The energy provider challenging the status quo
Our industry may be considered slow-moving, but we are certainly stepping up the pace.
“If we are to succeed in saving our planet, we have no choice but to move to a renewable future – and to do that you have to start somewhere.”
With Entelios, we are changing our relationship with the energy market – both in Norway and other countries. As Norway’s leading supplier of renewable energy to the commercial market, and with a good foothold in Sweden too, Agder Energi already had a strong presence in the Nordics. But to achieve their vision of becoming a driving force for sustainability and renewable energy, they needed to think bigger. So Agder Energi bought three German innovation drivers in the energy market, taking it a long way towards achieving its goal of becoming the go-to energy supplier for customers who want their electricity consumption to be more sustainable.
Against the backdrop of a more predictable political outlook and ambitious climate goals, Entelios is helping to solve some of the current challenges in the energy market. But what does that mean in practice?
Disrupting the business
“We must disrupt ourselves and adapt to the changes that are taking place around us. Our industry may be considered slow-moving, but we are stepping up the pace, taking a more interdisciplinary approach, drawing on different types of expertise, increasing our diversity and becoming experts in modern technology. This is why we believe this is vital if we want to succeed”, says Steffen Syvertsen, Executive Vice President at Agder Energi’s Business Area for Energy Management & Trading.
And how, specifically, do you intend to do that?
“We have developed a demand response technology that allows our customers to help stabilizing the grid by adjusting their consumption/generation according to the status of the grid. Take Germany, for example, which has much less access to flexible renewable energy sources than Norway. There, industry has largely been dependent on coal during periods with little wind or sun. With our demand response technology, industrial companies can offer the German market a reduction in their consumption of energy dominated by conventional generation as well as an increase of the energy purchase. Special market mechanisms mean that they are adequately compensated for doing this”, explains Syvertsen.
But isn’t one of the paradoxes of the German energy system that despite being one of the markets with the highest penetrations of renewable energy, they still use almost as much coal as they did in the past?
“Yes, it’s true that CO2 emissions haven’t fallen that much in Germany overall, but we can help to find answers to the question of what to do when the wind is missing, and the sun isn’t shining. Besides which, Agder Energi, and Norway as a country, can offer hydropower – the very best renewable energy resource. It can be stored and then used to generate electricity just when it is needed. Once we build even more interconnectors, Norwegian hydropower will be able to step in when Germany is short of wind and solar power, which represents a large proportion of its energy system. That will save it having to fall back on coal. We’re confident that this can help to smooth the transition to a renewable energy system”, says Syvertsen.
In other words, Entelios’ demand response technology makes it possible to optimise electricity consumption, thereby reducing the need for non-renewable energy. Entelios has developed the technology themselves.
“We have developed a real-time system, which combines software with a control unit that we install at our large industrial customers. These units make it possible to automatically dispatch energy intensive processes up to an entire production within a very short period (seconds – max. 15 minutes).”
Managing the energy consumption of Germany’s largest aluminium producer
Germany has four transmission system operators responsible for managing different geographical parts of the transmission grid. They have programs that compensate energy intensive companies for providing ancillary services for grid stabilization. Entelios integrates this into its demand response platform. “To prequalify a factory or production line you need an excellent understanding of both the energy market and the industry in which the customer operates”, says Syvertsen.
“TRIMET Aluminium SE uses our solution at two of its production sites, and we can adjust their consumption within seconds for providing secondary and primary control reserve. You need a high level of trust, advanced technology and market access to be allowed to do that as well as being really innovative.”, says Syvertsen.
Next to these industrial loads, commercialized in the Interruptible Loads Programme, increasingly batteries are used as a storage in the PRL.
In the German market, Entelios offers solutions based on the management of large battery packs to help Renewable Energies to remain in the grid and as a result enables industrial customers to use renewable energy being stored in these batteries at times when the grid-frequency drops under or rises over a certain critical level.
Creating a completely new market
Agder Energi is also working on many other exciting initiatives, including Nodes, a joint project with the electricity market operator NordPool, to create a market at a more decentral level.
“With Nodes we have established a new market that has already been successfully piloted in Norway. This will make it possible for us to offer products that give residential areas and towns access to demand response markets at a more local level, so these markets will no longer be restricted to big industry”, says Syvertsen.
A new exchange where market players can offer flexible generation, wind power and demand response will help pave the way for an electricity system based on renewable energy. This reflects one of Entelios’ core values.
“A lot of our customers want to become more sustainable, and this market will help them achieve that. With these new exchanges, our demand response technology will again help to integrate more renewable energy, while also reducing the need for big investments in the transmission network. Instead of upgrading the network, we can reduce stress on the grid by adjusting electricity generation and demand. Customers also benefit from this, as it will reduce transmission tariffs in Norway, the Nordics and the rest of Europe.
The technology uses Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure, which allows the incorporation of intelligent technology such as machine learning and AI. Microsoft is working with Agder Energi on a corporate level, and last October they won a prestigious prize for their partnership.
“We want customers to come to us for advice, and for the solutions they need for a sustainable future. In addition, we want to develop the associated technology and solutions. We invest a lot of time and resources on machine learning and big data, and we are working on several projects involving AI”, says Syvertsen.
“There are other companies that offer flexibility based on their large power stations, because historically it has been coal and gas that can be ramped up and down. What is different about us is that we are offering flexibility that doesn’t produce any CO2 emissions. That’s our unique strength.”