Upside Energy teams up with Heriot Watt University to develop demand-response technologies

Dr Graham Oakes
Dr Graham Oakes

Upside Energy and Heriot-Watt University have secured a grant from Innovate UK to maximise the opportunities presented by the emerging energy demand-response market.

The project will use machine learning and distributed artificial intelligence methods to manage a portfolio of storage assets to provide real-time energy reserves to the grid.

Upside Energy’s virtual energy store will relieve stress on the grid by managing a number of distributed storage resources, thereby reducing the UK’s reliance on the spinning reserve capacity provided by traditional power stations.

Upside has developed an advanced suite of algorithms that manage demand response of different devices to be run in parallel. Upside will work with Heriot-Watt University to optimise the existing selection of control algorithms and their use in different scenarios, using the university’s specialist skills in machine learning, artificial intelligence and stochastic optimisation.

The company aims to reduce greenhouse gases by enabling people to make smart choices about when to use energy.

The team from Heriot-Watt University will work closely with Upside Energy to facilitate the transfer of these skills and to develop a novel ensemble learning and algorithmic selection approach that will be required to support algorithm evolution within Upside’s unique open innovation architecture.

Dr Graham Oakes, Founder and Chief Executive of Upside Energy, said: “This is a really exciting project.  Both because machine learning is going to be fundamental to how Upside evolves its algorithms and hence delivers growing value to the energy system and wider society, and because it builds on the longstanding relationship that we have been developing with Heriot-Watt University.  

“Our strategy is to work with academic partners to develop the intellectual property that will be at the heart of an intelligent energy system, one where resources are used carefully and thoughtfully and hence at low cost and with minimal impact on the environment.

Dr Valentin Robu from Heriot-Watt University, added: Demand response is emerging as a key technology to assure the stability of next-generation power grids, and there is an increasing need for smart control strategies that enable distributed energy storage assets to perform demand response.

“Techniques developed in the machine learning (ML) and distributed artificial intelligence (AI) communities will have an increasing role to play in enabling these efforts. 

“Moreover, there is an increasing interest in advanced fusion prognostics techniques that enable real-time monitoring and accurate forecasting of the state of health of energy assets.

“Upside Energy is one of the most innovative start-ups in the UK in this area, and their Advanced Algorithmic Platform (AAP) to evaluate the performance of different demand response strategies is a truly cutting edge development.”

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