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8 years with Connected Energy: Roger Tudor and Paul Bristow

Connected Energy software engineers, Roger Tudor and Paul Bristow joined the company eight years ago this month. 


How it began

Roger: Before joining Connected Energy, we were both at Lotus Engineering. In 2013 we began working on an energy storage demonstrator project, named EVEREST. The project brought a range of partners together, including what is now Connected Energy. The aim was to prove the concept of energy storage using different second life automotive batteries.

A key part of the project was integrating the batteries into a single point of control as an energy store. As well as batteries the test site had a wind turbine with solar for power generation and a bank of EV charges for high demand loads.

Paul: Up until that point, our roles had been focussed purely on automotive engineering, so this was a departure for us both. But it had become clear to Lotus that, with the rise of EVs, they would need to invest in charging infrastructure on site. However, there was a known grid constraint issue in the North Norfolk area that led to the desire to investigate alternative options.

Roger: The project used multiple types of batteries and our role was to develop a control system that would communicate with them separately whilst ultimately treating them as a single asset through a central controller. It led to us gaining a huge amount of experience and creating what was really the Mark 1 of our product today.

Paul: There were some real challenges in those early days. Not least that we needed to prove that we could develop different battery level controllers that could be integrated with one single master power delivery controller.

Roger: We did all this without any instruction manual, there wasn’t one. But we were focussed on compressing all the communications data that we had, from a range of different batteries, into one system as well as handling the speed of response.

Paul: After the project successfully completed, we joined Connected Energy. At that point, there were only seven employees.

Roger: The magnificent seven founder members as we liked to call ourselves. Paul and I were the original members of the software team.

Paul: The company then set out to develop a larger prototype for a commercial system and our role was to develop the brains of that system using a single different controller.


Roger: I think one of my finest moments in the last eight years was the first time we generated 1MW of power from a system. In 2018, a project with Engie gave us the opportunity to install our largest unit yet at the Umicore site in Belgium. There was so much riding on that project – to show that we could integrate eight independent stacks of batteries together and generate that amount of power. I feel it was a major milestone for the company.

Paul: Reducing the response times of the system has been a major highlight for me. We spent a lot of time during COVID, when we were working at home, using Raspberry Pi’s as emulators to optimise the real-time code within our control system. The aim was to speed up response times so that our systems were able to be used in the Dynamic Containment grid services response market. This new service required response time dropping from 2sec to 250msec.

This meant we had to reprioritise tasks substantially in order to respond really quickly to any change in power demand whilst monitoring battery status. It was another milestone in our product development and allows our customers to make revenue from their systems. It was a real sense of achievement when we upgraded the software in our unit at the Hold in 2022 and proceeded to pass the acceptance test.

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Growth of the company

Roger: The company has grown and adapted over the last eight years, but the ethos hasn’t changed – we’re all still working towards the same goals and end results. We feel passionate about our work to repurpose EV batteries and make a product that brings benefits to our customers.

Paul: Now we have two roles, making sure that our existing customers are happy and adapting our current product line to keep up with their requirements.

Roger: But with an eye to the future. We’re upscaling our product so this means we need to amplify what we’re doing now using new next generation controllers. This brings huge complexities – we need to adapt our control systems to ensure that they are appropriate for multi-MW systems – but it’s hugely rewarding work. We have certainly learnt that getting a system to work is only half the story. Designing effective diagnostic strategies becomes ever more vital and clearly the bigger the proposed system, the more benefit that they can bring.

Paul: We’ve become experts at integrating batteries and we’re in a good position to evolve with the market.

Roger Tudor is Connected Energy’s Technical Manager, responsible for the development of our control software as well as working directly with customers to programme and support the system once installed.

Paul Bristow is Connected Energy’s Principal Software Engineer, responsible for overseeing software performance, network communications, and analysing system data.

To find out more about our systems click here.

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