IPL, an IT services company specialising in business critical IT solutions and consultancy, has announced the launch of a scalable smart grid software platform that utility companies and local energy markets can deploy to manage trading between individuals and organisations who want to generate renewable energy and sell it to the wider network.

IPL’s software platform, SmartMarket, coordinates assets on the power network, sharing information about precise levels of supply and demand and creating a unified view of what is currently a fragmented infrastructure. SmartMarket allows consumers’ assets to communicate with potential suppliers – either local prosumers (those who both produce and consume energy) or commercial generators – and broadcast their immediate requirements. These suppliers may then, depending on their own conditions and constraints, satisfy the request, providing energy that, by virtue of its renewable source, is inherently greener than standard supply.

Emma Goodwin, divisional director Telecoms and Utilities, IPL, commented, “Renewable, green energy sources challenge the grid. By using a smart grid platform such as SmartMarket, along with energy storage, local energy markets are able to cooperate and intelligently manage supply, to make use of local energy locally, and coordinate energy storage to smooth demand.”

The key benefits of the SmartMarket software platform and managing the integration of locally generated energy are:

• The over supply – and wastage – of locally generated energy can be countered by directing excess energy to storage facilities such as battery banks. This stored energy can then be sold back to the grid at peak times, levelling peaks of demand, improving efficiency and reducing waste.

• SmartMarket and its fluctuating energy rates will naturally encourage consumption of energy at times of abundant supply and cheapest cost. This makes the most of renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind, as consumers will match consumption habits to supply. This is DSM (Demand Side Management) in its purest form – consumers behaving according to market incentives.

• Storage of excess energy protects local infrastructure from going over capacity, safeguarding security of supply and providing network latency and back-up. Information Security is paramount when dealing with national infrastructure such as this, and SmartMarket has been developed in line with IPL’s ISO 27001 certified Information Security Management System. It uses industry best practice techniques, including full authentication, authorisation, encryption, firewalling and other measures.

Goodwin concluded, “We are anticipating that technical infrastructures such as this will inspire greater confidence in the development of local energy markets, which will in-turn deliver dramatic financial and ecological benefits to the UK. By coordinating the integration of micro-energy generation and storage with the wider network, regulating the underlying financial models and also providing a mechanism for levelling out daily peaks and troughs, we are able to create local energy markets – and therefore achieve a reduction of reliance on fossil fuels and achieve a sustainable, greener energy future.”