OrxaGrid using machine learning to optimize Danish grid

The company was one of 10 start-ups chosen in the Urbantech accelerator programme.
Published: Tue 06 Aug 2019

Danish utility EWII has picked British start-up OrxaGrid to help cut technical losses in its network as part of a start-up accelerator programme. The OrxaGrid award-winning machine learning platform gathers data from sensors installed in the distribution grid and can identify energy efficiency opportunities as well as enabling predictive asset maintenance and fault analysis.

The share of distributed generation in the global energy mix is increasing thanks to support for renewables, but it can put stress on substations and increase technical losses. Losses in the UK are around 7%, but can be greater than 20% in emerging economies such as India, where OrxaGrid is also active. It has already implemented a first of its kind cost-effective IoT system with one of the world’s largest electricity distribution system operators in India. This was presented in a paper at CIRED and resulted in the company winning the participants’ choice start-up award.

The OrxaGrid sensors monitor power quality and asset conditions, giving utilities vital visibility into their distribution networks. In the UK, Western Power Distribution has used the OrxaGrid technology as part of its OpenLV project, using algorithms to predict when voltage levels would breach limits set by Ofgem. There is an increased risk of voltage breaching limits when a solar installation is downstream from the substation. In addition to solar installations, other low carbon technologies like electric vehicles (including vehicle to grid charging) and heat pumps impact voltage.

The application will run on the OpenLV platform on a trial site near Bath, which will provide DNOs with a deeper visibility of their low voltage network performance, without them having to manually drill down into low level data from individual sensors. This may facilitate the transition from DNO to DSO, by automating the categorisation of substation risk, and enabling smarter data-driven decisions regarding planned network reinforcement works.

“DNOs have realised there is a weak link in infrastructure at the local substation level,” says Akshat Kulkarni, OrxaGrid's co-founder and CEO.

Increased visibility

OrxaGrid will work with EWII to better understand how things like low carbon technologies, environmental factors, and demand have on the aging and eventual failure of underground cables. Increased visibility into cable health means cost-savings by the reduction of digging up underground cables in vain, making a more resilient grid that is better prepared for the transition to more distributed generation.

The Danish project was initiated by Denmark’s three-year Urbantech programme, which picked ten start-ups to work with Danish companies including EWII, window manufacturing company VKR Holding and engineering consultants COWI to build more sustainable cities. This year’s cycle will start on 19th August and will run for 12 weeks. The application deadline for the 2020 Urbantech programme will be announced this December.

EWII has also chosen to partner with two German companies, Rysta and Powerfox, while VKR Holding is partnering with US start-up Next Energy Technologies, German Moeco and Luxembourg’s Foobot. The programme will be based out of the BLOXHUB coworking space in BLOX on the Copenhagen waterfront.

Urbantech is established by COWI, VKR Holding, EWII and supported by Realdania and The Danish Industry Foundation. The program is run by Rainmaking in collaboration with BLOXHUB, Danish Design Centre, Danish Architecture Center and Amazon Web Services.

OrxaGrid also participated in Portuguese utility EDP’s Starter Acceleration Programme, which is running modules this summer in Europe, Latin America and North America to select start-ups to join EDP later in the year at the tech conference Web Summit in Lisbon.

Akshat Kulkarni, OrxaGrid's co-founder and CEO