SME Stories: Iván Castro, Co-Founder of Levelise

Published: 13 May 2020

The intelligent energy management kit developed by Levelise has huge potential to cut consumer bills, ease strain on the electricity network and reduce carbon emissions.

The company’s co-founder Iván Castro recalls how his small R&D project transformed into a 13-strong business, and how the Innovator Support Platform helped simplify their message to customers and take a strategic view of the future.

Business Name: Levelise

Founder(s): Iván Castro

Location: Oxford Science Park

Year established: 2017

Number of employees: 13

Tell us about your innovation and challenges?

We created an AI-led flexibility-as-a-service solution for the residential market from scratch. It currently manages 5000+ li-ion batteries co-located with rooftop solar and distributed across UK.

From being the first in UK to provide dynamic Firm Frequency Response with domestic assets back in October, we have now scaled up to 5MW in just six months and it has become business-as-usual. Nevertheless, as one can easily imagine handling 1.6M datapoints per household per day through home broadband to autonomously model, predict and orchestrate operations of each site in a secure & cost-effective way is not a trivial thing. Also, it required to completely streamline the pre-qualification process, as well as to automate bidding.

How did Energy Systems Catapult help you?

The Catapult provided key know-how on developing the consumer proposition. This allows for removing any potential non-technical barriers to engage with consumers. So through their insights we obtained a better understanding on how our technology is perceived and what the appropriate service models are to ensure its wide adoption can be achieved – not only for early adopters such battery owners, but also for all representative archetypes.

Thanks to ESC, the BEIS-funded pilot we are running as part of the USER Project is now in a stronger position as they provided us crucial niche skills, particularly on consumer insights. Also through its expertise in pilots, the Catapult is now ensuring the triallist experience is as smooth as possible – its feedback is already providing us ways to improve our processes.

We’re glad to have partnered with Energy Systems Catapult, and we’re looking forward to continuing that relationship.

What does the future look like now?

We’re now focusing on accessing new domestic assets, starting with hot water cylinders which are omnipresent in UK. Hot water heating represents a latent opportunity for residential flexibility and will allow for it becoming mainstream. Hence, we’re focusing on enabling the operation of both new and existing cylinders to provide flexibility services.

The next focus is on overseas markets and extending the range of flexibility services we provide within UK, regardless of the type of domestic asset. We’re pioneering services to distribution networks which bring a different set of challenges in terms of the location of the response.

Despite all now working remotely because of COVID-19, we continue to make progress at similar pace.