Innovator Support: iPower

Introduction

Innovation is critical to unlocking value from decentralisation, maximising the use of renewables and enabling more efficient operation of the whole energy system.

iPower is a developer of low carbon projects, operating in both residential and commercial markets. It is a social enterprise with the charitable object of promoting sustainability and addressing fuel poverty using a range of renewable technologies, smart digital control systems which monitor and manage energy in homes and businesses, onsite energy generation and storage systems to help create a more stable, greener energy economy.

Energy Systems Catapult is working with iPower via the Innovator Support Platform to assess the current market landscape, assess the value for customers, and understand and refine their customer proposition.

The Challenge and Opportunity

The decarbonisation and decentralisation of the energy system driven by distributed generation and storage assets, such as wind, solar, batteries, electric vehicles (EV) and combined heat and power is enabling the creation of new business models utilising digital control systems.

Optimising assets to deliver savings – using mechanisms such as demand-side response and trading flexibility – allows domestic consumption to be aligned reactively when low carbon generation is at it’s highest or automatically scheduled to minimise peak load/ramping of fossil fuel generation, spreading loads over off peak periods.

The Innovation

iPower is a social enterprise with the charitable object of promoting sustainability and addressing fuel poverty. They develop low carbon projects with innovation in the integration of a range of technologies delivered through new business models.

iPower have developed a social Energy Service Company (ESCO) model, called Power Circle, with the strategic aim of being the market leading social Virtual Power Plant (VPP) utilising and servicing power, heat and transport needs as parts of unified smart local energy system and providing gainshare back into the community.

Power Circle can help meet the power, heat and EV needs of the community, cut energy bills and reduce carbon emissions. Typical project types would be;

  • Smart Solar and Storage (with EV charging)
  • Onsite generation, storage and Demand Side Response (plus renewable heat)

The ESCO develops the business case with funding options, enters into commercial terms to fully develop the project and then delivers and provides long term asset management/O&M support.

Our Approach

Energy Systems Catapult is home to the Innovator Support Platform (ISP) that draws on Catapult capabilities and assets, along with those of our partners.  The ISP provides innovators with tailored incubation and acceleration support to selected SMEs to help address systemic barriers, de-risk innovation, help businesses scale and secure investment.

Incubation Support

Tailored support for selected SMEs utilising Catapult assets and capabilities, and delivery partner offerings, such as Business Sprint’ workshops, Business Model Development, Energy System Integration assessment, Consumer Insights, Concept testing and validation, Identification of candidates for Acceleration support.

Support offered to iPower, includes:

  • Market Landscape Analysis: Review market, size, opportunity/threats and business models for social and community energy businesses. Establish what market sectors, their respective barriers and timelines for entry. Identify other key partners, routes to market not already identified.
  • Business Model Innovation: Understand the revenue streams and gain share model, key partnerships and business structure, scalability, policy and regulation risks/opportunities. Develop customer value proposition, identify IP and evaluate how differential the model is to commercial businesses; IP based upon community/social values.
  • Consumer Insights: Validate Consumer Value Proposition / Social ESCO proposition with Consumer Panel and refine for sales collateral. Service design for Social VPP that ensures objectives of community gain share/circularity and lowering of fuel poverty / vulnerable customer protection is built in. In so doing capture iPower ESCO IP proposition and barriers to entry.

To find out more about the Innovator Support Platform, click here.