Case Study

Centrica turns market volatility into a business opportunity

Renewable energy trading on Openlink Endur

Nowhere are energy markets seeing greater transformation than in Western Europe. Since 1990, fossil fuel usage for electricity across Europe has dropped more than 25 percent. Germany is looking to phase out nuclear energy by 2020.

What is filling the gap? The move to renewables. Solar, wind and tidal power are just some examples of the sources creating new supply chains. The energy supply of one power plant is being replaced by hundreds of small wind farms, and the outcrops of tidal turbines that are sprouting up on the coasts. New processes are needed to support the new operating realities.

This is precisely the challenge faced by Centrica, one of the largest energy companies in Europe, with ownership of major brands like British Gas in the United Kingdom. In spotting these underlying changes, the organization knew they needed a trading platform that could scale as their supplier base expanded.

Centrica looked to Openlink to ensure correct billing and accurate forecasting down to a half-hourly basis. As a result, they have turned market volatility into a business opportunity, and can now make decisions with unparalleled agility.

The platform encircles the organization, spanning both front- and back-office operations. From a process standpoint, it covers both origination and trading functions. This helps Centrica manage their business as they move towards a world where they are dealing more short-term power trades to offset their long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Automation had been difficult in the past, as there was little consistency from contract to contract. With the Openlink platform, the team can now design bespoke contracts using a flexible template-driven approach with drag-and-drop functionality. Based on the ease of use of the platform, a few members of the back-office team can now manage updating these templates without needing to go back to the IT department. The team is now well-placed to handle the massive growth in the number of PPAs.

To streamline the operation of the system, the Centrica team employed a grid infrastructure, which significantly reduced and improved document generation time. One indirect benefit has been an impact on the skills required to support the system: with a move from skills in specific Crystal Report generation to a broader XML base, meaning the wider team can now more easily and quickly generate reports.

As the market for renewables in Europe increases, so does the need to automate the lifecycle management of value-added structured products. The consolidation of complex products on the Openlink platform provides new opportunities and helps us deliver more efficiencies to our customers.
Rahul Malik
Head of IT, Centrica Energy Trading

Deploying the Centrica solution for document generation only took a matter of months, with the IT team working closely with Openlink throughout development and deployment. This provides Centrica with the right infrastructure to meet the higher demand for their structured product offering from energy clients within the UK and across continental Europe.

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