i.LECO: Delivering Advanced Energy Solutions to Achieve Sustainable Energy Goals
i.LECO is a young, international, and driven team with a rich historical experience of rounded and value-added complex smart energy projects and products. The company believes in the evolution towards a fully sustainable energy society. With this vision, i.LECO’s mission is to enable intelligent local energy communities through innovative software solutions to create economic and ecological value for all people and companies. In that effort, the company works on the future for people and their offspring.
Founded in April 2019, i.LECO has a long and relevant heritage from its founders in different domains. Adriaan Brebels, having 10+ years of experience in energy efficiency software from another company, along with Stefan Lodeweyckx as the “ideator” of i.LECO, who has 6+ years of smart grid energy service knowledge and currently serves as the new CEO of i.LECO and Wendy Adriaens, endowed with strong operational and sales experience.
i.LECO has grown from a couple to above 20 employees in team size. Since its inception and with this strong team, i.LECO has already achieved significant milestones in such a short span of time. The company has more than 5000 buildings under basic energy service management and is currently working on tens of different projects and customers for advanced energy services with the ultimate implementation of real operational energy communities. The company is operating its commercial services in several EU countries, including Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland, Estonia, Slowakia, and various others starting up now soon.
Integrating Innovative Technologies to Benefit Customers
From a technical perspective, i.LECO uses all cutting-edge tools/concepts and methods available and continuously works on advancing the practical state-of-the-art solutions in its domain to provide maximum value to its customers. The company’s software suite consists of advanced implementations of various machine learning algorithms combined with big data/cloud infrastructure/techniques and mixed with blockchain-based elements. i.LECO can span the complexity from device-level interfacing (IoT) towards reliable mass-market service delivery and user interfacing, which is needed to be able to deliver energy communities software services. On paper, this seems achievable, but in practice, both in-depth technological component-level and broad market-level years of experience are needed to achieve real results, which is what i.LECO is doing as a forefront runner on this new emerging domain within the energy transition.
From a value perspective, the company is bringing a multi-stacked value stream which is dependent from customer to customer. Examples are up till 35% energy savings, 10%+ reduction on energy costs via advanced and automatic energy trading, peek capacity management and others. From an energy community perspective, as i.LECO is in its early stage; it is proving various value drivers towards both the participants and the key market actors, including the DSOs. These later require alternative ways to manage their network better in a fast-changing full electrified and green energy world. Congestion management, which is known to reduce and defer network enforcement CAPEX investments, is the primary driver of value on that end and is currently adopted into the i.LECO LES (Layered Energy System) Energy Community software suite.
Driving Innovation Through Customer and Technology
Stefan says, “Continuous innovation and pushing the limits of technology to achieve the best possible results for our customers is key. To support that, we engage on EU funded project level for long-term roadmap goals and align with key customers to allow early PoCs in reality with advanced technology and then roll-out further across the baseline services we have set up with them. Also, working with some academic partners allows us to get very early insight into longer-term technological trends and possibilities, and we sometimes then foster that in combined Ph.D. engagements between ourselves and certain universities.”
Winning Real-World Industry Challenges
The road towards the final vision is never smooth, and as usual, Stefan believes that overcoming obstructions positively, one can pave the way for success. In its short period, i.LECO has experienced one of the biggest challenges that humanity has encountered in recent years, i.e., Covid-19. Recent scientific studies show the presence of a high correlation between areas with severe air pollution and higher Covid-19 mortality rates. This is yet another piece of the puzzle supporting the necessity for a cleaner and more sustainable world. i.LECO has managed to overcome and even further grow during this period, thanks to its strong belief in the bigger problem of climate change and the much-needed energy transition that over-arches big black-swan effects like Covid-19. From that perspective, Stefan’s motivation and drive have been crucial in building and maintaining strong customer relationships which can overcome such events. He has already been driving the change required in this industry as of the conception in 2013 of his previous startup Enervalis, which now is in scale-up mode. He keeps that persistence and motivation towards the i.LECO team which helps in achieving the company’s BHAGs (Big Hairy and Audacious Goals).
Leading the Industry with Key Alliance and Accolades
i.LECO is delighted to have excellent relationships with the key players in Energy Communities, e.g., the DSOs (Distribution Service Operators), which operate the low and mid-voltage parts of the electrical networks. In that context, the recent winning of the Enpuls challenge has been a tremendous fulfilling milestone and recognition for i.LECO. Enpuls is the innovation group from one of the three biggest Dutch DSOs. By partnering with Enexis, i.LECO aims to show the value and expanding its initial Energy Community software suite from another big Dutch DSO (STEDIN) in the Enexis area.
i.LECO has also been entrusted with several innovative EU funded projects, which highlight that the company is at the cutting-edge of energy services. DeelDeZon, for instance, is one of those projects (others will be disclosed by the end of 2020 via i.LECO website) in which the company has partnered to perform advanced energy management services on V2G assets.
Within the final goal of enabling Energy Communities via the usage of advanced software; i.LECO helps customers to assess the viability and value of advanced energy services through simulations/advice and then move towards implementation on asset/building level to transfer into aggregated energy community-level services. Finally, the energy communities should run in a proper Software as a Service model to allow customers to switch and participate in local energy community initiatives easily.
As another practical example, Sweco, one of the biggest engineering companies in the EU, uses i.LECO’s software to manage and reduce the energy consumption of their customers’ buildings in the portfolio in the Netherlands. They are now evolving from i.LECO’s base software towards its advanced energy service suite.
The Future of Energy
Stefan believes more people and companies will become aware that they can participate actively towards a more sustainable energy mix and understand that doing this together will be better than an individual. He says the bigger the overall climate and market impact, the bigger opportunity it poses for i.LECO. All key factors are showing up in early indicators, allowing the Energy Community segment to start its growth curve in the next years, clearly supported by European directives with ambitious climate goals and bottom-up willingness to be part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem.