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Increasing revenue for renewable energy providers

Peter Richardson - Co-founder, NovoGrid

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Peter Richardson

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What is your idea?

We have developed software to intelligently manage the transfer of energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, onto the electricity grid. This will result in improved cash flow yields for energy providers.

What problem are you solving and what is innovative about your approach?

Renewable energy sources, and particularly wind, supply an important segment of energy to the economy. However, renewable energy providers need to integrate their energy output into a grid system that was not built for that purpose, and this can lead to inefficient energy transfer. This inefficiency results in unnecessary energy losses and, ultimately, lost revenue for energy providers.

Some approaches seek to address this by constructing additional energy infrastructure to accommodate renewable energy sources, but this can be expensive.

Instead, at NovoGrid we have a smart, software-based solution that can improve the efficiency of local energy integration with the existing infrastructure.

Our algorithm analyses local network conditions and autonomously chooses the appropriate operating set point for the wind farm at that time, with no need for central control or communications. By doing so, our software can improve the annual energy production of an individual wind farm by 1-2 per cent.

What’s the backstory here and how did you get involved?

This project arose from research carried out at the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at University College Dublin by myself, Dr Peter Richardson, and by NovoGrid co-founder Dr Andrew Keane. Co-founder Paul Manning, who has a background in entrepreneurship and who has been involved in several start-up companies, came on board to explore commercial aspects of the technology.

To date NovoGrid has been supported by the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund to build, configure and implement a working prototype at a wind farm. NovoGrid participated in the NDRC's VentureLab programme and won the 2014 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Award.

How is this idea commercially attractive?

The inefficient delivery of energy from wind farms can result in an estimated loss each year of €2.3 billion for wind famers around the world, and with an expected increase in renewable energy use this figure could triple by 2020.

NovoGrid’s software solution reduces this inefficiency resulting in an increased annual energy output of as much as 1-2 per cent compared to existing approaches. Thus a relatively small capital outlay translates into increased daily revenue for the individual wind farm.

Our sales model is to configure and implement the NovoGrid control solution for individual customers at wind farms, then to monitor the system and provide software support. We anticipate a value-share model in the future.

What are you looking for at the Big Ideas event?

We are currently looking to raise investment of €750,000, and we are interested in advice and networking to expand into the UK market.

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