"Flex is een bijproduct"

Our business models and products go beyond selling flexibility services

Some key messages from the article

"Flex is a side product"
"Five years ago, we started Peeeks with the idea: give us your flex, we'll give you back euros," says Peeeks CEO, Lucas. Peeeks focuses mainly on the consumer market. Their best-known product are smart boilers. These are managed to reduce the peak production of wind and solar farms by heating extra water at precisely those moments. However, the sale of only flex does not appear to have been the golden idea that the founders thought they had in their hands. "The price for flex services is now under pressure, but with the growth of solar and wind production, the energy industry can be happy, that there are enough flexibility services at hand.”

Lucas still believes that demand management will play an important role in the future. Yet, the few euros that this earns, does not convince citizens to get a smart control module for their boiler. "The one with the device doesn't think flex is important. He or she finds it important that there is always hot water. If you can even increase comfort while balancing the national grid, that's better then." Smart control can include many more benefits. And this is what the company now focuses on. Understanding the households and their needs is the key to the Peeeks formula, emphasizes CEO Lukas: "The concept only works if the household finds it interesting. The total proposition has to be right – the owner of the asset has to be happy with more comfort, less energy costs, and more insight."

Focus on residential market, behind-the-meter
Peeeks joined forces with Crowdnett and Ampard, a supplier for smart energy management software for batteries and residential solar power production. This will lead to synergy benefits, says Dirk-Jan Middelkoop, manager business development Peeeks and previously responsible for Crowdnett. The aim is to develop scalable solutions for all types of energy devices: boilers, heat pumps, charging stations, etcetera. The focus on smart management of residential assets has consequences for Peeeks' other revenue model. The company is stopping the smart management of wind farms, even tough this was a lucrative business for the young company so far. "I believe in behind the meter," says Lucas. "Wind is a nice model, but not for us."

Thinking beyond electricity
Electricity clearly has the biggest share in flex services, but Peeeks does not stop there. The company is also doing smart control of district heating networks. Traditionally, each household regulates its own heat demand with a thermostat, which results in a peak demand when people get up in the morning or come home in the evening. "With more parameters and smart algorithms, you can reduce those peaks and still keep the house warm at the right time," says Lucas. "You could, for example, heat well-insulated houses earlier.” Cloud based, smart and centralized control of heat in thousands of households can make traditional power plants, that only run for peak hours and thus are usually the flexible but environmental un-friendly coal-fired power stations, obsolete.

The engineers of Peeeks are also thinking about gas. "Think of a hybrid heat pump, one that runs on electricity but can switch to gas in moments of high demand peaks," says manager Middelkoop. "This is yet another form of flexibility."

We would like to thank Katrijn de Ronde from energeia for this insightful interview!