Innovator Support: GEN SIG Digital Energy System

Introduction

Digital services and cloud platforms are critical to unlocking value from the decentralisation and decarbonisation of the UK energy system. The use of new digital energy technologies will assist in maximising the use of renewables and their real time interaction with the local grid, enabling more cost-efficient operation of the whole energy system, saving money and cutting carbon.

GEN SIG’s real-time smart energy IoT hardware and cloud solutions are designed to remotely control energy assets and sources with seamless integration with existing systems and provide the ability to optimise the operation of behind the meter industrial and commercial utility assets. Energy Systems Catapult is offering GEN SIG expertise to refine their business value proposition, scoping the competitor landscape and assisting in investor readiness preparation.

The Challenge and Opportunity

Work by the Catapult’s Smart Systems and Heat programme, Future Power Systems Architecture and Energy Path Operations has shown significant requirement for digital energy solutions to manage many scenarios in future energy system.  These solutions also present their own challenges such as cybersecurity risks, speed of response and coordination of distributed resources to provide an optimised system solution.

The decentralisation of energy generation and distribution, combined with the rising availability of battery storage and adoption of electric vehicles, is enabling new service models and consumer benefits which capitalise on use of local generation and optimising existing assets to deliver savings – using mechanisms such as peer-to-peer trading, demand-side response and new markets in trading flexibility.

However, this shift is also putting strain on local energy network infrastructure at the lower voltage ranges and as such, the value of controlling flexible loads at the edge of the grid will become an ever-increasing priority for distribution network/service operators (DNOs/DSOs) and will drive value in this emerging market.

The Innovation

GEN SIG is an energy innovation company developing and manufacturing new digital energy hardware and software (Cloud) solutions for the emerging IoT (Internet of Things) industrial and commercial remote monitoring, reporting and asset control market.

GEN SIG who are based in Tamworth, near Birmingham have designed and developed their own proprietary digital energy technologies and cloud systems ensuring all intellectual property (IP) associated with product development and manufacture cycle are internally controlled and protected.  Its digital control and automation and field applications use the most up to date 4G IoT gateways and provide the most up to date data encryption and authentication.

The GEN SIG technologies are being used to optimise energy use and reduce costs whilst automating the system integration of generation, and storage resources, and introducing new income streams enabling consumers to participation in balancing markets. What’s more, GEN SIG controls extend into the local network and can deliver additional benefits to the DSO/DNO by balancing energy flows and reducing the need for network reinforcement.

Through an Ofgem R2 regulatory ‘sandbox’, GEN SIG are one of only three UK energy market innovators who have been given a special regulatory derogation for the trial of behind the meter control digital technologies to optimise existing roof top solar, batteries, main supplies with that of local low voltage grid to innovate and validate a new market model specific to social housing.

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.

The complexity of integrating batteries with sensors and controls in a home environment, combined with attempts to push the regulatory barriers, requires a deep understanding of the whole energy system.

The ISP is helping GEN SIG to identify opportunities arising from current transitions in the energy market that best exploit its technology. We are advising GEN SIG on market positioning, as well as engaging with appropriate sales channel partners through development of a robust commercial business model.

Support offered to SIG, includes:

  • Competitive Landscape: Catapult partner Clear Blue Energy has identified competitors, key strengths and potential blind spots. The ISP team also helped develop their target market and strategy (which informed their next work package: Business Modelling).
  • Business Value Proposition: Our Business Model Innovation team reviewed, refined and audited the business value proposition to ensure GEN SIG had a detailed understanding of the value, data and processes within its business model. A financial model is also under development to outline and reflect the financial flows and values for a GEN SIG customer in a specific application. These outputs may be used to strengthen the investment presentation.
  • Investor Readiness: The ISP team are carrying out an investment diagnostic exercise with SIG emphasising the need to maintain B2B opportunities as well as continuing the focus on a new social housing market energy services solution.

Feedback

We can’t praise the team highly enough at Energy Systems Catapult in how they have helped us to really look at our energy innovation business in a completely different light, said Jim Allen, Managing Director of Green Energy Networks.

As a new Midland based company in the design, development and manufacture of new digital GPRS-GSM-3G-4G energy technologies providing future ready asset monitoring and control systems, in the Cloud, we thought we knew what our competitive positioning was and therefore our market strategy. We realised early on as part of the ESC Innovator Support Programme that we had some major gaps in both our strategic thinking and market approaches.

Having industry experts independently review our strategic route to market and assess how our technologies and service offering stacked up against other competitor businesses was an invaluable exercise.  We are still working on the development of our business model canvas and commercial benefit analysis for different markets and this will be continuing for some time yet.

So, this is the story so far, as our time within the ISP continues beyond the programme where we feel that we have become part of the team and are now working together on market innovation projects that will literally catapult our business to the next stage of its evolution.