National Grid Partners (NGP) serves as the eyes and ears of the business, searching for innovations that will keep National Grid at the forefront of the energy industry. As the industry is reshaped by decarbonization, decentralization, and digitization, NGP helps National Grid’s core businesses stay on the leading edge.
Energy is becoming distributed. Utilities have the daunting task of integrating multiple sources of energy into their grid operations, including: utility-owned wind and solar; customer-owned assets; community and rooftop solar; and electric vehicle (EV) and storage assets. At the same time, National Grid needs to provide its customers with safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy. This presents the challenge of taking massive amounts of data coming from a variety of sources and making real time decisions to balance demand and supply. Innovative utilities that can harness the power of AI and data analytics to automate distributed energy management to delight their customers are the ones who will win in this new landscape. Therefore, National Grid partnered with AutoGrid, an artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics software company in the distributed energy market segment. NGP recently invested in AutoGrid and they are already making a strategic impact at National Grid.
What they do
AutoGrid helps utilities automate distributed energy management. The foundation is AutoGrid’s Energy Internet Platform, which uses machine learning to process data from millions of energy assets and predict demand patterns.
On top of that platform, AutoGrid runs a suite of applications that automatically matches energy supply with user demand and manages distributed energy resources, and it helps customers easily create value from their own energy assets.
“You have sensor data, customer data, pricing data—over time, that all needs to be automated,” says Pradeep Tagare, Vice President of Corporate Venture Capital at NGP. “And that’s where machine learning comes in—observing the changes and patterns and adjusting to that in terms of where you’re drawing energy.”
The current energy industry landscape makes it easier than ever for anyone to become an energy producer. AutoGrid helps utilities meet the challenges created by the distributed energy world, allowing utilities to better understand and optimize their grid.
Why NGP invested
NGP made an investment in AutoGrid alongside a leading group of corporate energy VCs and institutional investors, including Energy Impact Partners, Foundation Capital, E.ON, Total Energy Ventures, Envision Ventures, CLP, and Innogy Ventures, among others. The investment is an acknowledgment of AutoGrid’s technical leadership, with one of the best utility-focused AI teams in Silicon Valley and its strong market traction across over 50 customers and 10 countries.
“Everyone wants a clean energy strategy, and AutoGrid is primed to capitalize on that demand,” says Tagare. “This is a platform that large utilities like National Grid require to effectively bring those resources online and enable a smarter energy future for the industry.”
Benefits to National Grid and its customers
Even before its investment, National Grid used AutoGrid to integrate and manage over 400MW of commercial and industrial demand response resources across Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island.
“AutoGrid’s software solution enabled us to manage multiple commercial and industrial customer programs holistically through a single dashboard for event dispatch, measurement and verification, and reporting,” says John Isberg, Vice President, Customer Sales and Solutions, National Grid U.S. “The net result is more cost-effective demand response, reduced operational expenses – all which benefit our customers.”
From the end customer point-of-view, large commercial and industrial users can better use their renewable energy resources and integrate them onto the grid, becoming more efficient and giving them greater flexibility with their own assets.
The NGP investment will help AutoGrid expand to new areas of distributed energy management at National Grid and with other utilities.
What this means in the future for National Grid
Demand response management is only the beginning of National Grid’s partnership with AutoGrid. AutoGrid’s platform is broader than those of other companies in its class, thereby providing utilities with a future-proof analytics foundation. Autogrid provides a software platform and multiple applications including demand response optimization, distributed energy management, virtual power plant, and energy storage management. In comparison, its competitors typically provide only one of these capabilities. This broad offering helps to secure National Grid’s future as a leading provider of distributed energy resources.
Leading the way and delivering impact
National Grid is leading the way for its customers to benefit in a world of renewable and distributed energy. Through our partnership with AutoGrid, National Grid will have leading edge technology and expertise to provide its customers with cost-effective and reliable energy when they need it, reduce their energy costs, and meet their sustainability goals.