Gavin Sallery, Chief Technology Officer at Kiwi Power, introduces himself and the story behind Kiwi Core.
Where did you join Kiwi Power from?
Prior to joining Kiwi Power four years ago, I spent a large part of my career in banking – in fact, I was there for 20 years. I was involved in technical activities for the big banks and took a keen interest in big data, regulatory compliance and process. Although a very different sector, it turned out to be very relevant for life at Kiwi Power given technology’s crucial role in energy. So, I brought that skill-set with me, introducing cloud computing and real-time data feeds to our distributed energy resource platform.
How important is real-time visibility to power generation?
It’s essential. If you don’t know what your asset is doing, and subsequently don’t know how much capacity it has, you cannot easily respond to the needs of the market. We place a lot of focus on real-time data, for example we’re currently looking at sub-second pricing, so every milli-second counts. That’s why we engineered our distributed energy platform, Kiwi Core, to give us second-by-second visibility of the assets we manage. It provides the accuracy and reliability to dispatch assets at the exact moment the grid needs the support. And what’s more, it’s simple to use.
How does the platform work?
To get the platform right we need a good database. One that can cope with ingesting huge amounts of data without fail, while also making it readable, digestible, and therefore, actionable. Security is also key and cloud technology plays a crucial role here. We’re cloud hosters, which underpins the fundamentals of the platform in a secure way. It is also important to think about this technology from an end user perspective. Collecting and analysing this data only give clients value if they can access it in an easy-to-understand format. We use web technology to display this information with a real-time stream, so there’s no refreshing or clunky loading of pages.
Is it all about software?
Software and technology are key elements, but we also own a valuable piece of hardware – Kiwi Fruit. This hardware comes into its own with legacy grid assets where we can plug the Fruit in and gain real-time control. We’ve partnered with Electric Imp for their software-as-a-service solution to provide a secure, end-to-end channel for managing the assets.
How does this work support the grid?
The grid has evolved and adapted as demand for renewable energy has grown. This has led to the growth of aggregators who help people to monetise distributed energy resources (DERs) and support the grid. The growth of renewables requires more demand management actions and ultimately helps to reduce the CO 2 intensity of the grid, as we reduce our reliance on fossil fuel generation. Demand side response remains complex, so a lot of people aren’t yet accessing the market. Our platform enables more people to participate. This opens more market entrants and encourages competition, which ultimately reduces power prices.
What impact has Covid-19 had?
The flexibility trend is here to stay so in that sense Covid-19 hasn’t had an impact on the direction of travel. But it did create some short-term impacts for National Grid ESO – in short – the normal grid profile changed. It was harder to predict when peaks would occur, which saw DERs become even more valuable to help balance the grid.
How will this change in the future?
One obvious area is electric vehicles. We could have potentially millions of energy assets through EVs, providing demand management services to the grid. Coal plants are coming offline, so it’s important we expand grid flexibility to support our transition to an even greener energy mix. We’ll reach a point where energy management becomes part of our everyday lives and is no longer seen as disruptive. We’re here to support people on the journey to a more flexible future by simplifying the process for all involved.
A version of this interview first appeared on Renewable Energy Magazine.