You need a lot of heat for greenhouse horticulture and when producing it many growers generate electricity that they can then sell on the APX electricity market. Buying and selling energy may be exciting, but it’s also time-consuming. Until now. Because specially for energy specialist AgroEnergy, CQM has developed the intelligence for their software tool, BiedOptimaal: ‘The autopilot for your APX’.
Agro Energy is the energy specialist for the Dutch agriculture sector and a leader in greenhouse horticulture, helping growers achieve optimum returns from their energy trading.
Many growers use a CHP (combined heat and power) system which converts the gas they’ve purchased into heat, electricity and CO2. The heat and CO2 can then be used by the grower in their greenhouses or stored for later use. The electricity generated is used for lighting the greenhouses, but any surplus can be fed back into the grid.
This is usually done via the APX market, where the supply & demand of electricity come together and prices set. Growers must indicate a day in advance when, how much and at what price they want to offer electricity. So it’s very important for them to be able to predict how much energy they’ll need in their greenhouse the next day, and at what moment they can best generate that energy via the CHP – that is, identify when the energy prices is at its high point.
Predicting and optimizing
Playing the energy market involves on the one hand predicting well and on the other optimizing. Two areas where CQM’s experience is second to none. Which is why they were hired by AgroEnergy to develop the already well-advanced ideas for a software tool for growers.
Following a pilot involving a few growers, in late 2013 the first production version of BiedOptimaal (‘Optimal Bidding’) was delivered. IT Consultancy VAA from Rosmalen, Agro Energy's preferred supplier of database and web-based solutions, also worked on the tool.
BiedOptimaal enables growers to enter their heat and CO2 requirements at the lowest possible cost, by identifying the optimal result for the next four days. BiedOptimaal’s output is an APX-bid for the next day, as a fully automated reading on the AgroEnergy energy portal. The grower can choose to check the bid first or let it be sent automatically to the APX market without checking.
The result on the APX is then read by AgroEnergy and translated into control information for the turning on and off of the grower’s installations. This means the grower no longer has constantly to keep track of the electricity price or fill in his energy requirements, but can instead relax in the knowledge that BiedOptimaal will generate a highly favourable APX bid.
BiedOptimaal has been for sale since July this year through Agro Energy. A few dozen growers are already making use of it, and that number is set to increase rapidly.
It was head of product development at AgroEnergy, Fieke Rijkers, who decided to involve a third party in the development of BiedOptimaal. 'Initially we had our doubts whether an external company could develop sufficient knowledge of our specific market. But CQM have certainly not disappointed and quickly grasped the essence of the challenge. BiedOptimaal has been very enthusiastically received by growers because it really removes their worries. And today the tool is the shining star of our business".
AgroEnergy's product developer, Loes Raijmakers, is also very happy with the collaboration with CQM. “I was particularly struck buy their focus and flexibility. From very early on, CQM understood how sensitive the end-result was for the results of the different sub-models, including the prediction of the heat-demand and price developments. So that the emphasis fell in just the right places."