pv magazine Australia: RedGrid enables the easy creation of local micro-grids, both within the home, and the local community, how does it do this?
RedGrid: Our software forms micro-grids by integrating with the devices that produce and consume energy within a local community, connecting them in a digital energy network. This includes energy consuming devices/appliances, storage devices, generation (like solar) and even grid infrastructure.
Once enabled those devices form a ‘community’ and are given an awareness that enables them to act based on local and global conditions.
This means that distributed, and currently unrelated devices, can adjust and shift energy behaviour automatically to provide energy efficiency, optimisation and grid stability benefits.
It also enables value to be accounted for at a device level, meaning we can create accounting systems that reward “presumption” and positive energy behaviour within a local community or system.
This model creates a micro-grid, a virtual economy and self-sustaining energy ecosystem within a community.
What is RedGrid’s mission?
Our mission as a business is to create software that accelerates the global transformation to clean renewable energy. But our vision goes beyond net-zero. We see the future of energy as distributed where community, residential solar and storage are, for the most part, locally sourced. With that in mind, we see a future of communities being net providers of clean energy and where that value is rewarded and directly redeemable.
What role do you see for micro-grids play in this?
We believe that micro-grids and community driven projects are the key pillar that will unlock and enable the transformation to clean energy, and we are seeing evidence of this in our discussions in the industry.
The role of centralised generation is still relevant and will be for the foreseeable future, but the trajectory for energy is clearly towards independent energy communities, homes and businesses. We want to provide the tools that support and accelerate that independence and resilience.
But what is happening in terms of real-world projects?
What’s really exciting is the opportunities for innovation that these microgrids present once established. For example, in our first project as a startup we worked with a Bangladeshi company called SOLshare. SOLshare offers IoT devices that support local energy trading, keeping energy profits within the community to support the growth of these remote economies.
We worked with them to develop an automated energy donation mechanism, which enabled solar customers of a utility in Germany with excess energy to donate a proportion of that energy value to specific individuals, businesses or groups in these villages. This donation was then automatically sent to users SOLboxes, topping up their balance and giving that particular individual the energy they need. Through this, two microgrids in completely different continents were bridged through software, creating a passive form of value sharing that not only contributed to the proliferation of solar power, but also the true democratisation of clean energy.
Can you set out how a concept like the Internet of Energy informs these kinds of systems?
The Internet of Energy is the underlying protocol that enables energy devices to communicate, coordinate and exchange value across brands, architectures, systems and jurisdictions. Like the protocols that underpin the information internet, the internet of energy protocol will be open source and free for anyone to implement and integrate. This approach is necessary to accelerate and achieve pervasive adoption required to realise a true energy ecosystem.
At RedGrid we are stewards of this new protocol and champions for its enablement. Our vision is that by connecting these currently disconnected devices, in a way that is private, secure and scalable we can create opportunities for orchestration at all levels from the device, to the home, suburb, state, country and even between countries.
What RedGrid is doing with our proprietary business is building the applications that will take advantage of this protocol to deliver the multi-layered orchestration outcomes above.
Our first application of this strategy is in the form of an adaptive demand management application for currently uncoordinated devices, like air-conditioners or pool pumps. This application makes slight adjustments to your air conditioner, for example selecting to pre-cool outside of peak periods, or by cycling your pool pump off according to an algorithm. These slight alterations are made with minimal impact to comfort or operation but can have massive benefits, such as greatly lowering your energy costs and, at a macro-level, relieving pressure on the grid in times of distress.
Initially we are providing this product to corporate clients and facility managers, however once developed and fully matured we will begin offering it to the residential market.
RedGrid is able to provide a route to the decentralised architecture of our energy future, how can it do this? And why is RedGrid’s solution superior to a Blockchain solution?
Centralised architectures are not private, secure, scalable or efficient enough to manage the tidal wave of devices that will need to be orchestrated throughout our grid. The technology solution to enable a distributed energy system must also be distributed and peer-to-peer.
Blockchain is one solution that offered to enable that, and it does get us part of the way there. However, it is inherently limited by its structure that requires all data to go through a central ledger. This creates challenges with; transaction speed, the amount of data that can be stored, and scalability.
We leverage a new form of distributed technology called “holochain”. Holochain applies an entirely different approach and offers the benefits of a distributed system without the constraints that are present in a blockchain based architecture. Instead of feeding data back into a global ledger, holochain enables devices within a network to hold a dynamic source of truth that is locally contextual. Devices are able to connect with other devices and share an understanding of the interactions that are occurring within their relevant environment. This creates a truly peer-to-peer, machine-to-machine capability that is more powerful than other architectures available in the market.
Besides the Bangladesh project, what other projects are you working on?
Right now, we are working on some very exciting projects with several corporate partners including Energy Australia, Spotless and other corporate clients. We are also working with Monash University as their distributed energy provider for Net Zero Smart Energy City project which recently won the Global UN Momentum for Change Climate Action Award.
We are also exploring opportunities with several community projects, property developers and corporate clients. The majority of these projects include PV services as these assets are fundamental to the transactive energy system and protocol we are developing.
RedGrid took part in ARENA’s Incubate 2018, how was that experience and what came from it?
The incubator was a great experience for our business and team. Through the program we were able to meet and access many experts within the energy industry who we continue to collaborate with, and who still provide mentorship to our business strategy.
In addition to the formal program we also formed some collaborative partnerships with other startups and businesses working to disrupt this industry. Several of these partnerships have developed into commercial collaborations so this was a hugely rewarding program for us that is still paying dividends today. It is also where we defined our platform as the Internet of Energy.
What is the most exciting technological innovation burgeoning in the industry today?
We’re most excited by how more devices and household appliances are becoming internet connected, along with the incredible innovations in distributed software architectures. The convergence of these technologies is presenting the opportunity to create a brand-new energy system that starts with individuals. This will help us accelerate the rapid transition towards a clean energy future.
What’s next for RedGrid?
We’ve just launched our public investment round, and since opening on Tuesday we’ve raised over $500,000! We want the people of Australia to come with us on our journey to build a smarter grid, and a cleaner future. You can join us at: https://www.birchal.com/company/redgrid
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