Zero Trace Procurement: Improving Energy Management for Clients

Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Zero Trace Procurement Limited (ZTP), an SME based in London, is an Energy Management Consultancy which specialises in assisting clients with their energy management, particularly through software design and development. Over two years, they collaborated with the University of Kent on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the core objective of developing a new risk management product that would enable ZTP to help its clients manage their energy market activity better by giving them the ability to forecast price movements and model the risk associated with their open contracts.

The Challenge

Energy management involves a range of activities centred around energy consumption required for the operations of a business. Firms enter into purchases or sales of immediate or future energy (e.g. gas or electricity) supply in the wholesale market and financial markets. ZTP sought to develop a new risk management product which would enable them to help clients manage their energy market activity better by giving them the ability to forecast price movements and model the risk associated with their open contracts.

The Approach

ZTP embarked on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Kent, of which a key element is to recruit a recently qualified postgraduate, known as an Associate, whose role is to embed new knowledge in the partner firm. The Associate, who benefits from academic supervision from the University, communicates new knowledge and developments to various stakeholders of the firm. At ZTP, the Associate appointed was Dr Chih-Yueh Huang, who worked on implementing and evaluating several machine learning and forecasting methodologies to integrate within ZTP’s new software. He also presented the findings at industry and academic conferences, and to some of ZTP’s clients, as this was an innovative new tool developed for analysing and visualizing data for energy risk management.

“By participating in the KTP, I had opportunities to apply academic theory and research to the price dynamics of energy markets, which eventually led to my taking the position of Risk System Developer and Analyst at ZTP.”

Dr Chih-Yueh Huang

The project also benefitted from the expertise of a team of Kent academics, including Professor Ekaterini Panopoulou, Dr Stella Hadjiantoni, and Dr Jaideep Oberoi from Kent Business School. Between them, these academics covered specialist research areas such as machine learning, forecasting, optimization and risk management. As well as the new knowledge developed for operational improvement of energy risk management, the project also helped transmit practical knowledge back to academia. The topic of energy risk management now plays a greater role in financial and operational risk management courses, so the academics have integrated their experience in their teaching and developed teaching materials to disseminate this more broadly.

“The KTP truly helped my colleagues and me to strengthen the practical foundations of our research and teaching and to refine our understanding of the energy risk management challenges faced by firms.”

Jaideep Oberoi.

The modelling and estimation work required was wide ranging, as ZTP is expanding into a number of global markets to be able to serve its multinational clients. The project also benefitted from Kent’s high performance computing facilities, enabling a significant speed up in obtaining and analysing results.

The Result

The project has been an overall success with the transfer of new knowledge into the development of an award-winning product named Kiveev. The product is central to ZTP’s operation for its clients, and has received considerable interest from industry. Kiveev represents a true innovation and a major step forward for the energy management industry in the UK, Europe and potentially globally.

There were many outcomes from the KTP including a dedicated one-day risk seminar for major energy companies which was very well received. ZTP has also been invited to speak at several wider events as recognised experts in the field, which shows the lasting effects of the KTP.

Managing Director of ZTP, Alex Hill, said of the project, “The energy consumption business is forever changing, especially in the realms of software design and development and ZTP is always looking to move our ideas and services forward. We were excited to be able to take on this opportunity to collaborated with The University of Kent and bring key knowledge and experience into the team. This was our first experience with a KTP and I would recommend it to any company looking to drive innovation. Working with the University of Kent has aided us in the expansion into a number of global markets leading to the ability to support clients internationally.”

A major accolade for the company was Kiveev winning the ‘Broker Initiative of the Year’ award and being shortlisted for ‘Innovation of the Year: Technology- software/Data/Digital’ at The Energy Awards, the premier energy industry event, in November 2019.