Interview with Ana Trbovich, Grid Singularity
Grid Singularity is engineering d3a.io, open source software that simulates and operates custom energy exchanges, creating local marketplaces. This is the company that conceptualized and co-founded the Energy Web Foundation (EWF) to support open source blockchain innovation globally and has been proclaimed the World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer.
Can you tell us a bit about the origins and aims of Grid Singularity?
Grid Singularity means and strives to an integrated energy system with individuals and the environment at its core.
What is the size of your current team, and how is it structured?
We have 11 core team members in Berlin, with full gender parity, and a number of “distributed” external collaborators. One person carries the full back office support load while everyone else is directly engaged in product development, involving research and engineering at the intersection of energy systems and computer science.
How does Grid Singularity help local energy communities to interconnect and support the grid? What is D3A? What are the advantages?
Grid Singularity’s D3A software creates local energy marketplaces, starting by creating a digital twin of the local grid to optimize the grid set-up through simulations, followed by deployment. The advantage of using such software is that it empowers the individual to take full control of their energy use, selecting the best supplier at ease. The best supplier, both from a financial and environmental perspective, is often a neighbor with a solar panel who has surplus production. Our research has shown that when local peer-to-peer trading is enabled, it leads to more efficient use of energy resources, reducing the cost of the electricity bill and increasing local self-sufficiency, as well as alleviating pressure on the wider grid.
What do you see as the biggest obstacles for the current energy marketplaces? How do they influence your plans?
In Europe, with the legislation adopted last year, energy communities are encouraged. We will now see how quickly markets will open up to this novel, bottom-up market design, and how different market responsibilities will be shared.
What kind of customers are using your services currently, and who do you see as future customers?
Grid Singularity’s D3A is developed using the open-source approach. The simulation tool is free (available at d3a.io) with regular updates that include new and enhanced features. Users are energy community managers, as well as researchers and innovators, coming from academic and business organizations, including both startups and system operators. We are now approaching the deployment stage and have initiated collaborations with energy communities as well as energy corporates.
Can you expand a bit more on the choices you have made regarding the technology and what benefits these choices provide to you and your customers?
The simulation is Python-based, and the final implementation will be in part on a blockchain to ensure transparency and automated clearance. The blockchain of choice is the Energy Web Chain, as the most performant for our industry. Grid Singularity is a proud co-founder of the Energy Web Foundation, and we espouse the principle of open source innovation and shared industry standards.
Do you see the current pandemic as more of a threat or possibility for a future transition towards sustainability and renewables?
The threat is that it may derail a regulatory focus and reduce innovation and sustainability development funding. The opportunity is that there may be more concerted action to support services that optimize the use of renewables and improve system efficiency.