Recently, I had a call with Stefan Zähringer, General Manager at Powel AG., to catch up with developments at Powel. Mr. Zähringer noted that he was seeing several definite trends in the marketplace currently that included a distinct shift to intraday trading in power and gas markets. This, he stated, required greater automation both for optimization and for trading. As volumes of data are increasing and with renewable forecasts changing rapidly over the course of hours, this made for a challenging environment. Combine this with a move to more decentralized assets on both the production and consumption side of things (renewables, batteries etc.) and there really was an urgent need for enhanced optimization and automated trading. As the business and market changed rapidly, buyers were also seeking more flexible solutions with a better time to market, he said.
From an IT perspective, he also saw considerable change. Buyers were seeking more flexibility for customization and configuration to get that improved time to market or ability to respond to change. Additionally, they were seeking plug and play based on cloud/SaaS delivery and use of micro services in more of an open ecosystem with the emphasis being on APIs as opposed to the monolithic systems of the past. Certainly, his observations agree with much of what we are seeing in the marketplace as well.
From a Powel point of view, the company is focusing on automation – but of the entire business process from forecasting through multi-asset optimization, SCADA connection to intraday trading and market communication. He told me that its solutions are all cloud-ready and can be offered as SaaS on request pointing to Uniper and E.On who are using Powel solutions in the cloud for optimization, portfolio management, intraday trading and power and gas scheduling. The company is rapidly moving and able to offer an open ecosystem of applications based on an in-memory NoSQL data model and a high-performance time series management solution. It has also been busy with AI and its optimization tools include, for example, wind power production forecasting based on Machine Learning. It now offers forecasting, multi-asset optimization tools, production planning, an intraday trading cockpit, algo trader and DelteXE for power and gas logistics.
I also inquired regarding a recent announcement about OpenLink utilizing Powel’s scheduling solutions. He told me that they believed it was a win-win situation in which OLF no longer had to develop new solutions for all of the various European markets and Powel gained access to a new potential customer base with a proven solution that already worked with OLF software having been integrated for specific customers in the past.
All in all, it was an interesting conversation and Powel do seem to be coming to market with a suite of applications that utilize many of the new technologies that are currently of interest from cloud, through in-memory dB for performance, to AI. Currently, it has more than 500 staff and over 300 customers and continues to grow.