Electrify’s eyes and ears.
If there’s one key differentiator between Electrify and another energy startup, it’s the scale of our ambitions. To wit, the development of a P2P energy trading framework that will be deployed over a main grid — Synergy. And the basic enabler of Synergy will be the PowerPod, our IoT communications device.
In development since late-2017, the PowerPod represents a steady and controllable conduit to report and collect data over a large scale from both energy producers and consumers. With a form factor smaller than a paperback novel, we’ve crammed in a device that is capable of capturing data from smart meters through a variety of protocols. Beyond this basic function, it will also be future-ready with input options for a variety of different sensors, from motion to temperature to humidity; essentially, if there’s a sensor out there the PowerPod can be its hub.
But beyond a mere hub, the PowerPod also communicates with the world at large through a host of protocols and standards, including Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT), 3G/4G, 802.11, Ethernet and a variety of RF bandwidths. Essentially, we’re building this device to operate and talk to the Internet in as many deployable scenarios as we can imagine. All the better to collect energy production data. The various connectivity options prevents a single point of failure of one connectivity option from impacting the streaming of real time data from the PowerPod. MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport), a machine-to-machine (M2M)/”Internet of Things” connectivity protocol has been chosen for message transport due to its extremely lightweight publish/subscribe method and Qos (Quality of Service) guarantee.
Imagine if you will, when we have the PowerPod deployed enmasse. We will have the makings of a widespread network of data hubs, ready to be deployed to collect even more data, depending on the exercise. Future IoT and big data applications could be in the form of environmental data such as CO2, temperature and humidity data for instance, to track the spread of disease-bearing mosquitoes. Or granular energy consumption data to help a consumer plan and track what his appliances are consuming and help reduce his consumption and spending. The applications are wide and it all starts with energy.
The Visualisation Dashboard
Data, in and of itself, is worth very little without an information dashboard to present and visualize it. In the last few months, beyond deploying and testing several iterations of the PowerPod, we’ve also been designing and testing the dashboard for the PowerPod. Taking input from some business partners, we’ve designed the dashboard to provide an overview of the data captured, mapped against national wholesale electricity prices and national consumption.
A modular design approach has been utilised in the Data push Architecture in order to ensure that it is future proof. Data is preformatted according to the analytical and visualisation tool(s) that this data will be sent to and the data is pushed real time. A QOS mechanism has also been developed in order to ensure that the data has reached its end point successfully.
This framework underlies the understanding of the difference between amount of energy generated by a DER and the prices offered and demanded by the market. It is with this clarity that we can build and deploy Synergy, our P2P energy trading platform.
Where do we go from here?
The evolution of the PowerPod hardware is a constant tide of testing and improvement. We’re also assessing different hardware platforms and different means of integrating to existing architectures that include smart meters, inverters and the new developments in solid state smart inverters.
The dashboard itself is also in constant evolution; we are utilising Agile as our development framework to support constant improvements and rapid prototyping. Future deployments include more granular presentations of information and deployment according to the needs of other partners. One other feature we’re adding will be the presentation of renewable energy certificates (REC) within the data visualisation framework.
Who wants to use the PowerPod?
Yes, this is the part that most of the members of our Tribe are waiting for; who else is going to use the PowerPod? Who else are we playing with? What are the uses?
At this early stage, we’re still very much in the zone of MVPs and POCs. But we’ve managed to get the attention of some very significant players in the energy space. Until the ink has dried on some of these agreements, we’re embargoed from speaking about them out loud, but we can share a little about the kind of scope we’re designing.
In Australia, we’re in discussions with a large European energy company to carry out a P2P trading test with a small tranche of energy from one of their solar farms. Together with this deal, we hope to design a cross border trading platform for RECs that will allow them to impact their regional clients.
You already know about our MOU with TEPCO, but we’re also in talks with a couple of other energy players there for deployment of some of our solutions. Namely a retailer in the south of Japan with their own solar generation assets wants to deploy a POC with our PowerPods track and carry out settlement; another interested party is a solar aggregator thats looking to find a more efficient solution to tracking and transacting on his power consumption.
In Singapore we’re in talks with the regulators and the central intermediary over access to the smart meters. In discussion is a test project to connect, capture and report on a small number of smart meters across Singapore.
We’re also in discussion with a regional solar developer to deploy PowerPod as part of a mechanism to not just track energy exported from their solar PV installations, but to provide the mechanism to track and transact the RECs their facilities produce.
A few weeks ago, we announced a collaboration with Streamr. Here are a couple of screenshots from that exercise:
The Streamr Canvas displays 2 different streams of real time data graphically. Data is captured from 2 separate PowerPods, where blue represents a consumer’s PowerPod — and the Real time Electricity Consumption — and black represents a producer’s Real time Electricity Production.
We’re really excited at the future possibilities of this collaboration as we start to make more data available.
Public announcements of commercial deals are often embargoed until they’ve been given the greenlight by a board of directors. So rest assured, announcements will be made in the coming weeks once the ink is dry on these agreements.
I look forward to hearing your comments; reach out to my team, and me, at our Telegram channel.