Get to Know Synergy Alpha
Updated: May 31, 2019
Last month we put out our Power Update, giving you the lowdown on Synergy Alpha, the successful conclusion of which has launched us firmly onto the path of Beta. This article serves as a fleshed-out follow-up to that previous summary report, for those of you who are keen to get into the weeds so as to better track our progress.
Synergy Alpha is the closed and limited version of Synergy, our peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading platform connecting a network of solar PV systems to energy users through the main grid. The Alpha featured a total of 15 sites—12 consumers and 3 prosumers—and showcased the user experience from initial account creation up to billing.
The full retail liberalisation of Singapore’s electricity sector, together with its favourable market structure and robust regulatory environment, presents new opportunities for greater competition, innovation, and incentives, making the island state an ideal market for the deployment of P2P energy trading.
Moreover, ELECTRIFY possesses a comparative advantage in this market with its existing retail electricity marketplace business, which is complemented by the technical and domain expertise of its core team. Founders Julius Tan and Martin Lim are veterans in Singapore’s retail electricity sector while Zhi Wei Cheng, Head of Product and Strategy, is an expert on regional electricity markets. Together, they have built a strong team that includes experienced IT and blockchain developers, energy researchers, and electricity market advisors.
Synergy, in its fully realised form, will enable prosumers to earn stable revenue from their excess electricity while offering consumers a greater selection of energy options at fairer prices. Further, by equipping households and businesses with the means to select and track the generation source of their power, Synergy will allow consumers to understand and interact with their energy supply in new, innovative ways. Finally, Synergy will smoothen imbalances created by fluctuating supply/demand with its portfolio balancing and network effects.
The success criteria for the Alpha were:
Onboard at least 3 prosumers and 10 consumers onto the Synergy platform
Demonstrate P2P energy trading capabilities between prosumers and consumers
Enable prosumers and consumers to access customisable dashboards to view their production, consumption, and energy supply plans
The Alpha was carried out in two phases: functional and usability testing. In the functional phase, we sought to create the client- and server-side scripts that would integrate PowerPod, our IoT gateway for capturing and transmitting energy production and consumption data, with our live dashboards. In the usability testing phase, we focused on the user journey for our prosumers and consumers, enhancing visualisation for data charts and optimising the contract for difference (CFD) settlement process.
Development of front-end and back-end dashboards with live data feeds from PowerPods and EMC.
Data from PowerPod includes:
Power produced and/or consumed
Other sensors if available (i.e. irradiance, temperature, humidity)
Data from EMC includes:
Uniform Singapore Energy Price (USEP) data
Market demand data
Establishment of a small demonstration featuring a residential rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system with PowerPod and irradiance sensors
Usability Testing Phase
Further development of user dashboards
Base (physical, based on USEP) + CFD settlement line items (paper)
Production and consumption data, pricing, settlement, and basic accountingHistorical data
Cost price for each customer + CFD settlement
Pricing options and reports generation
Total payable = payment to prosumer + payment to retailer
Consumption breakdown, pricing, settlement, and basic accounting
ELECTRIFY Admin View:
For operations, user, and retailer support
Super Admin (Internal View):
ToolsMonitoring and alerting modules for various projects, regions, and deployments
Analytics and business Intelligence
Recruitment of interested parties for closed-door usability testing
Online sign-up sheet for prosumers and consumers
Marketing through ELECTRIFY's media channels
Deployment of IoT hardware at selected prosumer and consumer sites
Engage Licensed Electrical Workers (LEW) authorised by the EMA to perform electrical installation works
Hardware team to test various hardware options and communication protocols to evaluate stability, performance, and cost
Execution of an end-to-end P2P energy trading cycle from registration to billing
Participants will engage in P2P trading for a period of three months and receive a simulated bill on a monthly basis
PowerPod is Electrify’s IoT gateway for capturing and transmitting energy data from consumers and prosumers. Our team has conducted technology scanning and selected BlueOne as the vendor for PowerPod. The current model, HJ8000, is an industrial router capable of data transmission through LAN, 3G/4G, and WiFi. It supports various communication protocols (TCP/IP, UDP, ICMP, SMTP, HTTP, POP3, etc) and features an embedded Linux system to ensure stability and security of data transmission. Our team will continue to field-test other models and technology options.
Synergy’s general architecture is illustrated below:
All success criteria met.
Onboarded 12 consumers and 3 prosumers. Electrical works were carried out by licensed contractors and the initial configuration by the ELECTRIFY team.
Completed back-end IT integration with the existing infrastructure of a professionally managed industrial rooftop system, thereby demonstrating our ability to scale Synergy to larger PV systems (e.g. utility-scale).
Data Acquisition Insights
Consumer awareness of own energy consumption is limited to monthly utility bills with little to no knowledge of daily consumption patterns. The PowerPods and smart meters installed are able to provide awareness of daily consumption patterns.
Consumers are accustomed to having contractors come to their homes to install electrical devices (e.g. cable television boxes, broadband endpoints) but coordination is labour-intensive. ELECTRIFY will outsource this subcontractor for large-scale deployment with clear scope-of-works, verifiable checklists, and performance standards.
The PowerPods communicate to ELECTRIFY's back-end database through WiFi or 3G. 3G communications are reliable but expensive. Wifi communications tap on the site’s local wireless network and incur little cost. However, administration of the wifi network is by the homeowner so ELECTRIFY has no control over network uptime, security settings, and network changes (e.g. changing of router, reconfiguring password). There were also some users who had security concerns with granting us access to their home WiFi networks— for these users, we used 3G communications.
For the next phase, ELECTRIFY aims to conclude a partnership with a licensed retailer with access to half-hour meter data and use that data for Synergy.
As part of the Alpha, we have carried out back-end integration with the IT systems of a solar developer to demonstrate that we are able to accommodate larger PV systems. The PV system that we integrated with is a 1.6MW industrial rooftop solar PV system.
We have scoped the back-end integration requirements for the sleeving retailer.
Web Platform Insights
The current platform is able to allow P2P trading across the main grid in Singapore by using CFDs with the wholesale electricity price as a reference.
We successfully simulated P2P trades between our consumers and prosumers using our basic matching engine (BME) with a simulated sleeving retailer.
Usability Testing Insights
We sat down with a selected group of our Alpha participants (consumers and prosumers) to obtain direct qualitative feedback and evaluate the ease of use of our platform. We conducted interviews with these users as well as asked them to complete certain tasks, observing them in the process. These tasks included: signing up for an account on the Alpha site, selecting and applying for an electricity plan, determining one’s energy consumption and/or production for a given period, and paying an outstanding bill. From these sessions, we were able to glean a wealth of data that provided insights into users’ preferences and motivations. We learnt that users appreciated the modern and clean design of the site and liked that it was easy to navigate. We are using these results to build an interface for Beta that is both uncomplicated and informative, ensuring that the site’s simplicity does not compromise on clarity for users.
Having met our success criteria, we consider the Alpha to be a success and will proceed with the next phase of development—the Beta. The key objectives of the Beta are:
Refine user experience of Synergy and deploy new features, incorporating insights from the Alpha.
Implement an advanced matching engine with real-time imbalance matching.
Develop data use case through ongoing collection and enhanced visualisation of real-time PowerPod data.
Execute commercial transactions by working with a licensed retailer and developing Synergy’s IT system to interface with existing meter data management requirements.
Onboard 50 participants (mix of consumers and prosumers).
In parallel to the Beta preparation in Singapore, Electrify will continue to conduct business development in the regional electricity markets including Malaysia and Japan. Our goal is to leverage the success of the Alpha in Singapore to launch similar proof of concepts in other markets together with local partners. Thank you for taking the time to read this special report, we hope it gives you a greater understanding of our project as well as more faith in the team. Get psyched, better/beta things are coming our way!
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