jbp.io Archive
28 June 2014

How to monetise the IoT through energy markets

Let’s assume for a moment you are an IoT company like Nest, controlling1 a chunk of devices which use energy. The more energy demand at your behest, the better: HVAC, refrigerators and heating are excellent choices.

Your business model is probably a mix of hardware sales and cloud services. But you’re missing a trick: you should also capitalise on your extant control of energy demand. Here’s how:

  1. Buy electricity options.
  2. Spike price by increasing power demand for a few minutes.
  3. Sell sell sell!

This is obviously risky, unethical, and perhaps illegal. But the IoT is largely about disregarding risks. The financial services industry are typically comfortable with the other downsides, so you may wish to partner with a trading firm.

There are already emergent phenomena in the power grid: a certain soap opera in the UK is associated with a 0.5-1.3GW demand spike (normal demand is around 30GW). But predictable events like this don’t give you any valuable advantage against the rest of the market.

There are a variety of refinements to this basic idea:

  1. Direct or indirect. It doesn’t much matter if they can control things remotely, or can sign a firmware update to add that capability.