Smarter energy use for a carbon-free future
To say that our 2015 ClimateLaunchpad Finalist Sympower is doing well would be the understatement of the year. In 2017 they raised €1M from Enfuro Ventures and Angel Investors.
“ClimateLaunchpad taught us how to build the foundations of our business.”
Sympower is a demand response aggregator that enables smarter energy use for a carbon-free future. They bundle the electricity use of electric appliances on the demand side and offer that capacity as reserves to grid operators on all levels: the national transmission system operators and the regional distribution network operators.
Balancing the system on the demand side results in a sustainable alternative to balancing the supply and demand of electricity in the manner that is currently executed by power plants. So instead of turning up production at coal and gas fired power plants, Sympower can turn on and off or up and down electricity use of appliances at the user side to solve the imbalance on the grid. This way they save CO2 while matching demand to supply of electricity in real-time.
“Working on opening up markets in Europe and the Middle East.”
From sharing a 1-bedroom apartment to €1M investment
Simon Bushell (CEO) and Georg Rute (CTO) founded Sympower in 2015. They studied together at Imperial College in London. They got their idea during a lecture by one of their professors, where they looked into demand response with refrigerators. They kept in touch after graduating and dreamt about turning the idea of managing household appliances to balance the grid into a business. What they had figured out was a way to balance the electricity system more sustainably and they both agreed that the idea was worth pursuing.
They both left their jobs at the time and moved to Estonia (where Georg is from) to turn their idea into reality. This is where they started Sympower, and also where they entered (and won) ClimateLaunchpad and joined the Climate-KIC Accelerator programme. To save costs Georg and Simon shared a 1-bedroom apartment for the first 8 months of their start-up life.
Potential savings of 80 billion euros and 2% global CO2
“It’s quite hard to calculate the CO2 savings our platform offers. Calculating how much CO2 the sustainable balancing service and electricity reserves can avoid depends on many factors behind the meter. Production from renewables, where a grid operator would alternatively source the reserves from and the efficiency of the appliances used are all contributing factors to the level of emissions required to restore the balance on the grid. If we were active in every country we could save the electricity transmission system operators globally billions of euros and bring down the global carbon emissions by balancing through our system.”
In 2016 Sympower moved to the Netherlands for the Rockstart Smart Energy Accelerator programme. While at Rockstart they started a pilot with Engie (a utility company) and started sales to commercial and industrial loads in Finland.
By the end of 2017 they managed to raise €1M in investment from Enfuro Ventures and from Angel Investors. The private contributors are all experienced entrepreneurs in the energy, software and cleantech industries. Two of them met Sympower at an EIT Climate-KIC event shortly after the start-up was founded. In one year’s time, the Sympower team expanded from 5 to 20 people. The investment now secures their scale-up to new countries in Europe and introduction into Israel.
“There’s huge potential for saving CO2 emissions.”
A virtual power plant
The reason Sympower does what they do is that they want to facilitate smarter use of energy. Their slogan is: ‘Smarter energy use for a carbon-free future’.
“By using appliances in a smarter way at a more efficient time, it’s possible to take fossil fuel plants offline because they won’t be needed for balancing the electricity grid,” says Laura van Jaarsveld, Chief of Staff at Sympower. “Also, renewables cause a challenge on the electricity grids, since their production is very unpredictable and they actually can create imbalances. When there’s too much electricity on the grid the extra load needs to be shed. When there’s too little we need to generate more electricity. Sympower however, acts as a virtual power plant, managing the demand of electricity to match the supply, taking away the need for extra generation. In the long-term it will be possible to take fossil fuel plants offline, but currently we minimise emissions for balancing the electricity grid. Based on that there’s huge potential for saving CO2 emissions.”
ECO17 Amsterdam: Simon Bushell Sympower
“We are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished since staring out in 2015,” Laura continues. “Our headquarters are now in Amsterdam and we have a team of developers in Estonia and a sales team in Finland. We also have a colleague in Israel who is looking into business development for the Middle East.
“We are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished since starting out in 2015.”
As well as our commercial activities in the Netherlands, we are also working on a number of pilot projects with system operators, working together to create the electricity system of the future.
We share the revenue that comes from the transmission system operator with end owners of the appliance. So you can say that we rent the opportunity to control their appliances and they get compensated for allowing us that control, and of course for supporting a more sustainable energy system.”
Best advice: don’t sit on your idea, join ClimateLaunchpad.
"Join this competition if you have been sitting on an idea and you're unsure how to go from idea to business. It worked for us!"
-Simon Bushell, CEO at Sympower