Interview with Michiel Kuiper, CCO of Energy21


Energy21 is a Partner of the CIED Approved Programme

What do you think energy intensive users need in order to seize the opportunities in the future energy market design?

We are happy to see a growing interest of energy intensive users in monetizing their flexibility potential and/or optimizing their business processes to increase profit and reduce emissions. Not only for regulated commodities, such as power and gas, but also for other (internal) commodities, such as steam and technical gasses. I think the CIED Programme reflects this as well. 

Optimization and flexibility are linked to each other, yet there are also essential differences. However, in either case, companies won’t gain a euro or even save a gram of CO², if they do not manage to overcome two main challenges first. These challenges are: 1) quantify and locate their flexibility and/or optimization potential and 2) operationalize this potential.

Can you further explain these two challenges the average European commercial or industrial energy user will need to overcome? 

First, you cannot build a proper operational strategy if you do not know the size of your flexibility / optimization potential and its location within your production process. To find out, you need to be able to monitor your production processes through energy information.

For example, do you know your production planning and demand needed to determine your grid capacity and avoid peaks? What is the size and availability of your flexibility potential and can you pre-define scenarios in which your flexibility gains are set off against their costs? Or when it comes to multi-utility production processes, are you able to weigh the efficiency wins of using one utility against the other?

Second, if you have defined your strategy based on this information, you’ll need to incorporate it into your operation. New questions arise. For example, how do you operationalize your energy goals without jeopardizing production targets? And is your operational staff able to act in line with your strategy? 

In other words, you’ll need to make sure your energy flexibility and/or optimization strategy is not only ambitious but also feasible to execute by all the departments of your organization - from sourcing to field operations.

Can you share a best practice illustrating the importance of both substantiating and operationalizing your energy strategy at all levels?

Over the past 20 years we at Energy21 have been able to distinguish the key parameters for an efficient energy operation. Depending on the company type, organizations may find their biggest gains at different aspects. Yet, a common ground for large energy users to start benefiting is being able to pre-define operational scenarios.

For example, the decision to run an energy intensive asset is influenced by many factors. You should be able to weigh for example imbalance costs against optimization or production wins.

If you can organize your energy information in such a way that it connects these different energy information streams, you are able to pre-define the most common scenarios and create automated responses.

Based on these responses, your field staff is better equipped to make operational decisions that in this case avoid high imbalance costs while pursuing optimization and primary production targets.

Read more about the CIED Approved Programme