After energy generation and the storage of it, another interesting part of the energy system comes with its unique challenges and innovative solutions: the Grid. The synchronous grid of continental Europe is the largest in the whole world; meaning that there is a lot of potential. For example, the so-called “European super grid” is a possible future super grid that would connect various European countries with regions around the borders. Especially for renewable energy, this project would allow way more flexibility -as “it is always sunny or windy somewhere”. The combination of grid technology and renewable energy is a very interesting topic, as the expanding growth of the share of renewables calls for a new approach to grid management, especially as renewable energy is present centralized as well as decentralized. This is where the buzzword “smart grid” comes into the picture – smart grids can allow the integration of variable renewables, support decentralized production of energy, improve control over the grid as well as provide more flexibility. As always – startups lead the way into innovative technologies, which is why this article presents three European grid technology startups.
Heimdall Power – Increasing grid capacity
The first startup to be presented is Heimdall Power – the company is based in Norway and offers intelligent sensors, which are pooled in the so-called neurons. The neurons are to be installed on live wire and are able to digitize the power grid through data collection. The sensors detect and collect power flow, line inclination and vibration as well as snow load and wire temperature. Once this data is collected, the data is fed to the “Heimdall Brain”, the cloud and software solution. This offers not only an increased line capacity through dynamic line rating or thermal management, Heimdall states that between 25%-50% more capacity can be achieved, but also locates broken lines or offers diagnostics for maintenance planning.
Laki Power – Minimizing monitoring costs
Laki Power is a startup based in Reykjavik, Iceland. Laki Power offers monitoring stations which provide live surveillance through a high-resolution 360° camera with night vision, a thermal camera, tilt sensors and weather stations among others. Through these services the startup can monitor risks or threats or capture improvement potential for the grid performance. Regarding the integration of renewables into the grid, Laki offers accurate forecasts, leading to improvement of grid capacity as well as improvement of the resilience of integration and operation of distributed renewable energy resources and storage systems. The catch with the startup, which was founded in 2015, is that Laki Power minimizes the costs of installing, maintaining or resupplying which other monitoring devices come with. The startups patented technology “PowerGRAB” is able to harvest high voltage powerline current as a usable low-voltage DC output, with up to one hundred times more power than other solutions.
Envelio – Platform for Transparency
Envelio is a German-based startup providing an Intelligent Grid Plattform. The modular software assistance system not only supports the digitalisation and automatisation of grid planning, but also of grid operating. The startup has sorted their services into three steps: Data Quality, Planning and Operation. The first step, the data basis is achieved through their applications which connect previously isolated data systems. With this date connection, Envelio is able to develop digital twins which can be used to process and evaluate the given data. The second step, the grid planning, is the key step for renewables integration. Through the achieved automation, the mass integration of mainly distributed energy resources done. The last step, the operation of the grids, Envelio offers continuing transparency about the current grid state, ensuring reliability of power supply.
Image Source: Unsplash, 09.05.2021