Frédéric Gastaldo, CEO
In the wake of the Fukushima reactor disaster in 2011, energy councils worldwide embarked on a mission to find alternate, cleaner, and safer sources of energy. One of the leaders in this endeavour was the Federal Council and Parliament of Switzerland that started working on a progressive withdrawal from nuclear energy production. The Energy Strategy 2050 plan was brought forth, requiring power plants—whose nuclear energy contributed to almost half of the power generation in the nation—to abstain from nuclear power generation by 2050 completely. Without nuclear energy, power providers will have to formulate a plan which allows consumers to access hydel and other renewable energy sources comfortably. And so, Swisscom—a leading, government-owned telco—realised that this could be made possible by using Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) that relieve the load on the grid, thereby smartly distributing the power generated by the individual units during periods of peak load. The organisation took on the mission of developing technology that aggregates small power loads, and founded tiko Energy Solutions in 2012. And in 2019, ENGIE took control over tiko and has guided its International expansion. With a team of veterans from the IT and cybersecurity spaces, tiko provides energy management solutions that can be fully customised to fit clients’ requirements while being compliant cyber security regulations.
VPP and EMS under One Roof
The company’s IoT platform enables electrical devices— such as heating and water-heating systems, photovoltaic (PV) plants, batteries, or charging stations for electric vehicles—to be grouped in a virtual power plant, in order to guarantee the stability of the regional and national power network. tiko’s solution suite allows consumers to integrate power generation assets—as well as existing residential small loads—into the VPP while offering with them the same functionalities of a physical power plant. “Alongside VPP functionalities, we also prioritise Energy Management Services (EMS) to help the consumer to manage and visualise their energy savings,” says Frédéric Gastaldo, CEO of tiko Energy Solutions. Utilising state-of-the-art algorithms, the monitoring tools in tiko’s EMS ensures that clients can measure the quality of service experienced by their customers, enables proactive communication, increases savings, and lets them report any ongoing issue to provide an early fix. The tools are also white-labelled to add value to the customers’ brands. The rise of VPPs can pose several unprecedented security challenges to the electricity grid if not managed effectively. Since bringing in cybersecurity technology as a separate entity after installing VPPs and EMS systems can be an expensive exercise, tiko’s solution set is built with integrated highend encryption security protocols.
Self-Consumption: The Future of Energy Supply
With rooftop PV power generation gaining traction worldwide, tiko aims to improve the self-consumption ratio to 70 per cent, such that clients need only use minimal energy from the grid. This gives leeway for electricity from the grid to be used for more power-intensive purposes, while the users themselves can manage smaller, more commonly-used loads.
Alongside VPP functionalities, we also prioritise Energy Management Services (EMS) to help the consumer visualise their energy savings
The partnership between tiko Energy Solutions and EVN, one of the largest energy retailers in Austria, highlights how tiko’s solutions can improve self-consumption rates. EVN has rebranded tiko’s white labeled solution as "joulie.at", providing users with a system that ensures maximum consumption of self-produced energy, while excess energy can be stored or sold to new users.
To encourage energy savings, tiko provides room temperature programming in its VPPs that works with direct and electrical heating appliances to create a temperature curve for every connected room. “Users can then adjust their power consumption based on the curve and save up to 20 percent on their energy bills,” adds Gastaldo.
The company’s on-premise, peak shaving solutions, on the other hand, are especially useful in an era where the consumer base has shifted to adopting electric vehicles. They need a solution that can prevent contention in power usage between the car and other appliances at home. tiko’s technology ensures that a balance in electrical load is maintained over all devices, and facilitates the necessary amount of power production to accommodate peak loads. While there may exist organisations that provide each of these solutions, tiko’s strength lies in provisioning all three functionalities together under its VPP platform.
A Green Planet with Tighter Communities
tiko’s focus on optimising self-consumption is set to evolve into a plan that creates tightly-knit communities that share power rather than consume it from the main network. Consider a case where a user needs energy for their home appliances, while their neighbour has an overflow of PV power production. With tiko’s microgrid concept, users can share their power supply with the community, and hence, reduce load and dependence on power stations.
“All our solutions are engineered to ultimately lower the carbon footprint of appliances,” states Gastaldo. The ability of the company’s solutions to retrofit into existing installations and products is a testament to tiko’s vision of a greener planet. Old appliances that were designed in an era before the internet are not compatible with most of the available VPPs. This leads to them being disposed of when transitioning to newer, IoT-integrated equipment. With tiko’s solutions offering clients the capability to connect even older generations of products to a VPP, they not only save up on expense but also cut down on unnecessary waste generation.