Top 3 Energy Asset Management Software

In the last years, technology companies have developed several software that help RE asset managers to reduce costs, improve the performance of their plants and organize activities and tasks. 

If we look at the market right now, we see that these software help asset managers in four different ways:

  • Operations

Just like enterprise resource planning systems, asset management platforms speed up operations by automating tasks and events, managing procurement and inventory and keeping track of all activities related to contracts and compliance needs.

  • Finance

Some software gives the possibility to turn energy flows into cash flows. In addition to that, they can help drawing business plans and analyse the impact of asset performance and related expenses on the overall profitability.

  • Customer relationships

Most of asset management platforms not only have CRM features, but also allow to automate all performance and asset reporting activities, while easily sending invoices to customers.

  • Monitoring

Some asset management tools also integrate features which are typical of O&M systems, like alarms management, production monitoring, weather and performance ratio tracking.

In our opinion, these are the top 3 Energy Asset Management software available in the market:

  • Arbox – an innovative clean-tech company that develops software to solve problems in the renewable energy sector.  Its purpose is to
    lower the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) through smart software.
  • Alectris – It optimizes Solar PV Performance with Integrated Operations, Maintenance and Asset Management. They are a global solar O&M firm, creators of ACTIS, Solar ERP.
  • 3megawatt GmbH – It develops web based software tools for solar asset management. The company offers BluePoint, a web based platform for solar asset management and portfolio risk management. It caters to Fund Managers, Equity Sponsors, REITs, Private Equity firms, and Asset Managers.

Now, when it comes to choose a software it is important to consider what makes sense for you.

On one hand, these kinds of software are extremely reliable: they have been tested and are used daily by various asset managers. They are easy to integrate and easy to get, as we previously wrote on our last article.

On the other hand, you have to consider your budget and understand if what you are paying for is really what you need.  For example, not all tools can handle the same amount of data and there is no sense in paying for more capacity than you will need. Plus, you get a software which cannot be customized and could possibly miss features you need to run your business.

So, at the end of the day your priorities will dictate which is right for your company. With any investment, the initial cost as well as the costs to customize and then train your staff must be considered. You want to be sure you not only purchase the right software, but that you have the level of support you need and a marketplace where you can easily get what you need, seems the perfect answer.

This is the one of a series of articles, where we take a look at how energy companies can boost their performances through digital energy. In this series we will discuss:

  • New revenue opportunities in the digital energy era
  • Main struggles with energy monitoring and management software
  • Vertical all in one solutions Vs. Building your own energy software

New business opportunities from digital energy technologies

We’re entering an era of massive change in the energy sector. Renewables are demanding for new capabilities: data collection and exchange are growing exponentially, creating digital threats which are at the same time valuable opportunities.  

These opportunities are present for all the renewables actors, but let’s dive in in each category’s new revenue opportunities:

Asset management: Highest system performance at the lowest maintenance cost

In the digital era O&M companies are able to automate their asset management. Thanks to dozens of systems they can automate most of the tasks, such as financial and performance reporting, contracts management, and improve their results from many other tools, leading to a more efficient asset management.

Energy trading: Managing price volatility in the energy markets

This is a revenue opportunity for asset managers and sometimes O&M companies. Indeed, energy trading has never been so simple, thanks to lots of energy trading and risk management (ETRM) and load optimization software in the market. Nowadays’ applications can cover all aspects of a transaction lifecycle, eliminating any chance of human error while aggregating, blending, and analyzing inputs from all data sources, which allows you to manage and automate your energy trading.

Energy communities: Allowing multiple participants to benefit from one solar array.

In liberalized markets, PV developers and system integrators with strong technical and financial background can operate energy communities. Many tools allow to automate the billing process, optimize complex energy production, storage and consumption systems and trade energy or flexibility sources in electricity markets. So, thanks to the digital energy these companies can now compete with larger utilities.

Aggregators: Maintain grid stability and reliability.

Today it seems that every energy trader and power producer wants to become an aggregator of renewable energy, storage or demand response resources. They can do this, by exploiting the aggregation and real-time action of energy assets and industrial loads can provide accurate frequency regulation and demand response. Nowadays energy trading softwares operate in an asset-agnostic environment that leverages open APIs for asset integration. This enables various DER asset types and tailors optimization needs to the specific value proposition in any geography. 

 

Indeed, the software necessary to achieve all these great opportunities is out there, companies just need to understand what they really want to achieve and go for it.

This is the third of a series of articles, where we take a look at how energy companies can boost their performances through digital energy. In this series we will discuss:

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Vertical all in one solutions Vs. Building your own energy software

The revolution of energy management has created the need for more powerful and advanced tools: more and more of our day-to-day lives are becoming automated, and today energy companies are working on doing the same. So you need to find the right software for managing your energy. But first you need to decide if you should subscribe to an all in one solution that comes ready-made or reach for a software house to create your own. There are obviously pros and cons to both options, but what’s the better deal?

Buying an all in one solution.

The first option is subscribing to digital services: a SaaS solution, like O&M or asset management’s platforms to monitor the performance of the plants.

When it comes to pros, first of all it’s almost guaranteed to be the less expensive option. Second, when you buy an already existing software, you’re able to use it immediately, cutting down the time you need to wait to improve your business. Also, when you subscribe to an all in one solution, that software is used by others too, so there is the benefit of it being paid for, tested and improved constantly, and most companies offer full support to help you get comfortably set up and running smoothly. All the updates, security and maintenance are taken care of for you.

But the biggest benefit of buying a software that’s already been made, is that you pay for experience: the endless revisions, bug fixes, product launches and relaunches that go into developing a software. You’re paying for the years of work the creator put into their own business. And, you also gain from other companies like yours’ feedbacks. Which may mean you end up with great features you never would have thought of.

Obviously there are risks too: while buying a platform that isn’t custom-made it won’t perfectly match your needs. Plus, you might end paying for features you don’t need and missing some that are crucial for your business.

 

Building your own energy management software 

The second option you have is paying a software house to develop your own platform.

The immediate pros for a custom system are obvious: it is tailor-made to fit your needs. Every detail is built with your specific workflow in mind and every feature is one you’re guaranteed to use. You get exactly what you want. No one else has a say in what changes are made to the software. You never lose the features you use, and all the data you get out of your software are relevant to your business. 

But what many don’t realize is how expensive a custom platform can be, or how long it takes to build. Energy companies are complex systems, so they require complex software to run, which can take months to build. Even once they’re built, they cost a fortune to maintain. Updates, security and bug fixes are all additional costs that need to be maintained.

And last, but certainly not least, once you have built your own software you are locked for the long term. Every time you need to add new features or change some functionalities, you need to go through the whole process again. This slows down the innovation process by a lot. In this era of big changes in the energy industry, keeping the pace of innovation is the key to effectively compete against both incumbents and start-up companies.

So, what’s better?

Today the goal of energy companies is to grow in the most efficient way possible. 

If you have the time, resources and patience for building your own energy management platform, it might be worth it, but so many companies don’t. At the end of the day, you have to decide what your business goals are: do you want to spend your time and energy building software or growing your business?

Custom software will increase your efficiency and fit your businesses, but it’s not efficient to implement. It costs more time and money than most businesses are willing to spend.

Although subscribing to an all in one solution might not be the perfect fit, it still offers an efficient solution that will help you grow your business, without spending months just to get started. They’re built with experience, and they were made to help you succeed.

In conclusion, the key is definitely in finding a balance between these two options, don’t you think?

This is the second of a series of articles, where we take a look at how energy companies can boost their performances through digital energy. In this series we will discuss:

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Benefits of digitalization in the power industry

As electricity markets evolve for integrating large amounts of renewable energies and for improving energy efficiency of different sectors, energy and utility companies find it difficult to keep their margins and integrating new technologies they didn’t know before. Today, hundreds of startups and big companies provide technologies and platforms that allow power producers, utilities and other companies in the energy sector to reduce their operating costs, increase revenues and exploit new business opportunities. Digitalization of Energy Systems, a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), predicts significant shifts in the intelligence of digital technologies used in energy from today to 2025, and a big change in the sectors of the energy system that most benefit from these technologies. The same study, shows that investments in digital energy are growing at 20% rate every year, reaching $55 billion globally last year. These are shared among smart meters, energy management systems and automated demand response or microgrid load scheduling.
Figure: Market size for digital technologies in energy Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
But what are the main benefits that these technologies are bringing to players in the power sector? 1. An optimized maintenance – the transition from preventive to predictive reduces the costs of ownership by maintaining the reliability and availability of an asset. Preventive and conditions-based maintenance allow asset owners to reduce their O&M costs, by the enhanced planning of the maintenance activities, in this way unnecessary work is avoided. Maintenance on a running machine which is in good condition puts the assets in jeopardy rather than improving them, plus reduced downtime period is ensured by identifying the point of failure quickly. 2. The ability to cut down asset management costs by freeing up asset managers’ significant time so that they can focus on the responsibilities that really matter. According to a McKinsey Global Institute study, only 39% of an employee’s time is spent on role-specific tasks. The other 61%? Slogging through email, trying to find a missing file, or syncing with co-workers. Many asset management activities, such as managing contracts, tasks and expenses, can be digitalized, reducing the time spent by people doing the job. Also, invoices, bills and reports can be greatly automated, thus bringing huge efficiency gains to the whole organization. 3. By managing electricity loads in response to price signals, these players are able to participate in the market and benefit from lower power costs. Accurate energy forecasting for variable renewable energies allows to avoid imbalance costs which are increasing in many countries. When these assets are coupled with flexibility sources or controllable consumption loads, forecasting energy and electricity prices becomes crucial to optimize load scheduling and participation to different energy and ancillary markets. Technologies today allow to optimize the behaviour of complex systems made of different production units, energy storage systems and energy consumers. 4. Digital energy is the path to unlock new business opportunities  Innovative business models unlock new revenue and profit sources by offering innovative services. Digital technologies allow asset managers to become virtual power plant managers, utilities to implement new business models based on distributed generation and solar installers to build energy communities. 5. Digital tools give companies in the energy sector new ways to interact with their customers, making them more loyal. Many utilities and other energy service organizations are seeking to transition from electricity provider to trusted energy advisor. Whether they are residential or industrial consumers, or even owners of power plants, digital services allow to enhance the interaction with the customer. Custom web and mobile apps are helping energy & utility companies to enhance the overall perceived satisfaction with the brand. Advanced reporting tools allow O&M contractors and asset managers to improve the transparency with the owner and to effectively deliver the information when and how it’s needed.     This is the first of a series of articles, where we take a look at how energy companies can boost their revenues through digital energy. In this series we will discuss:
  • Where is digital energy going?
  • Why your company shouldn’t build its own energy monitoring and management software
  • Why a marketplace is better than an all-in-one solution for the energy sector

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