Since 2013, Enervalis has been working on an operating system design for the energy network of the future. The InnoEnergy start-up creates software to resolve the mismatch between supply and demand in a green energy system – thanks to a better match, opportunities to allow for reduced, other or cheaper energy use have arisen. And, they have the wind in their sails: they are currently cooperating with top players such as ABB Benelux and BAM.
The integration of an increasing amount of renewable, decentrally generated energy is posing serious challenges to the current electricity network. These will only multiply if Europe perseveres in its ambition to achieve a low-carbon economy by 2050. In particular, the mismatch between supply and demand in a green energy system remains a challenge. Stefan Lodeweyckx, CEO of Enervalis, wishes to contribute to the solution to that problem and expects software to achieve more than batteries will.
The SmartPowerSuite® software as a service (SAAS) & hardware solutions of Enervalis offer electricity producers, distributors and consumers the possibility to automatically optimise their energy supply, storage and demand. In that way they can avoid costs or make a profit by smartly responding to the (un) availability of renewable energy. The SmartPowerSuite® operating system has three fields of application: smart electric vehicles, smart buildings and smart microgrids.
Stefan Lodeweyckx explains: “I experimented with ways to apply game consoles as an energy gateway in home situations. I saw economic potential in complex energy services at a residential level,
and wanted to continue working on this independently. That is how Enervalis got started. An operating system that is able to monitor, predict and manage can allow you to achieve a lot: you can use your knowledge to trade on the energy market, you can help solve grid capacity problems, or you can stimulate local use.”
More than just a nice flemish SME
When Stefan Lodeweyckx started Enervalis in February 2013, he had no more than a mission statement and some software.
“After two months we were already included in the KIC InnoEnergy Highway® programme and that helped, not in the least for our credibility. In the beginning we worked mainly on a project basis, enabling us to build the software we had in mind with each
“We also had the typical struggle for life that start-ups have, but during tough times we always felt the support from InnoEnergy, which is something you really can’t put a price tag on. In 2014 we received support for two innovative projects at KIC InnoEnergy, which again brought about more visibility and interesting contacts.
“Meanwhile, we have nine full-time employees, an office on the GreenVille Campus of LRM and in June 2015, we gained funding from H2020 for an important European project with BAM as a partner. Now that the ball is rolling, it’s hard to keep up. But we still have a long way to go. Enervalis does not want to be just another nice Flemish SME – we want to have a global impact and are going to set up an investment round. This international outlook is something I inherited from my professional career before Enervalis. I have always travelled a lot, looking beyond the village horizon.”
In 2015, Enervalis got two especially good collaborations going. On the one hand the start-up joined forces with ABB Benelux to create the network infrastructure and supporting software for on-site smart
grid solutions. The first solution is expected at the beginning of 2016 and will be used in so-called ‘zero energy’ residential districts in Benelux.
On the other hand, a consortium of nine partners from five European countries, including Enervalis and BAM, teamed up to carry out a H2020 project called REnnovates, which was granted five million euros in June 2015.
Lodeweyckx: “The REnnovates project is about energy efficient renovation for energy-neutral living and comprises of demo sites in the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.
“We want to set an example for optimal management of sustainable green residential buildings. After all, those can become the cornerstone of the distributed energy networks of the future.”
The green bandwagon
That success attracts talent is public knowledge. Lodeweyckx: “We are very pleased that the excellent InnoEnergy Master’s School student who interned with us received an IWT scholarship and will now carry out his doctoral research at Enervalis.
“Our youngest vacancy was filled by a real top talent who would have been able to earn more elsewhere, but who chose Enervalis because idealism is an integral part of our corporate culture.
“We practice what we preach: our company fleet consists of five electric vehicles; we have solar panels on the roof, and a comprehensive smart energy management system. Enervalis believes strongly in the enormous potential of green energy. We are open to any partners who wish to help us get more people onto that bandwagon.”