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Hosts store excess generation in exchange for low cost, 100% renewable electricity, which is supplied by one of Solo’s local energy supply partners.
Solo has created an energy trading economy that allows consumers to share renewable energy across the grid via a blockchain-based, peer-to-peer energy trading platform known as FlexiGrid. It centrally controls the batteries and chargers, enabling hosts to share excess local generation quickly and easily across the grid.
This digitally connected series of batteries and chargers – known as a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) – enables the flexible supply and demand of energy across the grid. This flexibility helps balance the intermittency of renewable energy generation and allows hosts to receive energy that is stored in the assets of other hosts when necessary, allowing Solo to shape demand to follow renewable supply.
By remotely controlling the hosted batteries and chargers, Solo can charge them from onsite solar and wind generation facilities, or from the grid when sufficient renewable generation is already present. When renewable generation decreases, the energy stored in hosts’ batteries or electric vehicles is used to supply homes and businesses instead, enabling the energy to be supplied cheaply.
In order for the energy to be stored and shared securely, Solo needed to find a control platform capable of remotely communicating with and controlling the batteries and chargers, as well as enabling vast amounts of data to be recorded and stored. The platform needed to allow Solo to control and remotely communicate with all its distributed assets both individually and as a collective unit, enabling energy to be shared between them quickly and efficiently.
It also needed to provide visualisation tools that would enable Solo to visualise and analyse all its energy data so that it could identify trends and improve performance of the VPP, and present this information back to its customers as a simple, user-friendly interface. In order to allow Solo’s software to grow along with the business, this software also needed to be fully scalable.
With data security of paramount importance, Solo also needed to find the most secure environment in which to host the control platform – one which required zero IT infrastructure in order to deliver a cost-effective option, and which could be set up quickly, deliver 24-hour monitoring and comprehensive customer support, and guarantee uptime.
In 2017, Solo contacted industrial IT solutions provider SolutionsPT for a recommendation. SolutionsPT identified Wonderware System Platform 2017 as the software most suitable for Solo’s needs.
Andrew Graham, SolutionsPT’s Wonderware Product Manager, said: “System Platform 2017 is an operating system for industrial applications – a responsive control solution for SCADA, manufacturing execution systems (MES) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). It provides configuration, deployment, security and data connectivity, bringing essential context to organisations’ data, assisting with diagnostics and troubleshooting, and providing valuable system documentation throughout the system lifecycle – everything Solo was looking for.
“It also includes the first ever fully responsive Operations Management Interface (OMI). This provides improved situational awareness and an intuitive experience through its modern user interface that enables users to bring together information from all relevant systems and give it real context, enabling them to understand current performance and accurately predict future behaviour.
“Additionally, System Platform also allows screen resolution-independent asset templates to be digitally modelled and shared on any device. This allows Solo to receive insights from its operations anywhere in the world and keep development and maintenance costs minimal. It also enables application scaling from a single node to hundreds of nodes without the need to redesign the entire application. Using drag and drop technology, assets can be easily deployed onto other machines, allowing users to scale up from a single box solution to multi-tier deployment and delivering a future-proof investment.”
As an organisation unrestricted by the safety or latency concerns that would make an on-premise solution necessary, Solo made the decision to host System Platform in a cloud environment. By doing so, it eliminated the need for additional IT infrastructure and delivered a fully scalable and easily deployable system that could be installed with minimal resource.
By embracing a cutting-edge control platform and hosting it in a cloud environment, Solo has:
• Completed a number of pilot projects which have enabled it to prove its business model in the UK and Ireland
• Moved from a testbed agreement to a commercial agreement with the Cork Internet Exchange by proving the viability of its business model, and
• Begun preparations for its commercial rollout
Daniel Dransfield, VP of Engineering at Solo, said: “We’re delighted with the new control platform, and glad that we took the decision to host it in a secure cloud environment. The wide range of solutions the platform offers has been invaluable as it’s essentially an ‘everything under one roof’ product. Had we opted for a different platform, we’d have needed to employ additional services from other third-party companies, which would have increased operating costs significantly.
“System Platform has also helped with the pilots we’ve been working on. For example, one in the Orkney Islands in Scotland – a new housing development of circa 30 houses – was required by building regulations to have renewable energy, however the network operator was unable to connect all the homes to the grid. We used FlexiGrid to get all the households connected by storing renewable generation from their solar panels in our FlexiGrid-controlled batteries and prevented any excess generation from being exported to the wider grid.
“We’re now in a position to begin rolling out our service commercially across the UK and Ireland and that’s not something that would have been possible without the new control platform.”
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