Recently, Vertiv and Upside Energy announced a new partnership in the UK that will allow Vertiv’s Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) customers to use Upside’s cloud-based platform to provide unutilised energy to the grid, revolutionising energy markets.
Here, Emiliano Cevenini, vice president of commercial and industrial vertical markets for Vertiv in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Devrim Celal, CEO of Upside Energy, discuss what this really means.
1. Can you tell us about Vertiv and the key part of your business this partnership will affect?
The rise of IoT, connected devices and the proliferation of streaming services has seen more and more businesses investing in Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) systems, as consumers come to expect consistent service. This a major part of our business, typically supporting the business-critical organisations that cannot afford downtime due to the services they provide. These UPS systems act as ‘back up’ power should something like a mains failure occur, ultimately minimising business interruption for a whole host of companies.
However, the nature of UPS devices means that they are only used in the occasional occurrence that traditional power sources fail. This means that UPS owners have a bank of energy stored which could be used for other purposes. And this is where the real opportunity lies: to utilise this stored energy in a different way.
2. How will the model work for your customers?
Vertiv UPS customers can smoothly transition their UPS systems from being a backup source only, to having a more proactive function. The concept is that the battery has the capability to feed electricity in the other direction, i.e. into the public power grid. There’s an increasing need for energy storage on the grid to help even out supply peaks and troughs and UPS systems can help meet that need.
Upside Energy’s technology platform will continuously and remotely monitor the UPS systems of our customers who opt in, utilising battery storage to provide flexibility to the grid while the UPS primary function as emergency backup power remains unaltered. Not only does this help run the UK electricity grid more effectively, but it also allows UPS owners to generate value and make savings on their energy bill. This model also makes UPS systems more attractive for potential customers as they can now generate more value.
Depending on the type and size of the installed devices, Vertiv customers will benefit from value-added services at better conditions, potentially during the entire operational life of their devices, and depending on their energy supply contract, type of load etc. they could achieve cost reductions in their energy bill.
3. Why did you choose to embark on a partnership with Upside Energy?
It’s well known that data centre power consumption is not only high, but on the increase – it’s actually set to soar three fold over the next 10 years. Therefore, we have an important role to play in helping our customers act in a more eco-friendly way. Our partnership is inevitably a major step in the right direction.
Upside Energy is a company with deep knowledge of the UK energy market. It’s powerful cloud-based advanced algorithmic platform has the capability to manage the demand response of up to 100,000 devices or systems running in parallel, and with its modern cloud-based approach, it is enabling a revolution in the energy market.
4. What benefits will this have on the wider industry?
This partnership demonstrates that while data centres may play a role in energy consumption, there are steps that can be taken to counteract some of the impacts this may have. Working with Upside Energy means that as the UK electricity grid increasingly uses more intermittent (sun, wind) renewable energy sources, Vertiv’s UPS can Help ensure a more stable energy grid
Working with Upside shows the value that can be added by also looking to start-ups for innovation, and collaborating with different experts, to create new solutions that can tackle wider industry issues. This is something that even other vertical markets can learn from.
5. What’s next for the partnership with Upside Energy?
We’re looking forward to building on this partnership and connecting more of our fleet of UPS over the next few years and expanding the offering to new regions. Obviously, this is dependent on a number of factors. In some countries, like the UK, it will be faster thanks to energy partners like Upside Energy, while in others this can take more time. It also depends on the characteristics of the local power grid and the use of renewables; countries that are further ahead with renewable adoption will have a bigger requirement for energy storage including UPS-based approaches such as the system we have developed with Upside.
6. Can you tell us about Upside Energy and what you’re trying to achieve?
Upside Energy’s cloud-based platform uses advanced algorithms and AI to coordinate devices in businesses and households including battery storage systems, UPS systems, electric vehicles and heating and cooling systems.
The software matches demand for energy with the available supply leading to significant savings in costs and emissions. System operators pay Upside to create these savings, and we share that revenue with the manufacturers and owners of the devices we control. We create value for both the energy system and for energy users.
By doing this we are a significant enabler to the more efficient use of electricity, the reduction of reliance on fossil fuels and ultimately the move to a zero carbon economy. It’s a revolution in the storage and distribution of energy.
7. Can you tell us more about the technology behind Upside, particularly the algorithms it uses?
There are four aspects to our technology:
- Real-time Dispatch Engine: This is a real-time engine that can react to events in 100 milliseconds, it is based on a patented algorithm that can scale up to 100,000s of devices managed in real time with the same response times.
- Forecasting: We use machine learning for forecast site loads (electricity demand) up to 24 hours ahead. This is key intelligence for traders in planning their strategies.
- Optimisation: We provide a volume optimisation service to traders that presents capacities of 1000s of devices as a single volume with an associated cost of dispatch for each trading period. This takes into account grid constraints, asset characteristics, cost of dispatch and others. It can handle 1000s of scenarios each time to determine the optimal dispatch schedule.
- Analytics: We use the data we collect from individual devices to develop state tables. These allow us to detect changes in behaviour both in comparison to itself in time and against other devices in the same category. These changes are used to create preventative maintenance alerts.
8. Why did you choose to partner with Vertiv?
Vertiv are globally renowned for their power and supply management technology and in this market their name, scale, professionalism and leadership are a great combination with our cutting edge technology to help us gain widespread usage.
9. Is this an industry in which you feel is most important to address?
The energy technology industry is relatively young but very fast moving. We have gone from energy being a business area where change happened gradually to one where the change is happening at pace. In that environment we are well placed to enable our partners such as Vertiv as well as their customers to take full advantage of the new opportunities available.
10. What’s unique about this partnership with Vertiv?
The close alignment of our strategy with Vertiv are unique in my experience whilst the close and supportive working relationship we have already developed is one which I have absolute confidence will result in direct benefit for Vertiv’s customers.