Flex in Arabia: a lifeline

Flex in Arabia: a lifeline

On March 3rd this year, two of our team members flew over the Arabian Gulf to set foot on Dubai’s Arabian soil. Invited by Dubai utility DEWA, Peeeks has spent three weeks on the Arabian Peninsula investigating the opportunities for Flex in this city of jaw-dropping skylines and first class hospitality.

The seed for this exploration mission was planted late fall of 2016, when Peeeks was invited to compete in the DEWA Future Utility Cup: a pitch contests for ground-breaking start-ups in IoT and Energy. The Dubai Energy & Water Authority (DEWA) flew in Peeeks President of Opportunities Wouter Robers and offered him the stage for a 5-minute pitch presentation. Armed with nothing but a strong storyline, our Flex-as-a-Service concept caused a wave of excitement in the DEWA audience. Moments later, Peeeks was declared pitch-contest winner and rewarded with price money and an invitation to cooperate.

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Subsequent to the pitch contest, Peeeks and four other start-ups were invited back to Dubai for a 3 week project. Surprisingly, we found ourselves accompanied on the journey with two of our most respected YES!Delft neighbors as Bluerise and Nowi also made top 5.

During our three-week visit to Dubai, we received a warm welcome from our direct contacts: DEWA’s Demand Response team. They proved themselves experienced guides in the large network of departments known as DEWA. During the limited time we had together, the DR team committed themselves to fully understanding Peeeks’ concept and its possible impact on Dubai’s electricity system. In their capacity of custodians, they provided us with all the required introductions and set up meetings across Dubai.

We spent our limited time in the country to get to grips with the electricity climate in Dubai and the state-of-the-art in terms of grid balancing and Flex. By means of numerous meetings with government bodies and DEWA departments we have been able to truly internalize the atmosphere in terms of smart-grids and Flex in Dubai.

The largest take-away during our stay was the striking difference in electricity-dependency between the Arabian Peninsula and The Netherlands. In Dutch circumstances, a power outage is extremely annoying, costly in both the direct and indirect sense, disappointing and potentially dangerous. In Dubai, however, power outages are lethal. In a country where summer temperatures reach over 55°C and fresh water is non-existent, electricity becomes a lifeline. Without air conditioned buildings and desalinated water, no one can the scorching Arabian sun. This lesson stresses the custom approach that every country requires in their advance towards sustainable energy and, as such, the importance for flexibility providers like Peeeks to pray what we preach and offer a flexible, custom service fulfilling the local needs.

This is however no reason for the Dubai government to scare away from ambitious sustainability targets. Dubai has several sustainability roadmaps aiming at large reductions in energy consumption and pollution whilst integrating vast amounts of solar energy into their production portfolio. Sun shines every day in Dubai, and the surrounding dessert stretches far and wide providing ample space for solar parks. Unfortunately, Dubai’s consumption rate, which doubles from winter to summer, introduces Energy Transition challenges that still need answering. Simultaneously, large amounts of thermal storage in the form of cooling water is being maintained, thus creating an interesting atmosphere for Flex.

In our final Dubai days, we developed a joint plan with DEWA for a cooperative project in the near future. This successful trip has demonstrated our traction with utilities on an international level and paved the way for future cooperation with DEWA.

Peeeks helps utilities in and around Europe to balance their electricity production and consumption, by connecting flexibility of their customers.

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