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Open Energy gives customers the power to create a more sustainable energy system. Enode’s accelerating the change.

In June of 2023, the UK’s National Grid hit the headlines. In the midst of a sweltering heatwave, it turned on a coal-burning power plant to meet the surge in demand for aircon, breaking a 46 day streak in which coal had not been used to generate electricity. It came at significant cost to the taxpayer, and raised a lot of questions about why the grid couldn’t have used renewable energy sources instead.

The answer was simple: in the extreme heat, the wind hadn’t been blowing. The UK relies on wind power for about 25% of electricity generation, and while solar made up some of the shortfall, it still wasn’t enough. So, what was the alternative? Risk power outages across the UK, and have people sitting in the heat and dark?

Actually, there was one other option – and it was one the National Grid had experimented with just months earlier. In January of 2023, the National Grid offered its demand flexibility service for the first time. Customers with smart meters could turn down their energy consumption for just an hour at peak time, in return for a reduction in their energy bill.

1.6million households and businesses participated, saving over 3,300MWh of electricity – enough to power nearly 10 million homes. The Grid didn’t have to risk outages, or rely on dirty, expensive coal production. Which begs the question – why aren’t we seeing these services being deployed more consistently, and at greater scale?

The good news is, we are. Or at least, we’re starting to. We’re in the early days of the Open Energy revolution – a tech-enabled shift towards a more sustainable energy system. Innovators are emerging across the ecosystem, creating smart energy devices and energy management apps which make demand flexibility more accessible for more people. And it’s not just Demand Response: more use cases are being developed every day that put power quite literally in the hands of customers.

Changing the way we interact with the grid is complex, but It’s critical in order to meet our climate goals. At Enode, it’s our mission to simplify and accelerate that change. Here’s how we’re doing it – and why it matters so much.

Putting customers in control of the energy transformation

Talking about a more sustainable energy system sounds good, but actually picturing what the Future of Energy would look like is challenging for a lot of people.

That’s partly because, for a lot of customers, engagement with their energy consumption is superficial at best. Customers care about it, and deeply: 96% of UK homeowners are concerned about their home energy efficiency; 9 in 10 are concerned about the energy crisis, and in a cost of living crisis, cutting energy bills is top of mind for all. But it’s well-known in the energy industry that customers spend just eight minutes per year engaging with their utilities.

Customers don’t currently have the tools to meaningfully change their consumption patterns, let alone to do so effortlessly. The technology they rely on to manage most other aspects of their life, like online banking, hasn’t arrived in the energy space yet. In the Future of Energy, it will be easy for them to optimize their energy consumption – and they’ll reap the rewards for doing so.

Our current Grid is centralized. A handful of power plants are responsible for large-scale energy generation, which is fed out to households across the country via long transmission lines. This design worked well when we could rely on flexible, fossil-based generation and predictable demand patterns. But with electrification increasing, it’s no longer fit for purpose. Electrification both increases demand for electricity, and changes the pattern of that demand, making it difficult to balance with intermittency of renewable energy sources.

In the future, energy will be decentralized. Millions of smaller distributed energy resources (DERs), like solar inverters, electric vehicles, heat pumps and home batteries, will be able to generate, store or redistribute energy when it’s most needed. All those DERs will be software-enabled, so they can read and respond to fluctuations in grid conditions. That might mean pausing EV charging at times of peak demand, so they can participate in Demand Response programs, releasing excess solar energy stored in home batteries back to the grid to help balance supply and demand, or using stored solar energy to charge EVs. There’ll be lots more use cases like these, and they’ll be automated. Customers will simply have to enable them in an app to contribute to a healthier Grid system, cut their energy bills, or even make money by selling energy back to the Grid.

Building software solutions for a more sustainable future

If this sounds like a step-change, that’s because it is. But it’s also already underway. More DERs are in customers’ homes than ever, and more energy innovators are building the solutions to help customers manage and realize the value of them.

So what’s Enode’s role in all this? The mesh that connects all the elements in the Future of Energy – customers to DERs, DERs to the grid – is software. For everything to work in harmony, we need to be able to access data, enable communication and interoperability across the ecosystem, and automate responses. Software allows us to scale energy innovation, making it more efficient, and more accessible to more people.

That connectivity, communication and control, is what Enode provides. Our API makes it easy to connect DERs to energy management apps, securely share real-time data between them, and automatically action that data. Let’s look at that Demand Response example again. The National Grid had to ask customers to manually reduce their energy usage at a set time. With Enode, customers could instantly connect (for instance) their EV to an energy management app. It would analyze the EV’s state of charge, look for windows of low demand, and automatically adjust the EV’s charging schedule to align – with no behavioral change or effort required of the customer.

Powering the Open Energy revolution

With the digital infrastructure that Enode provides, energy innovators can create many more use cases that add value for customers, and get them into market faster. Leveraging our API means innovators don’t have to waste their efforts building and maintaining hundreds of separate integrations, standardizing the data they surface, and struggling with complex system architecture. They can focus on doing what they do best: building experiences customers love.

APIs are a fundamental part of the Open Energy revolution. We call it Open Energy because it’s modeled on the Open Banking transformation that took us from legacy banking to the proliferation of fintechs we all use today. The parallels are striking. Before Open Banking, our banking system was similar to our energy system. It was old infrastructure, built for a different time and different needs. It had complex systems that were hard to navigate. It wasn’t digitized; customers had little visibility, little engagement and less control over their financial lives. And it was dominated by incumbents who found it hard to innovate within their legacy business models.

Open Banking changed that. APIs gave fintech innovators access to all the data that was locked away inside the banking system, and let them build with it. Today, customers can control everything from budgeting to loans to insurance and more with a few taps on an app.

That’s what inspired us at Enode. We want to give energy innovators the tools (and time) they need to change the way energy works, and to put the power to create a more sustainable energy system in the hands of consumers.

To find out more about what we enable, explore our use cases or get in touch.

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