Alpiq generates added value with digital technology
Alpiq has developed a new “Energy Artificial Intelligence” platform. By networking data, for example from power plants, consumers, energy markets or weather information, this platform creates added value for customers and partners within the energy ecosystem. The optimal decisions are calculated and the control signals are transmitted to power plants almost in real time, in order to continuously maximise the economic benefits for all the participants in the energy added value chain. According to the “measure – think – act” routine, the artificial brain implements the optimal operation for each customer and every facility. And it does this without impacting the core processes, the security of supply or any other desired boundary factors.
Energy markets are increasingly becoming faster, more complex and more networked. The effects of the energy transition in Europe, for example, include decarbonisation, penetration of new renewable energies, decentralisation, withdrawal from nuclear energy, photovoltaic systems and batteries and e-mobility. Hence, it is becoming increasingly important to comprehensively integrate all the available participants into the energy added value chain. This enables the synergies of all the centralised and decentralised facilities to be used to achieve the optimal economic added value – both for the owners of the individual facilities and from the point of view of the economy as a whole. This requires digital technologies and expertise. And this is precisely what Alpiq offers with its “Energy Artificial Intelligence” platform.
Since the end of 2016, Alpiq’s “Energy Artificial Intelligence” platform has been controlling two sewage gas unit heating power stations at the Werdhölzli wastewater treatment plant in Zurich and has already achieved considerable savings of grid usage costs. In a complex interplay of factors ranging from rainfall to toilet usage patterns over the day, sudden increases of the concentration and amount of wastewater at the treatment plant increase the plant’s demand for electricity. This results in grid demand peaks, which incur considerable costs. Alpiq’s platform evaluates real-time data, in order to predict and avoid such demand peaks. When a peak has been forecast, the 1.8 MW sewage gas unit heating power stations are fired up, in order to absorb the demand peak. This generates an added value for these decentralised renewable energy generation facilities by significantly reducing the wastewater treatment plant’s energy costs, without impacting the core business and while maintaining maximum security against external tampering. Indirectly, by avoiding peak loads, this also creates an added value for the local distribution grid.
The plant operator is also optimally prepared for the future: For example, if the grid usage or the energy markets start providing dynamic incentives, the optimisation algorithm in the cloud can simply be adapted “with a click of the mouse”.
Alpiq’s application of digital technology received the “Good Practice Award” from the “Renewable Grid Initiative” for exemplary innovation and future orientation.