Power is crucial for driving economic growth of any country, especially emerging markets.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant effects on the power sector, particularly by leading to financial stress, reduction of demand, and disruptions to the power supply chain. Despite these challenges, there are still a few names which are leading the energy sector and providing exceptional experiences to their customers. One such name is tiko Energy Solutions which is leading the energy revolution and delivering the power of a Virtual Power Plant (VPP). The company designed an award-winning Smart Home Energy Management system to connect Residential and SME assets. It is also one of the world’s major real-time Smart Grids with its active VPP deployments.
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Insights Success and tiko Energy Solutions AG CEO Frédéric Gastaldo:
What led to the inception of tiko Energy Solutions AG?
tiko Energy Solutions was founded in 2012 following the Fukushima accident. Indeed, Swisscom, one of today’s investors and employer of tiko’s co-founders at the time, was asked to contribute to the energy turnaround in Switzerland with the goal of getting 100% of our energy from renewable sources, preventing more such nuclear accidents. There was an understanding that the disruption in the energy industry would lead to a change from a centralized supply to a decentralized world with distributed energy resources. These resources had to be managed and integrated into balancing between energy supply and demand. This was tiko’s starting point.
We created a solution that is able to connect existing residential devices such as heat-pumps, batteries, electric car charging stations, and direct heating systems, independent of their age and brand, because we believe that the change we need in the way we consume energy needs to come from the people – and luckily most of us already have what we need at home. Too much energy means some devices connected to the tiko platform will start working a bit earlier than their normal cycle – too little, a bit later. Climate change is, and will continue to be, a personal topic that affects all of us, not just an strategic decision for industrial players to worry about. With this in mind, we ALL (not only the owners of smart devices) need to be given the means to enable change now. It’s our vision, and it’s our claim: Together we’re stronger.
Describe your company and its energy solutions which address all the needs of your customers. How does your energy solution differ from others?
tiko offers a unique Home Energy Management System- (HEMS) coupled to a VPP. The HEMS is unique because it’s holistic, allowing us to control and optimize a vast array of devices – from heat pumps to e-car chargers, PV systems, decentralized heaters, or residential batteries – and is expandable as clients can connect new devices as they acquire them. It also allows retrofits, enabling customers with old devices to enjoy state of the art functionalities.
Finally, it’s highly affordable, especially coupled to our VPP: by agreeing to participate to the VPP, end-customers contribute to stabilize grids and thus promote the integration of renewables in our energy supply, but they also benefit from a very affordable HEMS as the VPP revenue enables clients to create innovative business cases. Everybody wins – which we believe to be the key to commercial success and thus higher adoption rates. High adoption rates mean more people controlling the way they consume energy, which in turn will have an impact on the climate. Millions of people better monitoring their consumption, and saving energy would have a massive impact.
Our Virtual Power Plants themselves are really disruptive because the concept itself swaps bottom up the dependencies between the power plants and the users. Users normally fully depend on traditional power plants but VPP’s are increasingly depending on users. Considering the increase in renewables market share, this swapping is accelerating and will do even more.
Self-consumption optimization can also provide massive benefits. Instead of sending energy back and forth (PV overproducing and sending to the grid in the day, then house taking from the grid in the night) local self-consumption optimization can lower the required power plants size and reduce user’ costs.
How are advanced technologies bringing disruption in energy industry?
New technologies based on software and data science allow companies to manage end customer relationships in a unprecedent way: that is an opportunity for new entrants in the markets. They will be able to outpace incumbents, focus on high net worth consumers and establish high quality customer relationships resulting in higher net promoting scores. Today, well-known applications are virtual power plants, solar self-consumption optimization and power management for loads in a decentralized and incremental way. Consumers will become independent.
What are the greatest challenges the energy industry facing and how are they best dealt with?
Since the idea of vertical monopolies and central control and command is outdated, the new world is more complex and requires other competences from companies. Competences in software, partnering, and M&A are becoming increasingly strategic. The pace is increasing and the customers expect services according to the promises made by politicians and regulators.
What technologies are you leveraging to make your solutions more resourceful?
Infrastructure as as service (virtualization, digitization), systems as a service and data science are significant technologies to stay at the competitive edge.
What are your company’s future aspirations? What strategies are you undertaking to achieve those goals?
We are planning to further expand geographically and to target new segments. The more devices we connect to our solution, the bigger our impact on the climate change. The current pandemic crisis shows us that the sense of community, the need to do something good together, and the need for more control and transparency are all growing. We are developing the right solution by answering this need.
We believe it is important that we take this opportunity to build up communities that can better connect our societies, making them more resilient and inclusive. Finding new ways to accelerate the energy transition is quickly becoming one of the most important tasks we face as a society; it’s only fitting that one of the most promising solutions will see us once again coming together and embracing the idea of community.
About the Leader
After a successful career in the manufacturing, consulting and telco industries, Frédéric Gastaldo, tiko’s CEO and co-founder, shaped tiko’s vision around his own personal belief that we can give our planet a chance if we collectively change the way we consume energy. It’s his deep conviction that we don’t have much time to make this happen as our planet needs us, and this change needs to come from the people – and already is. “As global warming hits the planet in a matter of a couple human generations, we have an incredibly short period of time for the entire system to adjust and avoid dramatic consequences. At tiko we are committed to deliver technologies which enable the energy transition here and now; As opposed to too little too late.”
“The unique technology developed by tiko will enable us to create new services for our residential customers and move towards the building of decentralized energy communities. It effectively completes our portfolios of load-balancing and storage solutions, which are so crucial to the achievement of the energy transition.” Yves Le Gélard Chief Digital Officer, ENGIE Group
“With tiko, we offer our customers a solution for optimizing their photovoltaic self-consumption and can use household loads for virtual power plant applications. An example: with the tiko solution, we have successfully implemented a project for the central control of e-charging stations in a typical lowvoltage network.” Christian Lechner, Project Management, EVN