I recently took a briefing from Powel, primarily around their intra-day and automated trading offerings. Powel is now a sizable company with offices in 7 countries including south America however, its primary area of activity remains Europe where it has a large number of prestigious clients in the electricity sector amongst its about 1300 European customers. It is a leading supplier of software solutions to the energy, public and contracting sectors and it utilizes ‘service design thinking’ to co-create solutions together with its clients by bringing domain expertise, design and a comprehensive technology platform to the table. One such initiative resulted in the intra-day and automated trading solution which, certain Nordic and central European clients helped to co-develop.
The intra-day trading application is connected to both Nordpool and EPEX, and allows traders to buy/sell directly in those markets utilizing easy to use graphical and interactive screens. Trading strategies can be set up in any number of ways to reflect client positions, assets, own portfolio, and so on and P/L is tracked according to whatever reference price the users set up. The application is designed to lower transaction costs and remove trading barriers. It enables automated trading and continuous intraday trading in real time and Powel are already readying blockchain technologies to supplement the solution when the market is ready.
The integrated automated trading application is also comprehensive in terms of utilizing a ‘lab mode’ so that traders or analysts can build and test strategies and gain confidence in them prior to deployment in a live environment. Product Manager, Minxian Le, told me that the aims in designing the tool were as follows;
- Enable users to explore their strategies,
- Build confidence in the strategies before live deployment,
- Develop trust in the system to trade automatically,
- Supervise the system if needed with easy user intervention, and
- Play and have fun.
Strategies can be developed in one of three ways ranging from writing python code, through drag and drop logic, to tweaking predefined plug-and-play strategies that are included in the solution via easy to use screens. When the user is happy with a strategy, they can evaluate the code and then run that code against test beds and inspect a number of reports that show exactly how the robot worked along with other trades in the market. Orders can be deactivated or deleted in the market too and the tool can be used to propose trades that are executed manually if needed.
Today, Powel sees mostly basic automation being used in the market such as balancing and closure of open position, but expects sophistication to develop reasonably rapidly through time. Additionally, they see most traders using a combination of manual and robot trading while some smaller traders are using robots only due to staff and working hour constraints.
The applications are, of course, fully integrated with Powel’s broader suite of applications in the trading arena including forecasting, longer term trading and risk, scheduling and nomination, position management and so on.
Based on what I saw, Powel have a comprehensive approach and a well-designed set of applications for real-time power markets which have plainly seen a good deal of client co-development. However, this has become quite a crowded market with competitive offerings emerging from traditional ETRM vendors as well as more utility-focused software suppliers who lack an ETRM offering. Despite that, Powel’s solution benefits from co-development with active traders and in demonstration mode, shows very well in terms of ease of use and delivery of comprehensive functionality. Furthermore, Powel are rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the European ETRM software markets.