Sandra Trittin is the founder and head of business development of Swiss-based Tiko, which developed one of the world’s first “virtual power plants” using loads such as heating and hot water rather than batteries. It is now looking for opportunities in Australia.
Tiko’s approach is a ready answer to those who would claim that there is not enough “storage” and demand flexibility in Australia’s grid. It’s there, locked in the regular devices we use – air conditioners, heaters, water heaters, and pool pumps. It just needs to be harnessed.
And, of course, there is the extraordinary resource from Australia’s rooftop solar resources – at more than 7GW and rising quickly – and the expected sharp uptake in battery storage.
Ahead of her appearance at the upcoming All Energy conference in Melbourne, we talked with Trittin about Tiko’s plans for Australia.
Sandra, briefly tell us what Tiko is and wants to do.
Tiko is a technology platform which offers two major services in one. On one side it is providing a Virtual Power Plant for the energy industry, providing reliable and secure all kind of energy and grid services (e.g. wholesale arbitrage, local grid stabilization, frequency regulation) with any kind of connected electrical devices (e.g. water heater, aircon, batteries, charging stations, heat pumps, pool pumps, back up generators).
Today we have more than 100 MW integrated and within the next year the number of connections should rise up to 50’000 devices. The main countries of operations are Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria.
Each of the countries has different requirements for energy and grid services and with each of our partners we have built up a different and innovative business model.
“What opportunities do you see in Australia?
In Australia there is a huge number of existing decentralized assets like aircons, water heater, pool pumps etc. and at the same time new assets like solar, batteries and charging stations are picking up.
To manage the energy turnaround successfully it is not only about distributing new decentralized energy resources but also how to integrate them into the existing energy system successfully and efficiently. We see a huge opportunity for cloud-based platforms which are able to connect any kind of device, independent of the device supplier, and on the other side integrate successfully into existing energy systems.
For the adoption and integration of VPPs in the future, there are two challenges to be managed.
The first one is on the side of the VPP services, VPPs have be able to perform services as conventional power stations, switching easily from one to the other and being efficiently integrated into existing portfolios.
The second challenge is on the adoption rate of device owners. Where it is getting more and more common with commercial and industrial companies to join for example DR programs, on the residential side new business models have to be implemented to make VPPs attractive and economical efficient.
It is possible but it requires existing players in the energy market to think in new ways. It opens for them new opportunities to create revenue and differentiate on the market. If these two challenges are managed VPPs will play and important role in the demand/supply equation of the industry.
Sandra Trittin will be speaking at the All Energy conference on October 3 in a special session on virtual power plants.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, and is also the founder of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and founder/editor of www.TheDriven.io. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.