Energy data outfit TGS’ cash splash boots up new-model renewables AI start-up Nash
Norway-headquartered energy industry data and analytics specialist TGS has made its first venture investment in a renewables start-up, acquiring a 10% interest in software-as-a-service (SaaS) outfit Nash.
The equity stake clears the way for Nash – launched earlier this year by former Siemens Gamesa chief digital officer Daniel Luecht and two colleagues, Christoph Lauenstein and Malte Zuch – to roll out a first of its so-called “scouting” solutions, an artificial intelligence (AI) programme that allows asset developers to approach projects based on electricity market-responsive production rather than total annual output.
“We need to explore disruptive technologies and business models, and to learn from the most innovative entrepreneurs. We now have a partnership with a team developing SaaS solutions that could revolutionise how wind energy projects are planned, built and operated,” said Jan Schoolmeesters, EVP for digital energy solutions at TGS, as the investment was announced.
Desktop modelling by Nash using its AI software – which mashes everything from data-feeds on weather and energy markets, right down to individual component fatigue loads – points to the potential of wind farms seeing yearly revenues increases in the double-digits – while annual energy production (AEP) from these projects in fact came in lower than in the past.
“This is fundamentally about optimising [a project for] hourly value instead of [for] annual production volume,” said Luecht, speaking to Recharge. “But it also about bridging between the asset developers and the power market traders to actually capitalise on the intermittency of the resource and the volatility of the market. It’s about connecting people to the ‘other side’ of the story.”
Based on a set of AI-modelled project case studies that factored in a range of “predictive” datastreams, Nash reckons “a far better way” of planning where to build clean energy plants, how to design them, and “when exactly” to flow power to the grid would be one aligned to minute-by-minute data points “deeply integrating asset technology configuration and electricity in the market optimisation and in your decision-making process”.
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A pilot study carried out on a unnamed 100MW Scottish onshore wind farm using the Nash software – which will be launched as a free tool to start later this summer – concluded aligning production levels to times of highest electricity market demand could create 21% higher revenue despite 12% lower AEP.
“As markets become more volatile as we are seeing now in Europe it is evermore important to build flexible wind farms,” says Lauenstein. “That’s where the value lies. And in the fact that because you are operating [a wind farm], say, 72% of the time, you have 28% of the time to do planned maintenance without shutting down, as it were.”
Globally, the ratio appears to bear out, he adds, noting an average of 30% less uptime, 10% lower AEP and 20% higher revenue from various wind farms modelled around the world.
“Of course there is even more to be gained from seeing how wind and solar farms match together – hybridise,” says Luecht. “And then what if we take the energy traders KPIs [key performance indicators] into our asset development thinking, rather than the old metrics we have always used?
“It would allow developers trading department to connect that asset more flexibility to price and market fluctuations moving forward. That would be quite a turning point.”
As part of the buy-in, TGS – which is the sole external investor holding a significant equity stake in Nash – can increase its share to 20% based on certain key “business milestones” being met. TGS New Energy Solutions’ WindAxiom offshore wind resource risk profiling software is expected to expand its cross-platform functionalities with support from Nash.