49-hour hackathon to solve the challenges of the 21th century

16 November 2020

From fossil-free cities and energy singularity to Conscious Cities and Sovereign Nature

49-hour hackathon to solve the challenges of the 21th century

E.ON has participated in one of Europe’s leading industry hackathons - Odyssey Momentum.

The 49-hour virtual collaboration event took place during the weekend of 13th to 15th November and saw various industries join forces online to help build solutions for the complex challenges of the 21th century.

The digital mass collaboration event gathered more than 2,000 participants working as part of 100 selected teams. Alongside E.ON, other utilities such as Engie and Vattenfall took part at Odyssey Momentum. The event showcased 13 challenges led by corporations, governments, and non-profit organisations from the US, France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. Each challenge had a global, societal and economic impact, tied directly to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

E.ON and Energy Singularity

Odyssey Hackathon - Group Image

E.ON took part in the Energy Singularity Challenge with various innovation teams. The event was led by Engie and green energy startup Grid Singularity. It was supported by distribution network operators such as Stedin, Enpuls and Alliander.

The term ”singularity” refers to everything converging into one. During the event, this idea has been applied to the energy sector in the sense that everyone in the future will become an active participant in the energy world.

The concept that machines could trade surplus energy on behalf of their owners in the future, for example, is one way of demonstrating the energy singularity model. But there is also another side to this idea. On the technology side, machines in the cloud could enable energy commodities to be traded without the intervention of a central authority. Energy singularity concept could have numerous benefits for the customers. For example, digitising commodity trading could give customers more control over their data and the prices that they pay for energy, and thus also drive a more sustainable future.

In this future scenario, a producer becomes a trader and trading will become autonomous. For utilities, this is an exciting prospect as it allows them to develop a clear picture of energy trading and grid management.

Stream 1: Technical deployment of local, peer-to-peer energy trading

Luis Hernandez, Head of Energy Communities and Networks at E.ON Innovation
Kerstin Eichmann, VP Partnerships and Acceleration at E.ON Innovation

During the hackathon the Energy Singularity challenge was split into two “streams”. Stream 1 explored the technical deployment of peer-to-peer energy markets, while stream 2 challenged teams to create user apps that would engage individual prosumers to optimise and rethink their relationship with energy and how they want to deal with this exciting product in future. The creativity in both of the challenges was very high.

The first stream of the Energy Singularity Challenge focused on creating AI-based trading strategies to reduce transmissions peaks in the grid and minimise fees for the community, market-maker prices and grid fees.

For the simulation, all startups used the open-source framework of Grid Singularity. This framework is based on the company’s D3A software, which simulates and operates transactive local energy exchanges. It connects grid operators and aggregators to allow them to interact better through an application interface, enabling them to participate with markets on more flexible tariffs or without the usual market barriers.

Startup Rebase won the first stream of the challenge as they had the best and most accurate forecasting and optimisation models. The startup also had the smartest trading agent, which proved most promising in relation to how energy markets will change and evolve in the coming years.

Stream 2: Rethinking relationships with energy

For the second stream, the two winning teams were Streaming Potential and rvolt. Streaming Potential chose artists and people interested in trading energy for art as a target group. In a bid to earn larger engagement through per-to-peer trading, the team proposed an app where a prosumer could provide an artist with energy, and thus buy their art pieces with the surplus.

The second winner, rvolt, designed an app that enables energy communities to reduce their CO2 footprint through crowd-funding and a gamification. The company owns a mobile app which provides transparency on energy consumption and carbon footprint. This engages energy users by incentivising them to increase their efficiency and provides added value based on their consumption patterns. Savings from trading surplus energy could then be used to invest in renewables.

The winners of the Energy Singularity Challenge were selected by a top-notch jury, who evaluated the quality of their technical solutions and the potential of future implementation.

“It was inspiring to see how many ideas are already underway for the future of our energy industry – a future that will be driven by energy communities. I’m looking forward to seeing the evolution of this approach from Grid Singularity”, says Luis Hernandez, Head of Energy Communities and Networks at E.ON Innovation.

“The Odyssey event was better than every Netflix movie,” added Kerstin Eichmann, VP Partnerships and Acceleration at E.ON Innovation. “The three-day hackathon was inspiring and energising. I got a lot of new concrete ideas how the future of energy might look like.”

As the connections between startups and energy companies have now been made, all partners will continue to work on their solutions within the upcoming weeks.

To learn more about the winning solutions, visit solutions.odyssey.org. For a technical deep dive, check this article about the Odyssey event by Grid Singularity.

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