The topic of electromobility has become an integral part of current socio-political debates. Although the goal set by the German government in 2010 of having around one million electric cars on German roads by 2020 is far from being reached, the number of newly registered electric vehicles is rising steadily. What should always be borne in mind, is that if many e-cars are connected to the power grid for charging, this can lead to new charging peaks and in the worst case to a grid overload. Our startup of the week, Urban ENERGY, addresses this problem and is developing a cloud to optimize network utilization. In our interview with Managing Director Paul Dittrich, we learn more about their solution.
Hello, Paul! We’re glad you’re here today. We start directly with the first question: How would you present Urban ENERGY in one sentence?
urban ENERGY takes energy management to a new level with AI and optimises network utilisation!
And how exactly do you make the AI usable for these purposes? Feel also free to tell us something about your products and services in this context.
The urban ENERGY Cloud Platform is a modern solution for the integration of cost efficient and highly scalable Smart Grid Analytics in real-time. Data from existing charging stations or energy management solutions can be centrally integrated and reused within milliseconds. In addition to the platform provided as a service (PaaS) for the development of their own use cases, customers also benefit from the Data Analytics function for Smart Grids. The urban ENERGY Cloud platform, which can be operated on-premise, public (e.g. AWS, Azure) or hybrid, provides a highly modular all-in-one solution to operationalize Energy Intelligence in real time using predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics and machine learning.
This sounds very promising, especially with regard to the technologies used. In order to survive on the market in the long run, you still have to prevail against competing companies. Which unique selling proposition do you use to approach this competition?
Yes, there are already major players such as Siemens with heavyweight solutions or providers in certain niches such as charging station or classic energy management for buildings. urban ENERGY fills this gap and takes on the role of an energy broker for the integration of different applications with the aim of making a Smart City as energy- and cost-efficient as possible through artificial intelligence.
How do you integrate your cloud solution and the various services into one business model?
Even before urban ENERGY was founded, we held discussions with potential customer groups for over a year. During this time, we have optimized our business case and developed a license model that is optimal for the customer. A relevant profitability for the customer is already given from 5 charging stations. In addition to charging points, other use cases such as predictive maintenance or predictions of energy quantities are also possible. With adesso AG, a large IT company, and Phoenix Contact, a globally active electrical engineering group, we not only have two investors, but also strategic partners with an extensive sales network. We are currently conducting further talks in the energy and real estate industry.
And where is your target market located?
In addition to municipal utilities, projects are carried out in close cooperation with the relevant real estate companies. urban ENERGY is also becoming increasingly interesting for logistics and commercial companies that want to gradually electrify their vehicle fleets. Supplying several trucks or buses with electricity at the same time will be one of the great challenges of the future that urban ENERGY wants to take on. We are currently concentrating on the German-speaking region, as we are receiving more and more enquiries from public utilities and housing associations who see the challenges in the distribution network and are looking for appropriate solutions here.
Where do you stand at the moment with the development of Urban Energy? Is your cloud platform already usable?
Exactly, the actual IoT cloud platform is already in place. We are currently expanding this Energy Data Hub to include further use cases: e.g. the temporal shifting of loading processes, the prediction of energy quantities from renewable energies. We are therefore currently looking for the first projects to test the urban ENERGY platform and the first use cases. As part of a research project starting in December 2019, we are working over a period of three years together with the city, the municipal utilities and the TU Dortmund as well as the Fraunhofer Institute on a neighbourhood solution.