“We want to digitalize the entire electricity market”

Expert Interview – March 18, 2024

Michael Seeholzer, Company founder and Managing Director of Virtual Global Trading

Virtual Global Trading (VGT) is a young digital energy industry service company based in Aarau, Switzerland. The software company has developed a platform with the goal to revolutionize the industry by offering utility companies and their end customers digital solutions.

Start-up founder and Managing Director Michael Seeholzer explains what the platform has to offer.

Mr. Seeholzer, how was VGT founded?

My co-founder Gregor Martinovic and I had been working on system services and flexibility in power grids in other companies for more than ten years. With our first company, we were able to disrupt and saturate the entire electricity balancing market in Switzerland, and then we set our new goal to digitalize the entire electricity market.

We founded Virtual Global Trading in late 2018, and since then we’ve been revolutionizing the energy industry by driving the digital transformation.

That’s quite a statement, but what exactly are you revolutionizing?

With our VGT platform, we control the systems of our end customers according to consumption and generation, among other things. To this end, we use artificial intelligence to analyze and optimize the interaction of systems and devices based on market prices, weather and many other factors that affect electricity production and consumption. Utility companies can pass on the benefits they generate with our platform to their customers.

Does this mean that, for example, you can control the charging process of electric cars via the EV-charger based on the power supply of the owner’s PV system and the market prices on the spot market?

Yes, with artificial intelligence this is a piece of cake. But our VGT platform takes it a step further. I should mention here that we work exclusively in the B2B area. Utilities can use our versatile and modular solution to offer their energy customers new options that benefit both parties. The first step is for users to get an overview of their electricity consumption using our interactive tools.

Next, they can either optimize it themselves or let our software optimize it for them. This allows customers to benefit from lower energy prices while utility companies can use their customers’ flexibility to stabilize their grids or selling it at balancing markets, for example.

It seems you’re anticipating future developments, such as dynamic electricity prices for end customers.

The entire country of Liechtenstein is already using our VGT platform to settle their customers’ solar feed-in based on dynamic energy exchange prices. These dynamic electricity tariffs cause prices to change on an hourly or, in the future, even quarter-hourly basis. This also affects residential customers – making it important for every EV driver to know when they should charge their vehicle battery. Our software can optimize charging.

So you’re exclusively a software provider?

Exactly. We offer a SaaS solution for energy companies. SaaS stands for Software-as-a-Service and describes a cloud-based software model companies can use to provide their customers applications via a web browser. The customers only interact with their utility company, but our application runs in the background. In addition to our SaaS solution, we’re also active in the electricity balancing market ourselves with our own solution.

What devices and systems can be integrated into your system?

Anything the energy companies or their customers want can be done – including all decentralized systems such as PV systems, charging stations, battery storage systems or heat pumps, and other large electricity consumers. Our VGT platform is modular, so it can be individually tailored to our customers’ needs.

Flexibility has become an important asset for electricity markets that are heavily influenced by variable sources such as wind and solar. How can utilities and end customers maximize its benefits?

Our software can market outputs as small as ten kilowatts in the balancing market by combining them with other small outputs. We also provide the necessary ancillary services, from prequalification and marketing of systems for primary, secondary or tertiary operating reserves to complex groups of systems that are operated through our platform.

The components in this system can include everything from charging stations to the largest pumped-storage power plant. What’s important is that devices can be connected to our platform regardless of their manufacturer or the type of interface they have. Our software can interact with all registered devices and dynamically generate bills for each data point.

So you also handle customer bills on behalf of the utility company?

Our platform can be used to create entire customer bills. The platform is not only limited to managing measurement data and controlling relevant systems, it can also generate bills based on different tariffs. This includes traditional electricity bills for end customers as well as bills for complex tenant power models and even constellations with electric vehicles.

Existing ERP systems can be standardized, integrated into our platform and used in combination with other components. [Note: ERP stands for enterprise resource planning, i.e. the planning of company resources in accordance with the object of the company]

Energy sharing models have also become a hot topic now. Can these models be integrated into your platform, too?

We refer to this as peer-to-peer trading. In the future, even nonprofessionals will be able to sell their excess electricity from their solar installation to their neighbors easily via their smartphone. This is not yet possible due to regulatory issues, but as soon as the electricity market allows, we will launch our peer-to-peer module for decentralized electricity trading. This is all a sign that the electricity market is going digital, and we want to provide the industry with the IT structures it needs.

What are your hopes for EM-Power Europe in Munich, where you will be participating as a start-up this year?

At EM-Power Europe we will meet the experts of the industry – the target group of our platform. We look forward to discussing the digitalization of the energy industry!

Start-ups @ The smarter E Europe 2024

Are you a start-up, too? Would you like to present your ideas and products for an efficient, clean and reliable power supply to a large, international audience while keeping your costs to a minimum? With its range of packages and numerous free networking opportunities, the Start-up Stage at The smarter E Europe in Munich from June 19 to 21, 2024, could be the perfect solution for you.

Apply now

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