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Current± Disruptors: Igloo Energy’s Matt Clemow on taking a smart energy management approach to decarbonisation

Image: Igloo Energy.

Igloo Energy is a small energy supplier focused on a singular variable tariff, with an app to facilitate smart energy management. It recently secured a £20 million investment from Osaka Gas for its home services arm, Igloo Works, and launched an electric vehicle (EV) charging app that charges a vehicle when the grid is greenest.

Igloo Energy’s CEO and founder Matt Clemow spoke to Current± about the role of data, facilitating smart energy management and using emission forecasts to charge EVs.



Why has Igloo Energy gone down the route of a singular variable tariff and an energy management app over launching a renewable-only tariff?

If you look at carbon emissions and carbon savings today, if we can reduce heating consumption by 70% just by cutting the waste in our homes and then not heating it when we’re not there, that will have a meaningful and direct impact on carbon emissions this year. If we were simply buying renewable tariffs and that was all we were doing, that may result in more renewables going on the grid in 3-5 years, but actually, it’s not going to have a meaningful impact today.

This is very much more about how to accelerate carbon savings; driving it through energy efficiency means next week or next month when some of us turn down our thermostat dials, carbon emissions do change immediately. You buy a simple renewable tariff from Shell or E.On, nothing changes. The grid mix doesn’t change; they don’t suddenly build a new wind farm.

Igloo has also launched an EV charging app to charge vehicles when carbon emissions are at their lowest. How does this work?

That was a partnership with a company called EV.energy. Essentially, what we do is take a 24-hour view of wholesale power emissions; National Grid publishes on an hourly basis what’s going on on the grid and what it’s going to look like in the next 24 hours. We’ll know, for instance, overnight in winter when its windy there’s going to be lots of wind generation and not very much demand.

So the app takes that forecast and it then looks at the current state of charge of the consumer’s car, as they plug in when they get home as they normally would, and then they tell us when they want it available by. Typically that will be the next morning. And then the software will sit there in the background and say, well in order to get you to fully charged by 8am in the morning, I’m going to charge for 7 hours. I have eleven hours to choose from, so which are the seven greenest hours?

The app is currently compatible with Tesla and Rolec chargers. Are there any plans to roll this out further with other companies?

There is active ongoing development with others at this point in time, and a roadmap in place for that. There are constant conversations with manufacturers, in particular, but sometimes these things don’t go quite as quickly as startups might like. But we are certainly looking to expand it.

How much of a role does customer data play in developing tariffs and apps like yours?

I think data is an absolutely key part.

If we had lots of people sat there in the background hand-cranking it would cost us too much as a business to have the impact that we need. So technology is an absolutely core part of what we do and building as much automation into that as possible. Where our machine learning and our algorithms are able to give recommendations in the best interest of the customer is absolutely critical and how we’re going to scale.

Is the £20 million from Osaka Gas going to help with the scaling up?

It’s really being used for three things. It’s being used to help drive growth in the energy supply business so we can help more customers overall; it’s being used to help ensure all the goods and systems and processes are in place so the energy supply business can scale. And then it’s about how we can build more compelling energy efficient propositions in Igloo Works so that we can find the best way - and the cheapest way - to deliver the best returns to the consumer.

Editorial

Alice Grundy Reporter, Current±

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