Emergent is the company behind a smart network operating platform that will revolutionise how electricity is distributed, bought, consumed and traded globally. We are creating a new technology ‘backbone’ for electricity grids that will stimulate innovation and change how we think about and use electricity.
The opportunity is considerable. Every electricity grid has huge untapped financial and technological potential as a platform for innovation and new service delivery. They are essentially large communication systems, capable of connecting multiple generators with a vast network of consumers.
Today, most of these grids are under-used and are operating primarily as a one-way delivery system rather than a multi-lane highway where distributors, consumers, and alternative power generators can benefit from a free-flow of information, backwards and forwards.
In the future, enabled by our platform, an electricity grid will act as a communications network and marketplace, as well as a distributor of power to consumers, and will allow multiple users and technologies to interact seamlessly and in real time.
Ultimately this will make buying and using electricity easier, cheaper and more reliable than it is today – for everyone.
The way we distribute the bulk of our electricity, through a large hub and spoke grid, has remained largely unchanged for over a hundred years. While this served the world well in the past, it is no longer fit for purpose in the 21st century.
At Emergent we are creating the same capability for the electricity grid that underpinned the growth of the internet, namely a common information sharing protocol that developers used as the basis for innovation through a combination of smart software with new power flow management technology.
The core function of an electricity grid – the physical distribution of power to businesses and people – will not change. Reliability and security of supply will remain a priority. But the real opportunity lies in what else the grid will be able to do with the new platform in place.
New technology and societal demand for greener energy are already changing how electricity is generated and consumed at the margins of the grid- consider, for example, the recent growth in local community solar projects and technologies which allow people to remotely control smart devices in the home from mobile devices.
In future, prices for consumers will be kept down through greater competition, real time pricing and power flow management, and better grid utilisation. Regulations will evolve to enable new technologies to fulfil their potential, just as they have done so successfully in Telecommunications. Electricity security and supply guarantees will be greater, as energy is traded and made available through the mechanism of the market, and consumers will be able to buy and trade energy when prices are low and select the amount of electricity from renewable sources in real time.
And all will be made possible by the certainty and connectivity of a common platform – built by Emergent.
The Emergent Transactional Platform and The Faraday Grid
The Emergent Transactional Platform is a system of control that balances supply and demand across the entire energy system, using price as the key operational mechanism. It is built on an integration of software with patented Faraday Grid technology. This unique combination of hardware and software creates a system allowing any device or person, with the right technical support, to trade energy with other parties. The Emergent Transactional Platform:
- Is multi-functional and extremely agile, a platform designed to manage electricity generated from any location and from multiple different generation sources, and delivered to where it is needed
- Enables the network to cope with high and low demand periods by using pricing that alters in line with demand, similar to the way pricing works, for example, in foreign exchange, vehicle fuel, and grocery
- Minimizes the cost of energy by making the lowest cost energy available to consumers at all times, reducing transactional overheads and the need for other behavioural incentives
- Is integrated, autonomous & responsive – which means it is a complete system and does not have to rely on additional infrastructure or software to provide accounting or send messages between control points
- Is adaptive and self-contained – which means each device or person participating can act individually and is not reliant on a structured system
The Faraday Grid technology underpinning the platform allows greater amounts of renewable generation to be used by removing some of the most significant electrical constraints within the grid. The net effect of the Emergent Transactional platform is the delivery of reliable clean energy at the lowest possible price to consumers
How does the Emergent transactional network work?
The Emergent transactional network is an integrated software platform operating on patented Faraday Grid technology. It combines multiple Faraday Exchangers to improve power flow efficiency with the Emergent transactional layer facilitating energy exchanges at market based real time pricing.
- Every device or agent within the Emergent transactional platform will balance its individual account
- A fit for purpose, secured system allows transactions to be trusted between devices or agents, and be verified by other trusted devices or agents without the need to verify each transaction
- Transactions are inherently linked to the physics of the system taking into account generation and consumption type, quality and location
What are the benefits of a transactional network?
Benefits for Prosumers
The Emergent platform allows the electricity grid network to provide better service and a range of buying choices to people and organisations that have different energy needs, at the lowest energy cost.
Once deployed, the platform allows users to set the price they are willing to pay for electricity, and make choices about the type of energy they want.
For instance, a couple who go away on holiday for five weeks in winter may choose to pay a low price for electricity during that time because the risk of a break in supply is not such a concern; whereas a carer for an elderly person who requires ongoing medical monitoring may choose to pay a higher rate to ensure they have uninterrupted supply.
The Emergent platform can facilitate each of these transactions at very low cost to the consumer.
Benefits for DNOs and Utilities
The Emergent platform will provide significant benefit to DNOs and utilities, who are responsible for maintaining the network infrastructure.
Because the Emergent platform combines smart software with demand management technology that ‘smooths’ the flow of electricity from traditional and renewable sources, DNOs and retail electricity providers will see a more even flow of power across their networks while also knowing that consumers are buying, selling and planning future demand for electricity in real time.
Benefits for Retail Providers
Retail providers today have the ability to buy energy futures but have to give a fixed price to consumers to cover their risk. Their profitability depends on how well they manage the gap between the two.
In the Emergent platform system they can still do this, but with access to better information, having greater, real-time insight into what is physically happening within the electricity system.
The business model will likely see consumer contracting with retailers for ease, rather than directly engaging in the wholesale market for a lower fixed price than today, as the overheads and inefficiencies (costs) in the market have been reduced.
Benefits for the Economy
Globally we are paying inflated and ever increasing prices for electricity. This is both increasingly unsustainable – economically, environmentally, politically and socially – but is also completely unnecessary.
The current electricity generation and distribution system is hugely expensive to run and maintain, but is running well below its capacity and potential. New local initiatives and different types of generation, including from new nuclear and renewable sources, help at the margin but the biggest barrier to less costly power is that the grid distribution system is no longer fit for purpose.
However good the generation improvements, if the network continues to act as a bottleneck, we are simply layering in additional cost and, in some cases, unreliability onto a system that was designed in the 19th Century. Recent growth in smart grids have also helped, but are also limited by inefficiencies in the grid itself.
That’s why the Emergent platform is transformative technology and has benefits to the economy across the board. By facilitating a significant reduction in the cost of power, from the largest of global business and manufacturing down to the individual in their own home, multiple benefits will flow including greater prosperity, greater investment and competitiveness across the economy and our society.
Unlike the current electricity distribution system, the Emergent platform makes it easy for any user, large or small; to choose power from different generation sources at a price that suits their circumstances.
The immediate benefits to energy distributors will be considerable as new technology capital costs will be significantly lower than any alternative approach to solving our energy crisis, as less equipment is required to deliver better functionality. But the greater benefit will be in the knock on effect to the wider economy, as the cost of doing business drops and new services and technologies take advantage of the Emergent platform’s ability to free up the capability of the energy system.
Benefits for the networks itself
The Emergent platform design can be deployed without significant cost to taxpayers because it builds on a Faraday Grid enabled by Faraday Exchangers.
No additional layer of networking is needed over and above the current infrastructure. This also reduces the potential cost of maintenance typically required in any complex layering of systems, while still delivering a fully integrated network.
Faraday Exchangers – whose core purpose is to regulate and ‘smooth’ out the flow of electricity from multiple sources regardless of reliability of supply – are autonomous and not centrally controlled. This has important implications, not just for the cost of implementation, but also for security.
The Faraday Grid is a collection of autonomous Faraday Exchangers, which means that a cyber-attack, would only result in localised damage while the rest of the network continues to operate.
The combination of a Faraday Grid addressing short term volatility, with the Emergent network managing the problem of intermittence, means that variable energy sources like renewables can be distributed more effectively, reducing supply outages and putting energy resources to highest and best use 24 hours a day.