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Estonian virtual power plant start-up GridIO raises capital from Sunly

GridIO has successfully negotiated a funding round with investment from Sunly, United Angels, Decacorn Capital and Hausers Group. GridIO was founded by Estonian energy sector experts Konrad Hanschmidt and Sandor Liive. According to co-founder & CEO Konrad Hanschmidt, the company will use the new capital to develop its technology and enter global markets starting with Finland, taking the next hurdle on its way to contribute to the decarbonising of the electrical grid.

GridIO can adjust the power consumption of its household customers’ major electrical devices such as heaters and boilers – lowering it when grids are short of power – for example when wind turbines suddenly stop due to unexpected wind conditions. This avoids power disruptions, and households get paid for the capacity freed up that way. GridIO says that it is already eyeing electric vehicle chargers and heat pumps, as the next generation of devices to integrate onto its platform and growing home ecosystem.

Starting in early 2020 and working with local households and partners, GridIO will combine electrical devices in Finland into what GridIO calls virtual power plants, using its cloud platform. These virtual plants can help balance the grid at critical moments of under- or over-supply, acting much like power plants, but faster, more intelligently, and without any CO2 emissions.

GridIO’s founders are Konrad Hanschmidt and Sandor Liive. Konrad has more than a decade of experience in clean technology analysis and advisory for various companies.  Before GridIO, he was the head of energy and technology analysis in the world’s largest resource company BHP. Before that, he led a team of carbon market analysts in the leading clean energy consultancy Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London. Sandor Liive is a leading energy executive in the Nordics and Baltics. During 2005-14, he was the CEO of Estonia’s largest utility Eesti Energia, evolving it into the most attractive employer in the country.

According to Priit Lepasepp, the CEO and founder of renewable energy company Sunly, demand response is the way forward in balancing off the volatility of sustainable power sources. “The most cost-effective way to balance it is to implement demand response,” Lepasepp says. “We believe this is the next developmental leap in the energy sector, which is also why part of Sunly’s strategy is to focus on demand response startups.”