8 minute read

Innovative by design: giving customers the tech to drive the energy transition

AGL and OVO join forces to bring Kaluza to Australia.

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John Chambers
20 May 2021

The energy system continues to evolve rapidly through digitisation, decarbonisation, and decentralisation. At the same time, our customers are seeking better value and convenience, more sustainable services, and seamless customer service.

That is why we are transforming from Australia’s largest energy retailer to the largest energy multi-product retailer – pursuing new growth opportunities beyond core energy, and expanding into developing markets such as batteries, storage, and electric vehicles (EVs), as well as non-energy industries such as telecommunications.

To achieve our vision, we need modern technology that equips our people to better serve our customers and gives our customers greater control over their essential services and ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Putting our customers at the heart of the energy transition

Australia has one of the highest levels of rooftop solar generation in the world, and we are rolling out home batteries at pace, with the installation of home energy systems growing by 20% in 2020 alone1. Although it is taking longer for EVs to gain momentum in Australia compared with places like Europe, when they do, EVs powered by renewable energy will reduce the carbon emission of road transport and have the potential to join home solar and battery systems in playing a role as a flexible energy resource feeding the grid.

But cars have a more important job: they get our customers from A to B, whenever they need to go. And this highlights the balance we need to strike as we work towards a low carbon, decentralised energy system. As orchestrators, companies like AGL will have to ensure that when we manage our customers’ air conditioners, appliances or EVs as power sources, we meet their other needs such as being able to use their car when they need it.

By getting the balance right and gaining trust, we earn the right to innovate alongside our customers to realise the full and mutual value of these distributed energy resources.

Technology as the enabler

To support this transition, we need superior technology that helps us deliver essential services to our customers, gives them greater control over their energy costs and carbon footprint, and can integrate new services (like smart EV charging management and tariffs) as they become available. Our solution needs to keep pace with rapid advancements in technology and be flexible enough to grow and evolve as we do.

So, we are always looking for options, which allow us to confidently commit to our core technology today, while providing lower risk alternatives for the future. That is one of the reasons we’re joining forces with OVO Energy, the UK’s largest independent energy retailer, and a global leader in net zero carbon living. Together, we will bring OVO’s innovative energy technology platform, Kaluza, to Australia.

Better together: joining a global coalition to accelerate the energy transition

By partnering with OVO and Kaluza, AGL gains an ally in the energy transition. But there is a further upside: Kaluza is building a platform with likeminded utility companies spread across the globe. Some of these companies, including AGL as a founding member, will join the Kaluza Product Council. Together, we will learn and leverage experiences in deploying Kaluza in different jurisdictions, to develop the platform in a rapidly changing, increasingly decarbonised and decentralised energy system.

Kaluza is a cloud native platform, with a highly modular, extensible, and scalable technology architecture. This gives AGL optionality, to select the capabilities we need today, and to easily build and extend upon these, to meet any new challenges and opportunities the future may hold. The team behind it embraces advanced engineering, and architectural approaches to software design.

Kaluza’s architecture centres around a single unified data and event stream, allowing consistent and real-time insights for customers, real-time data for reporting, process automation through artificial intelligence decision-making, and machine learning modelling.

The platform includes market-leading ‘flexibility’ technology, which monitors and controls hardware, such as batteries, EVs chargers, heating and cooling systems, to create a virtual power plant.

OVO uses this platform to conduct one of the world’s largest electric vehicle-to-grid (V2G) trials, involving hundreds of homes across the UK. Kaluza intelligently manages the charging of V2G chargers so that the connected cars import energy during times of low demand, when energy prices and carbon levels are low on the energy system. The platform is also able to orchestrate the V2G devices to feed energy back to the grid when demand increases, helping to balance the energy system while earning customers money. In fact, the programme has already shown that customers can save as much as £800 per year2.

Kaluza’s powerful data engine is at the core of all of its capabilities, from customer experience and billing, to flexibility services. It’s this unique event-based backbone that enables Kaluza to deliver market-leading, truly real-time experiences for customers, turning them into active participants of the energy transition.

Bringing the future forward

Through our investment in OVO Australia, we will work with OVO and Kaluza to ‘localise’ the platform for the Australian market. This includes integrating the platform with market data and market technology, ensuring the customer experience and business processes are compliant with Australian laws and regulations, and that it meets the expectations of Australian customers.

OVO Australia has a growing customer base, which will be transferred onto the Kaluza technology platform once it has been localised. Those customers will be the first in Australia to experience the benefits of Kaluza and will be instrumental in shaping how the technology evolves in this market.

We are excited to see what the future holds, and to be working with OVO and Kaluza to bring that future forward.

AGL Next - our home of innovation

Our joint venture with OVO Australia is part of AGL Next, where our teams, industry partners and customers can collaborate, test ideas and invest in new solutions to improve how we live and work.

Learn more about AGL Next here.

1 https://www.sunwiz.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/SunWiz-Australian-Battery-Market-2021-Purchasers_Redacted.pdf

2 https://ovo.com/biggest-ever-mobilization-of-uk-customers-supported-the-grid-during-expected-supply-crunch/