The world’s first real-time ‘source of origin’ based energy system has been launched by Swedish utility Vattenfall and IT giant Microsoft.
Called 24/7 Matching, the solution, being piloted at the companies respective country headquarters in Solna and Stockholm, will make it possible for electricity users to shift from year-based to hour-based data linked to so-called Guarantees of Origin (GOs), an electronic document that provides proof of the source of renewable energy.
The system, built around Microsoft’s Azure IoT (internet of things) platform, will connect energy generation data from wind, solar and hydropower production with smart meters that measure consumption in real-time.
“Microsoft has high renewable ambitions and this solution shows how new digital solutions and technology can be used to enable a fossil free living,” said Andreas Regnell, senior vice president of strategic development at Vattenfall. “The solution gives us possibilities to offer customers specific data and unique precision, that can support them in decisions, environmental efforts and communication.”
Daniel Akenine, national technology officer at Microsoft Sweden, said: “With this new level of transparency, you can see if your commitment to 100% renewable energy covers each hour of consumption.
“This pilot that combines Vattenfall’s energy expertise and technology from the Microsoft cloud has the potential to change the dynamics of renewable energy production and consumption to accelerate the reality of a fossil-free future for everyone.”
Among the foreseen benefits of a GO-based system are: power suppliers can more clearly see demands for renewable energy hour-by-hour and “take action” to balance production levels, and businesses moving to 100% clean-energy can chart each hour of consumption and “translate sourcing of renewable energy into climate impact”.
“24/7 matching of consumption to production drives true market demand for renewable energy,” said the companies, noting that system could “inspire” regulatory change in how GOs and renewable energy credits “are created, acquired, and retired”.
Tom Lindberg, CEO of corporate renewables consultancy ECOHZ, said: “We believe the market and systems for tracking and documenting renewable power over time will move toward higher time granularity – thus allowing for more customised matching of consumption and production
“We have seen numerous interesting announcements the last year – all attempting to deliver more granular solutions than what has been the norm in today’s system for GOs.
“Many have related this development to the need for new enabling technology – like blockchain, but we believe this is more an issue of whether the market is ready or not. And whether there is a real willingness to pay for the matching capability.
Lindberg cautions that creating “market pockets” of real-time hourly data on energy production and consumption will lead to “imbalances”, increasing volatility and so pushing up the price level for GOs overall.
“This is not necessarily negative for the renewable producers, but many buyers may then still opt for a ‘traditional’ yearly matched purchase”, he noted.
The corporate renewables market has grown rapidly and diversified in recent years, with BloombergNEF forecasting companies are set to sign a record level of clean energy power contracts in 2019, on track to outstrip the 13.4GW notched up last year .