEO of GreenCom.

“GreenCom has a unique offering that paves the way for the future energy transition. We invested because we recognize the company’s unique capabilities and we see significant synergies with our other business activities,” said John Thorpe, Director Macdoch UK.

About The Macdoch Group

Macdoch is a family-controlled investment group with executives based in Sydney and London. Its interests span quoted equities, venture capital, agriculture and property mainly in the UK and Australia. Macdoch invests in a number of areas with a particular focus on the energy and healthcare sectors.