Our new series of blog posts introduces this year’s participants of Japan Energy Challenge. We spoke with Tom Pakenham, Director of Electric Vehicles at Kaluza, to discuss the role his company can play in the future of Japan’s energy market.
Considering the scale of the energy system’s transition to renewables, and its impact on network stability and continuity of supply, there is a significant amount of interest surrounding so-called energy management technologies that can help mitigate these effects. Kaluza provides a platform to securely connect, control, and optimise a wide range of IoT enabled flexible assets. In this article we’ll be showcasing what makes them stand out.
Can you tell us a bit about the company and its founders?
Kaluza is an intelligent energy platform leading the digital transformation of the electricity system. It was created to solve the challenge faced by grid operators, energy suppliers and device manufacturers, of integrating millions of energy intensive appliances including electric vehicles onto the grid. Once a technology division within OVO, Kaluza now provides software and hardware solutions as well as in-home installation services to a range of partners. Supporting the global transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, Kaluza’s mission is to securely connect all devices to an intelligent zero carbon grid.
Kaluza sits under OVO Group and shares the same CEO and founder, Stephen Fitzpatrick. Since launching in 2009, OVO redesigned the energy experience to be fairer, greener and simpler for all and now serves more than 1.5m customers. Today OVO Group is no longer simply an energy retail business: it is a group of innovative, dynamic companies, all striving to harness technological advances to decentralise and decarbonise the energy system in the UK and beyond.
How does your solution fit within the wider trends of Digitalisation and Decarbonisation in the energy sector?
Transitioning away from fossil fuels is the biggest challenge we face in the 21st Century. The costs of electrical vehicles (EVs), battery storage and wind and solar power have fallen dramatically in recent years, but it’s becoming increasingly complex to integrate them onto the grid. To succeed, we will need to develop new technology and redesign the energy system around the customer.
Kaluza has taken a new approach, one through which we can leverage the falling prices of energy storage, the power of connectivity and IoT capabilities. This is how Kaluza was born, leveraging the flexibility of millions of devices and orchestrating them in real time, securely and optimally for customers, suppliers and network operators. We want to be at the forefront of the global, tech-enabled transition to a zero carbon energy system.
Kaluza has 3 big requirements to make the future’s intelligent energy platform a reality:
- Connect to & control devices that have inbuilt flexibility such as batteries, storage heaters and EVs;
- Use AI to learn, adapt, detect and optimise devices according to consumer behaviours, supply pricing, weather conditions & carbon levels; and
- Implement operational excellence and resilience so as to provide continuity of services for the ecosystem.
The Kaluza platform already provides connections to a range of IoT enabled assets from our portfolio of world-leading hardware partners. It receives telemetry from these devices, forecasts a future state of the energy system and combines that with customer information to simulate various charging paths that the assets can take. Finally, the optimised control decisions are dispatched to the individual asset.
At scale, this flexibility can create huge savings for both customers and network operators, by developing smart grid infrastructure able to accommodate millions of devices. By spreading demand across the day and reducing spikes, the grid can also make better use of renewable energy generation, helping towards decarbonisation of our energy system.
Are there milestones you are particularly proud to have achieved as a company?
As OVO Group approaches its 10th birthday it is great to reflect on the significant milestones that have got us to where we are today.
Some of Kaluza’s more poignant milestones that we’re particularly proud of as a company are: ● In 2016 we pioneered half hourly settlement as well as exceeding 100k smart meter
- In 2017 OVO and Chargemaster entered into a partnership agreement to integrate Kaluza with their charge points and supply renewable energy to their POLAR network.
- Since 2018, our own Kaluza smart charger installations have been increasing at a rapid rate.
- GlenDimplex, an Irish based consumer electronics business, is the world’s largest electrical heating OEM. OVO and Dimplex entered into a partnership agreement in 2018 to integrate Kaluza with their ‘Quantum’ connected electric heating systems.
- In 2018, OVO Group announced the first phase of investment into Munich based energy provider 4hundred, a new entrant to the German market. The investment will enable OVO and Kaluza to bring our technology platforms and products to a new market.
- In 2018, we installed the UK’s first V2G charger in a customer’s home. We were also selected by the UK Government to pioneer vehicle-to-grid technology in the UK in collaboration with Nissan, Indra and Cenex; the largest V2G programme in the world.
- In January 2019 it was announced that Mitsubishi Corporation had invested a 20 per cent stake in OVO Group as the Japanese industrial group seeks growth and a foothold in the digital energy transition.
- In 2019 Kaluza invested in Electron, an energy technology company that leverages blockchain. The investment will accelerate Electron’s deployment of distributed energy trading platforms that will enable the transition to intelligent grid infrastructure.
Let’s look at Japan Energy Challenge’s scope: what specifically attracted you about the prospect of expanding to the Japanese market?
With Japan being the fourth largest electricity consuming nation in the world, combined with the fact that it is going through a period of rapid political, industrial and technological change, makes it a particularly attractive market for Kaluza to penetrate.
Japan is widely considered to have one of the most dynamic and exciting energy markets in the world. Kaluza is a world leader in energy flexibility technology and is drawn by the potential of partnering with the forward-thinking, innovative partners of Japan Energy Challenge. Together we can work to enhance the residential product offerings available in Japan so that Japan Energy Challenge participants can become leaders in the energy transition.
And finally, how will your solution promote the expansion and modernisation of the Japanese energy sector?
Kaluza operates an end-to-end solution, providing software, hardware and in-home installation services to a range of partners. Kaluza is leading the way in the energy transition with its ability to connect to millions of smart devices, such as electric vehicles, heaters and in-home batteries, to produce vast quantities of flexible load. By bringing Kaluza’s solutions to Japan, we could help promote the rate of modernisation and expansion of energy technology services in the Japanese energy sector.
Residential flexibility is a key enabler of the energy transition and could save up to £7bn a year in the UK alone. In Japan’s huge energy market, the potential savings are just as significant if not larger. Kaluza has the ability to help optimise devices at scale in Japan to offset demand, cut carbon and help Japan become leaders in the global energy transition.
Kaluza will be taking part in Japan Energy Challenge in London this year, you can read about the other companies taking part in this year’s edition here. You can also find out more about the program, ventures and sponsors by clicking the links.