Meet Jim van Oosten – Our Product Manager of Powerplan

Our product manager Jim in front of a battery

Jim van Oosten has been working on the energy management software Powerplan for five years. In this interview he explains where he had the idea for Powerplan, what the software does and tells us about his published research article.

How would you describe your role at Greener?

“My role at Greener changes sometimes and can be quite diverse, however, my most important part is being the Product Manager of the power management software. My main task is therefore to develop the software as much as possible. I do this by ensuring that there are enough test clients, who give feedback on the software, as well as by managing software developers and programming myself. So, we basically always have a cycle of developing, testing with clients, receiving their feedback, implementing the feedback and starting from the beginning again.”

The goal for Powerplan is to build a universal model, so everyone can easily plan and manage their energy supply based on data.

Where did the idea for Powerplan come from?

“We started working on Powerplan about 5 years ago. At the time we heard that the energy supply at events is not efficient. We then looked at the energy set-up and saw that more often than not diesel generators, which are two to five times bigger than necessary are used at events. And we still see that today if you look at the actual energy consumption in comparison to the energy supply. This is of course very bad because diesel generators already work quite inefficiently. Due to the overcapacity more money is spent and the impact on the environment is bigger. So, we wanted to find a solution to use as little as possible (and at best no) diesel fuel with as little as possible material. The only way to accomplish this is to collect as much data as possible from beforehand to be able to forecast the energy consumption and in turn necessary energy supply. Therefore, we started with the development of Powerplan.”

How does Powerplan work?

“As just mentioned, we developed Powerplan based on data for forecasting of energy consumption for events. The software is used to collect all the information of all the different power users. This includes for instance what kind of appliances they use, what kind of plug they use, when they want to use electricity, etc. Afterwards, all information is fed into a model, which combines the data with our database which contains hundreds of actual measurements from previous events and uses all the combined data to forecast the energy consumption. The more data we can supply to the model, the more precise is the forecast since the model is continuously learning. An example is our project for the Theaterfestival Boulevard ‘s-Hertogenbosch, where the collected data showed that the small grid connection of 160 ampere would be sufficient for the expected energy consumption in combination with two batteries. Therefore, no request for a bigger grid connection was necessary, which saves time and money. The goal for Powerplan is to build a universal model, so everyone can easily plan and manage their energy supply based on data.”

What differentiates Powerplan from other software in the market?

“The uniqueness of Powerplan is that there is no other software, which can produce these kinds of forecasts for temporary energy supply. For stationary energy supply, some optimalisation programs are available, but these models cannot be used for temporary energy supply and do not include extensive forecasting. The combination of forecasting and the optimization of the energy supply is therefore unique and specific for the events sector. Since every event is different and includes many different power users, this software is perfect for those use cases. There could be other use cases outside of events, but our focus has been on events until now.”

Your research on the model has also been published in a scientific paper. Can you describe the research shortly and tell us where we can find it?

“Sure. When I was working at my previous company Watt-now we were measuring the energy consumption in comparison to the supply. I used all the data for my thesis of my Energy Science Master. I developed a model, which calculates the optimal set-up of energy sources based on forecasted or historic data for the application in question. And I have also published this in a scientific article in the Journal of Sustainable Development. At the time of writing this article, diesel generators were more widely used, but batteries were not yet profitable. This has changed and therefore the model shown in the article would need to be extended with new energy sources. So, the model identifies which energy sources you should use, as well as how you should manage the different sources during the time of use. During the research, I also taught myself on how to code and program.”

Read the full research article here.