Energy traders are a less visible part of the market compared to retail and wholesale power suppliers. They exist in certain markets to bid on the constantly fluctuating price of electricity, which is useful for owners of power-generating plants to help, for example, lock in a price for electricity in the day ahead.
As more and more renewable energy comes onto the grid, energy traders, utilities, and power-generating companies have to grapple with a much more complex electricity market. Intermittent resources like wind and solar will be sold at certain times of the day, and fossil fuel-based power will be sold at other times of the day. Because some larger fossil fuel-based plants can’t just shut off at a moment’s notice and many renewable sources depend on weather, balancing supply and demand is an increasingly complicated issue. That balance is further complicated by how most markets don’t have vast energy storage resources to draw on, and electricity has to be consumed as soon as it’s made.
Tech companies are stepping in to soothe these relatively new tensions. Industrial machinery and software company General Electric recently announced new additions to its software platform Predix. With its updates, Predix will give energy traders real-time information on plant operations while also offering plant operators guidelines to help them optimize the performance of their machinery.