Modo: How data could make you millions in storage

By BEN COOK

  • Modo Energy CEO says using data to assess storage market helps optimise assets
  • Quentin Draper-Scrimshire adds 80% of market benefitting from Modo platform
  • Company’s clients include Gresham House, Gore Street, Shell and BP

What’s the difference between potentially making millions with energy storage assets and losing millions on them?

Making the best use of data. That’s the view of Quentin Draper-Scrimshire, CEO and co-founder of Modo Energy, a software provider that says it uses data to glean information on how and where energy storage assets are operating and then uses it to benchmark the performance of those assets and forecast future returns.

And a significant proportion of the market shares Draper-Scrimshire’s view. 

Modo says it is helping “80% of the market” make their energy storage assets more successful. Among the company’s most notable clients are investment funds and utility companies, including Gresham HouseGore StreetHabitat and Harmony, as well as ShellBP and Limejump.

Modo was founded three years ago in Birmingham by Draper-Scrimshire and business partner Tim Overton. Previously, Draper-Scrimshire had led KiWi Power’s European energy storage business and, prior to that, he worked at Centrica in offshore wind, oil and gas, thermal power, peaking plant and energy storage.

Modo currently has offices in Birmingham and London, it employs 20 staff in the UK, as well as a further 18 software developers dotted around Europe.

Now the company is set to open its first overseas office with a new operation set to launch in Austin, Texas in the first quarter of next year. And it’s Draper-Scrimshire who will relocate with his wife and daughter to head the new office – the UK and the US have been identified as Modo’s target markets.

Energy Storage Report spoke to Draper-Scrimshire to find out exactly how Modo’s platform works and how it improves subscribers’ businesses.

What is Modo’s data platform exactly and how does it help optimise energy storage assets?

Quentin Draper-Scrimshire: Let’s start with what we believe. We believe that, in the 1980s, the financial markets were transformed into digital markets. There’s a couple of companies that had a big impact on that – if you look at Bloomberg or Reuters, they really made these markets more transparent and available to everybody. We think the same is happening in energy right now, so there’s a huge opportunity to make data available to all market participants. And alongside that, there’s some big mega trends like energy markets moving towards real time and the net zero movement, which means that people need more and more data to operate and optimise those assets. And so what we are is an asset success company. Our product is an asset success platform, and it’s for owners and operators of energy storage. But the vision for the company is much bigger than that. The vision is to be a global leader in information on the commercialisation of assets. And that includes storage, solar and wind. But right now we’re very focused on energy storage because we think it’s the most complicated problem. And that makes it incredibly interesting.

What does asset success mean? 

QDS: It means all the information you need to be successful with operating or owning your assets. So that is market data, asset data performance benchmarking or forecasting revenues. We’ve got machine learning tools that will forecast how much money you’re going to make this winter, for example. And then we’ve got a research team as well that conducts world leading research.

You say energy storage is particularly complicated, why? 

QDS: It’s a new type of asset class – you can’t just build it and leave it. You also have the way you operate and that’s the difference between making a tonne of money or negative returns. That has changed the whole model of investing in operating renewable energy assets. There’s also lots of physical limitations with these assets. You can’t run them too hard because they degrade. You can only do a couple of cycles a day. All of this is a very complex optimisation problem.

How do you get the data?

QDS: It’s either APIs [application programming interfaces] that we pull from, or we also have some scripts that will scrape data, and sometimes we will pass Excel sheets, for example, from the network operators. Then there’s a big data cleaning operation that we have to do, which is not very sexy, but somebody’s got to do it. And then on top of that data, we’ve got a lot of scripts that we’ve been writing over the last three and a half years. One of the main things we do in performance benchmarking is we calculate how much money everybody’s making and then publish it. We’re 100 per cent software, everything we do is in the cloud.

How does the Modo platform work?

QDS: Our product is like the Bloomberg terminal, you can access everything on an online platform. You can click on a battery and see how much money it’s made, you can see what trades it’s made. You can see what it’s doing on a half an hour basis for the last day, it’s charge and discharge profiles. You can see everything. And the main thing is you can’t just see your own assets, you can see the whole market, all your competitors. About 80 per cent of the market in Great Britain subscribe to our paid service. Our value proposition is our analysts write stuff before you even know you need to know it. You get access for the whole organisation so everybody in the organisation is up-skilled. But then there’s also benchmarking, we have the revenue benchmark which is used by asset owners and route-to-market providers in their contracts. They may say you have to beat the Modo benchmark otherwise I want performance penalties. You can see exactly how much money has been made versus the Modo benchmark – you can see exactly where it’s made its money in each day, across the week, across the month. On a 24-hour basis, you can also see which markets its been in and what trades are being made on the wholesale market. We also rank everyone against each other.

How does your platform improve your subscribers’ businesses?

QDS: Operators of assets have to be informed operators – this asset class is so complicated and there’s a lot more decisions you have to make on a regular basis, which range from when do I plan my maintenance, or where do I build my asset to how do I finance it? What we do is provide all of that data to help decision making across their organisation. By having our data and knowing how the market’s moving, that can be the difference between making millions or losing millions.

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