„With Qlik Sense we have in view any time, whether everything what is delivered was also subtracted. “
Andreas Klopp, leading IT & processes, bmp greengas
Germany's largest biomethane trader bmp greengas deals with over two terawatt hours of biomethane annually. The company's range of services includes solutions for biomethane transport, balancing, and supply. The company, which has been part of Erdgas Südwest GmbH since the beginning of 2017, is a founding member of the biogas register of the German Energy Agency (dena), and provides its customers with the biogas register certification of biomethane quantities and qualities for injection and withdrawal in the German natural gas grid.
The trade in biomethane has some special features compared to the trade in traditional, fossil natural gas: For proof of origin certification in accordance with the Renewable Energy Sources Act, providing the invoice of the biomethane supplier is not sufficient. For each of the different levels of remuneration, the appropriate certificate from an environmental verifier is required. This means that there is a wider variety of products in biomethane trading than what you have in traditional natural gas trading. The different qualities of biogas are subsidised at different rates of remuneration in accordance with the Renewable Energy Sources Act. For example, combined heat and power plants that generate electricity using biomethane from renewable raw materials (renewable biomethane) get more compensation for each kilowatt hour generated than an otherwise identical combined heat and power plant that uses biomethane from biogenic residues. In the balancing group, however, the individual qualities cannot be differentiated, one kilowatt hour of biomethane from renewables and one kilowatt hour of biomethane from residues simply appear as two kilowatt hours of biomethane. Special features not found in natural gas trading are, for example, a flexibility framework and a balancing cycle period of one year instead of one day.
Due to these special features, existing IT solutions for trading in biomethane are of only very limited usefulness. This was also the experience of bmp greengas, as Andreas Klopp, Head of IT & Processes at bmp greengas GmbH, explains: "What we lacked was an integrated IT structure that allowed us to map all our business activities. We developed our own multi-stage process just for the proof of origin certification, which maps the entire path from the generation to the use of the biogas. In addition, we have balancing group management, forecasting and sales expectations. Data on these three fields comes together and is managed in a database. In addition, market data from energy data management systems as well as financial accounting figures must be covered. "
First, an attempt was made to introduce an ERP solution used for natural gas trading, which proved to be too inflexible.
Thanks to his many years of experience in business intelligence, Klopp came up with the idea that saved the day: "If there was no ERP system per se that we could use, then we needed to connect the existing systems in a smart way so that they would function like an ERP system." The data from the various subsystems needed to be validated and integrated into an IT system, in order be able to analyze the data in detail and to check the data sets against each other there. If all the data is available there, enterprise reporting can also be realized.
The right tool for both cross-system data consolidation as well as analysis and reporting was quickly found, as Klopp reports: "In the past I had had very good experiences with QlikView in another company, so we decided to use Qlik products in this case, too, but in the more modern version Qlik Sense, which is more forward-looking in terms of visualization in our view."
Also regarding the implementation, Klopp relied on a partner he was familiar with: "I had very successfully implemented a BI project in the field of medical controlling with COSMO CONSULT BI. As luck would have it, in addition to medical technology, the energy field is also one of COSMO CONSULT’s areas of expertise. I also knew that the BI consultants could quickly familiarize themselves with new topics. We are part of the overall energy market, but have very special needs. It was thus clear to me that I should rely on COSMO CONSULT BI from Würzburg for this project, too."
It quickly became clear that the decision was the right one, both in terms of product and implementation partner: After only six weeks, the bio-energy analytics tool BEAT, as bmp greengas called its Qlik Sense-based analysis and reporting solution, was ready for use.
BEAT is used in numerous areas - such as sales, portfolio management and purchasing, in balancing group management, financial accounting and billing, as well as in trade controlling.
Among other things, analysis applications are available for biomethane quantities (purchase and sale), qualities, sales and costs, including apportionments and balancing groups (allocation, injection and withdrawal, minimum quantity adjustment, flexibility framework, etc.).
The reporting platform Qlik NPrinting automatically provides employees with various reports. These include, for example, a report to determine the stock value for the profit and loss accounting, a monthly report to create monthly interim invoices of customers taking delivery at a physical exit point, a report to create the monthly invoice payments of customers taking delivery at a virtual trading point, and the invoicing of the various allocations from the energy industry.
The use of Qlik Sense allows bmp greengas to have a transparent view of all data across system boundaries and provides additional security in the fundamental question of whether everything delivered has also been billed for: Additional verification mechanisms allow the billing values to be compared with the values of the other systems easily. Using Qlik Sense for bmp greengas also "paid off" right from the beginning, reports Klopp: "Using Qlik Sense we discovered a booking error. The resulting inventory correction saved us real cash - more than enough to cover the initial costs of Qlik Sense."
"We are improving BEAT on an ongoing basis," says Klopp. "Currently, we are adding additional ancillary product costs and allocations to the mapping of balancing group management, for example. Our goal is improved forecasting of consumption and associated costs."