One of the interesting and promising companies in the electricity sector in Israel is Foresight or FSIGHT. It is a hi- tech oriented company that combines AI (artificial intelligence), big data algorithms and smart grid management as well as infrastructure units such as smart batteries. II&S met Emek Sadot, FSIGHT’s CEO, to hear and to learn firsthand about the company’s vision of the future electricity market.
Could you describe the upcoming change in the electricity market?
It’s been over 260 years since a bolt of lightning sparked the world of electricity as we know it. The energy market is now moving away from centralized power plants and entering the era of distributed grids and peer-to-peer markets. Multiple elements of the energy ecosystem are evolving at a dizzying speed. End users are becoming “prosumers”, smart devices are proliferating, big data is available for analysis, renewable energy sources are growing, and business models and regulations are adapting. These changes require a completely new operating paradigm. This is why we’ve developed Energy AI, FSIGHT’s platform for managing distributed grids based on artificial intelligence.
How does FSIGHT fit into the new electricity landscape?
Energy AI ensures that in a distributed environment, energy flows at the optimal timing, direction and volume. Energy AI uses artificial intelligence algorithms to determine when to produce, consume, store and trade energy, to the cost benefit of the end user, the service provider and the grid operator. With thousands of emerging energy communities, FSIGHT’s vision is helping billions of prosumers efficiently manage their energy flow and transition to an energy-sustainable society.
Could you explain this in detail?
Energy AI learns and profiles the behavior of each prosumer and chooses – automatically and in real time – the most cost-effective strategies for using, storing and trading energy. When connected together, Energy AI agents collaborate to optimize the operation of the local grid operator and service provider. It’s based on a 3-tier architecture:
Basically, Energy AI follows several simple steps: communicating with smart devices, profiling end-user behaviour, forecasting, enforcing real-time decision and trading.
These changes require a completely new operating paradigm. This is why we’ve developed Energy AI, FSIGHT’s platform for managing distributed grids based on artificial intelligence
How do you see the company in about five years?
No one knows what the future holds, but the prosumer and decentralisation changes are irreversible. With over 100 million electric vehicles,1 billion prosumers, more than 10 billion smart devices – it’ll be a huge challenge to maintaining reliability and secured supply and grid stability. Our current developed solution is capable of handling thousands of different end points. It is a modular solution that enables us scaling-up to millions of end points, if needed, in relatively short time.
How do you examine the effectiveness of your solution?
There is no better test for technology than real life. Thus we deployed our solutions in various countries and various locations in order to verify and test our technology. To that end, we have deployed our solutions across Europe (for example, Turkey, Germany, Austria), we’re initiating projects in California and Australia but our flagship site is the pilot that we run in Kibbutz Ma’ale Gilboa. The kibbutz is a microcosm of the future electricity market in the sense that is has all the variety of prosumers types: residential, commercial and industrial, agriculture etc., and it also has all the production capabilities: photovoltaic, wind, pumped storage etc. Soon we will install in the kibbutz batteries as storage capability. According to our plan we will add residential batteries for the photovoltaic production sites which are a home kit but also shared batteries, with a capacity of hundreds of kilowatts, in the kibbutz’s open space. With this infrastructure we could simulate – today – the behaviour of the future electricity market having different market needs and regulatory regimes. In other words – in different countries. We believe that such a pilot offers a tremendous opportunity and is applicable for international players as well as for service providers and utilities across the globe.
Who are your business partners for the Ma’ale Gilboa pilot and what kind of additional collaborations are you looking for?
Our current, and future target, business partners are the leading service providers companies. For example, Dalia Energies Ltd. which is Israel ́s largest independent power producer (IPP) and accounts for about 8% of the Israeli electricity sector services and products, and the new challenges that will accompany them etc..
With thousands of emerging energy communities, FSIGHT’s vision is helping billions of prosumers to efficiently manage their energy flow and transition to an energy- sustainable society
Apart from utilities, do you think that participating in this pilot could be a business catalyst for other innovative companies?
Absolutely, last year Bloomberg published a report (“New Energy Finance 2017”) that presented the expected progress of the “behind the meter” electricity market. In the USA, for example, by 2025 9% of the entire electricity generation will be generated “behind the meter” - by people’s houses. This figure is translated to $12 billion that won’t flow to the traditional power manufacturers – this change is expected to evolve and spread all over the world. The innovative companies that are taking part in this pilot are already gaining deep knowledge and hands-on experience that is already turning into new business opportunities.
How important is it to make this transition to a sustainable grid, and do you think it can really be done?
Examining the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report shows the tremendous implications of every additional 0.5°C of global warming, and how important it is to accelerate the transition to a carbon-free economy. I am confident this transition is possible and can be done even faster than expected but it is clear that it will require unprecedented collaboration between countries, companies, organizations and billions of people. I believe we are facing the most complex challenge in the history of our civilisation, but if we focus our energy and act together, we will overcome it.
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