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June 30, 2016
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Data is the fuel for Open Energi’s virtual power station with Hortonworks DataFlow

Earlier today, we announced that Open Energi has tripled its investment in data analytics by adding Hortonworks DataFlow to its existing use of Hortonworks Data Platform to manage its data in motion.

Open Energi is at the forefront of smart grids and the Internet of Things in the UK. Put simply, it allows its customers’ demand for electricity to adjust intelligently in response to changes in supply and demand UK-wide, increase efficiency, reducing emissions and cutting costs.

London-based Michael Bironneau, head of technical development at Open Energi, has previously described its service as an automated, virtual power station. It’s because whenever the electric grid experiences sudden, unforeseen surges in supply or demand, assets under the control of Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand algorithm automatically pick up the slack – just like a power station would but cheaper and cleaner.

I’ve spent time with the Open Energi team a handful of times over the past 2-3 months and what has struck me on each occasion is how committed the team is to creating a ‘sharing economy’ through its innovative approach. It’s about what is good for the National Grid, for Open Energi, for its customers (who publically include United Utilities, Sainsbury’s and Hanson) and for energy systems as a whole.

In the context of its Dynamic Demand algorithm, data is Open Energi’s greatest asset. It tells them when they’ll be able to turn a certain asset on or off without disrupting its primary function, which could be critical to an industrial process. It also allows Open Energi to prove to the National Grid that an asset it claims has participated in Dynamic Demand actually modified its power consumption to help balance the grid. You can view the video below to understand more about Open Energi’s use of Hortonworks Data Platform:

In addition to what you heard about in the video, Hortonworks DataFlow is increasing the speed at which information can be analysed as well as improving data quality management and enriching the data for Open Energi. It is solving many technical challenges for Open Energi such as when one component in the dataflow can’t keep up with the volumes of data it is receiving or how to prioritise which data to send at a given time. Even though Open Energi has bespoke systems to solve many of these issues, HDF goes further by querying data that lives on individual devices without them ever having to send the raw data back, effectively helping to get more out of the data without having to send it back to the database.

As a result of its investment in Hortonworks DataFlow, Open Energi is already:

• Reducing costs thanks to 10-15% less data being transmitted across a mobile network
• Creating a full transparent trail for data provenance that Open Energi can share with the National Grid and its customers
• Enabling line of business teams to contribute to building data flow rules and processes
• Standardising the output of data across various end point devices

Open Energi is a great example of how the ever growing rise of connected devices and the ability to unlock the data they generate is fuelling architectural and business transformation. I can’t wait to see how Open Energi’s approach of putting productivity and sustainability hand in hand will be at the heart of the new energy economy in the UK and beyond.

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