Piclo (Open Utility) Business incubation support

UK electricity

The Carbon Trust has provided business incubation support to UK tech start-up Piclo (originally Open Utility), who are launching the UK’s first online renewable energy marketplace.

First online renewable energy marketplace, Piclo

What if businesses could meet their sustainability and marketing objectives every time they switched on their office lights?

The UK’s first online renewable energy marketplace, Piclo, is a way to help companies achieve this. Launched in October 2015, the online service lets customers pick the type of renewable electricity they want to buy (hydro, solar, wind), and which generator they want to buy it from.

Piclo is a collaboration between UK tech start-up Open Utility and 100 percent renewable electricity supplier Good Energy. The 6 month trial is being funded by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change and Nominet Trust, and is supported by Ofgem.

Business incubation support

The Carbon Trust has been providing business incubation support to Open Utility since June 2014. We have helped Open Utility with its fundraising strategy, market research, engagement with potential clients and partners, and recently supported Open Utility on developing its strategy and business model.

The new marketplace is an ideal fit for organisations with a commitment to sustainability as Piclo is based on 100 percent renewable electricity. The service gives sustainability teams the information and control they need to make decisions that align with the sustainability objectives of their organisations, company values, and energy targets.

Carbon Trust support through DECC's Energy Entrepreneurs Fund programme has been a key resource for the team over the last year. They've got a good balance of understanding start-ups' needs and a deep understanding of the sector.

James Johnston, Open Utility CEO and co-founder

How does it work?

Piclo links businesses with community generation projects so large-scale energy purchasing decisions can make a difference at a local level. For example, any customer buying electricity from Community Power Cornwall, a community run onshore wind generator available on Piclo, is also helping to fund energy efficiency grants for the local village, while raising capital for future renewable installations.

Piclo’s online electricity portfolio gives companies full control and traceability of every kWh and can help with their sustainability reporting. The service collects meter readings every half an hour for each business, giving granular data from 48 daily meter readings. Piclo also splits out the Generation Distribution Use of System (DUoS) charge rates for electricity consumed, so businesses can measure, track and avoid peak grid charges. Companies that can shift demand away from peak times can reduce their energy bills. Piclo could also help companies make the business and regulatory case for reducing or avoiding transmission and distribution use-of-service charges when the energy is generated and used locally.

The online service provided by Piclo has the potential to be a disruptive force in the energy industry. For the first time companies will be able to access a mechanism which enables them to self-supply, and sell electricity to their own sites, or even buy from someone already within their supply chain. All of which to date has not been possible. For example, an accounting company could decide to buy renewable electricity from one of their clients with a solar farm to support locally generated energy. Currently companies generating their own on-site renewable energy have only one option, to sell any spare renewable energy generation capacity back to the Grid. This new approach will not only create a dynamic trading market around renewable energy generation but will directly bolster investment into community driven renewable energy projects.

Working with Good Energy on Piclo, is the first step towards a fairer, smarter and local energy market. We are facing big challenges of climate change, increasing energy bills, and the status quo is not taking a lead in solving either of these problems. We need to empower people to take control of their energy. Carbon Trust support through DECC's Energy Entrepreneurs Fund programme has been a key resource for the team over the last year. They've got a good balance of understanding start-up's needs and a deep understanding of the sector. For example, the recent carbon reporting workshop with Carbon Trust has helped us to understand industry benchmarks, requirements and reporting methods.

James Johnston, Open Utility CEO and co-founder