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Interview with Hervé Huisman from Gradyent

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Gradyent is an energy analytics solution company based in the Netherlands. Gradyent has developed a unique Artificial Intelligence (AI) cloud platform that optimizes the heating efficiency, design, and management of district energy networks.

Passionate about making sustainable impacts globally, Hervé Huisman is the Co-Founder and CEO of Gradyent. He has a background in strategy and operations within the energy and high-tech sector.

In the following interview, Hervé and his team recently offered more insight into their innovative AI system.

1.     Give us a brief origins story for your company, how you and your founding members got started.

The concept of Gradyent was created by Robert Vrancken – now our CTO. He worked as a consultant in the energy sector on projects related to digitization. He always jokes that the idea of Gradyent did not come about in a very spectacular manner; while sitting on a couch in his living room he wondered: “Why not do something with AI and district heating?”. After several months of testing this idea in the market, Robert came across Freek Smelt. At the time Freek had his own small district heating company and was immediately triggered by the idea. After this, the concept rapidly became more concrete and two other co-founders were added to the team: Pieter Broekema and myself.

From the start, we were in touch with two of the largest district heating companies in The Netherlands and soon we were working for them – enabling us to really fine-tune our product with input from their teams.

2.     Which countries do you have clients in? What type of outreach would you like to achieve over the next five years?

We have been focusing on the Netherlands so far, but have recently started working on some data from companies in Eastern Europe as well. In the coming years, we want to focus on Europe. Germany, the Nordics, and Eastern Europe are very important district heating markets. With our recent funding round, we are now also able to extend our organisation into those areas.

3.     Can you give a simple explanation of how your AI system works and the main differences with traditional district heating management?

In short: we have developed a unique “adaptive digital twin” model which is a very effective foundation to optimize the design, expansion, and operation of heating networks.

Let me give some context to that. District heating design and management systems have in common that they need a digital model of the network to know which combination of parameters would create the desired output. More and more heating companies are looking for these systems to optimize their networks. However, the traditional systems are static, complex, and virtually impossible to keep up to date.

Our solution solves this by combining thermodynamic and hydraulic modelling with AI in a cloud-based solution. Our model is “self-learning” and can always accurately show things like demand, temperature, flow, and pressure. Not only in the present but also the past and – through our advanced forecasting module – also 24 hours ahead. This information is critically important for any person or system making control or design decisions for a network and wants to prevent undersupply in case of rapidly changing demand.

4.     Your website touts a 3-5% efficiency in improved heat. How does this translate in terms of reduced carbon emissions, say if such a system was implemented EU wide?

The total potential in Europe is around 1.5Mton CO2 annual reduction. This number is based on the more efficient operation of existing systems. However, our smart controls and resulting temperature reductions can also enable deployment of more sustainable heat sources such as geothermal or solar – which would further increase the impact.

5.     What can we look forward to from Gradyent for the rest of 2020?

We will be much more active and present in the European market and prepare ourselves for further roll-out in Europe. We would love to get in touch with heating companies to better understand their challenges and needs! Interested parties can contact us via our website