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The murky world of flexibility platforms

The word ‘platform’ is one of the biggest energy business buzz words of the 21st century. Across the energy industry everyone has been talking about them, developing them (or being told they need to develop one) and the demand side flexibility space is no exception to this. But what do we even mean by ‘platform’? Do all these flexibility platforms do the same thing? And if not, how do they fit together?

In the last few months, the Flexibility Research team has been looking in depth at the murky world of platforms to answer these questions. There’s been no simple answers, but through discussions with contacts across the sector we’ve developed a framework of four types of platforms and their capabilities. Whilst it’s still early stages, there are examples of each of these platforms interacting with each other to cover the full demand side flexibility value chain.

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Selling heating systems online: the first step in the evolution from products to services

Buying a new heating appliance today typically involves finding and dealing with a local installer, as well as taking time off work to wait at home for a site survey and installation, all for a price which the customer generally does not know is competitive or not. Why not just buy online? With the internet giving customers more power and more information, is this trend finally coming to the very traditional heating sector?

New entrants like Thermondo are speeding up this slow and arduous process by doing the site survey remotely, either by asking the customer a few simple questions online or over the phone, having them upload photos of their heating system, or doing a video call. The first benefit for customers here is that they don’t have to wait very long at all to get a quotation, and they also don’t need to be at home waiting for an installer to come around and do it.

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Platforms: an essential part of the energy system

Platforms are one of the hot topics in the new energy sector. There are platforms which connect buyers and sellers such as for installing heating appliances or auto-switching, which interrupts the traditional energy retail-customer relationship. And there are those which connect, link and even manage large numbers of energy assets together such as hot water tanks, electric vehicles and batteries.

But why are platforms such a hot topic today?

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