By Graham Oakes, Finalist, UpsideOur focus for March was the TSB localised energy funding call. I think we’ve put together a good bid and a strong consortium – the Upside founders, a startup energy supplier / trader, two global manufacturing firms (one German, one Japanese) and the University of Manchester.
We’re going to be exploring the implications of connecting a suite of different devices into the Upside cloud service, and hence aggregating their different energy storage capabilities and usage profiles into a single, coherent “virtual energy store” for demand side response. Our device pools will include:
- UPS – the original Upside target. Our German partner manufactures a specialist line of small UPS that we’ll be piloting. And we’re talking to another small manufacturer in the UK about developing add-on devices for existing UPS. That’s not the ideal long-term solution, but it may help prove the market
- Domestic batteries. Our Japanese partner manufactures a line of 8KWh battery systems for domestic PV arrays. They currently sell them in Germany (where the energy market is favourable for domestic storage), and are looking for ways to make them viable in the UK. We think Upside can help them improve the ROI for consumers, thus making them viable
- Electric Vehicles. We’re talking to several people about incorporating EVs and EV charging infrastructure into our TSB trial. Again, anything that helps offset the cost of batteries helps make EVs more attractive. And charging EVs creates a lot of challenges for the grid, so coordinating their charging demand is crucial.
We’re also starting to talk about using the Upside service to coordinate domestic heat pumps (especially if they’re attached to thermal energy stores). We’ve had some good discussions within another Japanese manufacturer there. The timing wasn’t right for the TSB project, but we’ve agreed to look at other possibilities, perhaps via the EU’s Horizon2020 programme.
All this activity is getting reflected back into our business plan. Our target is now to build an 80MWh energy store by 2020/21, based on capacity in UPS and domestic batteries in the UK. We still need to model the other devices, but they probably don’t have a significant impact until sometime later.
Likewise, we haven't started to plan international expansion, but the nature of the manufacturers we’re dealing with demonstrates that we’re definitely in an international market. Of course, the nature of the energy markets, and hence the algorithms we need, varies widely between countries, so expansion isn’t going to be trivial. But we have some thoughts on how to address it. Let’s take over the world!