What started as a quite futuristic sounding university project, followed by a Master's thesis just a few years back, has today become the very core of Tibber - and Jacobs dayjob. He is also one of the guys who make sure Tibber always buys the right amount of electricity every day. We threw a bunch of questions at Jacob so you could get to know him a little better.
'Meet the Tribe' is a series of articles where we get to know the faces behind the app, analytics, user experience, sustainability, PR, support and engineering at Tibber.
Name: Jacob Dalton
Works with: Trading & Home Energy Management
Office location: Stockholm
Comes from: Australia
Dream job as a child: astronaut/pilot
Weirdest habit: Usually showers with slippers on. He says he doesn’t want to get the bottom of his feet dirty when leaving the shower before going to a clean bed.
First of all Jacob, what gives you energy in life?
Having a good routine, including yoga and meditation. Running in nature, swimming in nature, partying in nature or in general just being in nature. Laughing and being with friends & family.
What did you do before joining Tibber?
Back in Australia I was a civil engineer working in project management on construction sites. It wasn’t always easy to be the young graduate walking around with a clipboard telling much older and experienced people what they should do - I quickly learnt a lot about how to ensure people understood you’re ‘on the same team’. Despite the stunning view over Sydney harbour on the construction deck, the industry didn’t prioritise sustainability enough for me to want to stay around for long. In fact I was often teased for being an eco-warrior. 😄
How did you become a part of the Tibber Tribe?
I left Australia to study a masters in sustainable energy engineering at KTH in Stockholm. As part of a university project where my group screened 50 european energy startups - Tibber ended up on the top of the list. When it was time to write a thesis, clearly Daniel (Tibber co-founder) was the first I emailed. I wrote the thesis for Tibber where we looked at using electric vehicles to balance the grid. Daniel and Ed liked the results and I’ve been making the idea a reality ever since.
You work in Trading and Home Energy Management. What exactly does that mean?
Short answer: Tibber is an electricity retail company, so somebody has to buy the energy from the market. That’s us. Then we want to enable our customers to use that energy in the most optimal way, for example knowing when to smart charge their EV or using smart heating in their home. That’s also us.
Long answer: There are a few sides of this.
First trading: Every day, 365 days a year Tibber needs to buy electricity from the Nord Pool day ahead market (meaning we buy energy everyday, for the following day). To do that we make models that forecast how much electricity our customers will use. We will never be perfect and the error (difference between what we bought and how much our customers actually consume) will often incur a cost. Therefore we work on improving our models to reduce this error. This is critical for enabling Tibber to grow and continue to have one of the best offers in the market. Then home energy management: We want to know when is the best time to consume energy in order to lower the cost for the end user, but still making sure that the EV is always fully charged in the morning and the house is always warm. This is done through an optimization algorithm that determines when charging/heating should occur.
What is the main difference between Tibber and traditional electricity companies when it comes to trading?
Many traditional electricity companies need to protect their profits by trading in the financial power markets to limit their exposure to risk (something known as hedging). Tibber on the other hand makes zero profit from electricity retail as we directly pass on the hourly wholesale electricity price to our customers. Therefore we don’t have to worry about protecting any profits by hedging against a negative change in the market price.
We don’t do it at scale yet, but soon, as well as trading power, we will be trading “flexibility”. That is to say controlling consumption like electric vehicles and heaters in a way that balances and stabilizes the electricity grid. This is a key missing piece in the puzzle towards a 100% renewable energy system and Tibber has been an absolute pioneer in terms of filling this missing piece in a way that nobody else does.
How does a normal work day look like for you?
Much of the time I spend writing code in the form of control algorithms for our demand response or “flexibility” services.
I also work closely with the others in the trading/HEM team and look ahead at what needs to be prioritised. We continuously try to improve our performance in trading and also do our best to ensure there is never a day where Tibber fails to buy electricity, which would be a big problem (for Tibber: we will incur a huge cost - nothing practically will change for the end user, they will always have electricity).
On that note, what was the weirdest situation that ever happened at work?
During one of our demand response pilots, Tibber was often “activated” to deliver a grid balancing service by switching off thousands of chargers and heaters. On numerous occasions everything went smoothly, one time however something broke 🙈 and I was forced to call the Norwegian national grid’s control room (one of those rooms with 15 screens and flashing lights and buttons everywhere) at 01:00am in the middle of the night to inform the operators that we had f**cked up. It was such a small volume in the scale of a whole country that it didn’t affect anything at all, but still it was a bit scary (and a little exciting at the same time) - hopefully it will be the first and last time we’ll have to do that.
What do you like best about your job at Tibber?
I love being on the absolute forefront of the energy transition. Some of what we do today, most people think is years away in the future. I truly believe that we at Tibber are literally accelerating the transition to a more sustainable society, and that is very cool.
What do you think is the future of the energy industry?
The fulfillment of the 4 D’s: decentralized, decarbonized, digitized and democratized. Basically what Tibber is an embodiment of.
If you were to choose a movie character, who would you be?
I do get Jack Sparrow a lot, but I’m not sure I would choose to be a drunk pirate. So if it was my choice, Viggo Mortensen's character, the dad in captain fantastic.
Do you want to be a part of the Tibber Tribe? Check out our careers page for open positions ⚡️