Why Shell’s newest flexible energy acquisition matters

Limejump pioneers a new business model using technology and algorithms to forecast supply and demand providing market access to a range of energy markets and balancing services.
Published: Mon 29 Apr 2019

Within the UK, the energy sector has proven to be lagging behind a number of other industries in terms of adopting and benefitting from digitalisation. But the UK power market is at a tipping point, according to Limejump, one of the “new wave” of emerging technology businesses.

Recently acquired by Shell New Energies, Limejump is “super charged” to take on the energy transition and facilitate a market shift that will see renewables and clean energy tech exist without subsidies and scale up rapidly as the backbone of the energy system. It’s a transition which is already well underway with a new record set last week for longest ever period of coal-free generation record in the UK – 90+ hours – smashing last April’s record of 76 hours.

Technology is the enabler of this change with faster, better decision making needed to coordinate increasingly complex system balancing needs and connect increasingly decentralised assets and stakeholders. It’s companies like Limejump that are bringing this technology to market.

However, if technology is the enabler – it is people, says Limejump, that are the catalysts.  The company is continuing to expand its technological and analytical teams.

“The whole team at Limejump is building a culture based on our values. Together we drive innovation in the energy sector and challenge the traditional legacy of this industry towards a more sustainable future,” says CEO Erik Nygard.

Virtually vs vertically integrated

As the market evolves, traditional large energy companies, whose vertically integrated structure gave them a previous advantage over new entrants, will have to adapt to the decentralisation of production towards more distributed generation, nimble smaller players and more sophisticated consumers.

Limejump aggregates supply from small distributed energy resources and use algorithmic based forecasting to secure the best price in the wholesale and ancillary markets. Its Virtual Power Platform connects assets including batteries, wind, solar, hydro or any other sustainable resource to markets to deliver investment revenue and confidence in renewables while proving that sustainable resources can power the UK.

A lack of clarity over the UK’s future participation in the European emissions trading scheme, combined with barriers to market trading provide challenges to generators and companies alike while market volatility created by an increase in intermittent resources, fluctuating power prices and uncertainty created by coal plant closures can create barriers to determining revenue.

“Our team’s mission is to revolutionise the utility industry to bring sustainable energy to the forefront, while proving that renewables can deliver a return on investment and power the UK,” says Nygard.

Amongst a number of firsts, Limejump has pioneered new ways of operating the energy system, for example via its interaction with National Grid’s Balancing Mechanism (BM).

Having secured a special derogation from Ofgem in 2018 to utilise aggregated balancing units within the mandated BM, Limejump now aggregates generation from a gamut of low carbon generation points including anaerobic digestion, landfill gas, hydro, and battery storage amongst others to participate in this and other ancillary markets. Opening these markets to new participants broadens the UK energy sector to a multitude of sustainable energy resources and reduces reliance on centralised assets owned by a handful of incumbent players.

With companies like Limejump blazing a trail, the UK energy market is poised for accelerated transformation, and new market participants are trying new methods of optimising assets to take advantage of market volatility.

Small is beautiful

The significance is not in the size but the nature of the new resources. “Some of the most critical functions of the power market are turning to digital solutions in a way that was never possible before and this opening provides options for new participants to lead the way in the energy transition,” says Nygard. “National Grid is showing it has faith in these new asset types and has created a dedicated desk specifically for the utilisation of distributed resources.”

Limejump also plans to continue participation in the UK Capacity Market, which is on hold pending a challenge with the European Court of Justice. But it remains optimistic the issue will be resolved and could result in a broader range of sustainable power supplies, including from batteries, to benefit from payments for being on reserve to balance frequency fluctuations and compensate for the growing dependence on intermittent sources of generation.

With participants such as Limejump leading by proving tech and AI can reshape the connections of the energy industry, the energy revolution is closer than ever – and the people behind these companies are compelled to achieve their mission.