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https://innovateuk.blog.gov.uk/2019/10/21/the-new-holy-grail-of-energy/

The new holy grail of energy

We used to talk about the three D’s of energy. The global mega trends of decarbonisation, decentralisation, and digitalisation.

Over the last few years we’ve seen a few more D’s enter the fray…democratisation, disruption, deregulation. You’d be forgiven for adding a few more of late…dystopian, disputatious, dysphoric, demoralising, doddering?

Hands touching a star of light on glitter bright lights colorful background.

The new holy grail

But there is one D that we can all agree on. The new holy grail of energy. Data. Open data and modernising energy data access to be specific.

Data is the single biggest enabler of a decarbonised, decentralised and digitised energy future. It’s the tool that will bridge the gap between where we are now vs. where we need to be to achieve net zero. It is how we can redesign the entire energy market.

A blue back ground showing an outline of a head with an image of a padlock inside the head with data points in the foreground, indicating a data security mindset.

Security mindset

Yes, there are risks. So, a security mindset is essential, one that doesn’t just incorporate issues of cyber security or critical national infrastructure. We need appropriate and proportionate measures to deter and/or disrupt hostile, malicious, fraudulent and criminal behaviours or activities.

We must incorporate security-mindedness into the process of enabling digital information exchange. We must focus on how the need to provide visibility of, and ease of access to, energy data is balanced against the need to protect related sensitive information.

And crucially, we must be aware of how the sensitivities which may arise from aggregation (using pieces of a data jigsaw to make a picture) are managed properly. A security mindset is a non negotiable.

Now let’s focus on the potential benefits.

High rise tower blocks at night with windows lit up against night sky showing data in the form of 0's and 1's over the whole skyline.

Building the foundation

Innovate UK, OFGEM and BEIS have been working to develop a competition that challenges innovators to modernise energy data access for all.

We are looking for a capability that helps businesses to ingest data at their leisure, supporting energy data from multiple sources/formats and enabling new applications that deliver greater value to consumers.

It’s like the IOS operating system was to the iphone. It was the foundation to everything else. We are building the beginnings of an app store for energy. If the risks are managed properly, the opportunities for innovation and consumer value are enormous.

Benefits

The potential benefits sit in three core buckets: supporting more agile regulation (helping OFGEM to do their job more effectively), more informed policy (helping BEIS to make commitments based on data insights), and prompting an exponential increase in new consumer applications (products that haven’t yet been invented).

Home energy smart meter in a kitchen, indicating energy consumption.

How we can use data

But energy is just the first step. Once a common mechanism is developed for the architecture, data from multiple sectors and industries can flow in, helping to leverage energy, transport, construction and finance data in new ways which deliver new value propositions to consumers.

We could even use data to redesign the energy market entirely, increasing efficiency, renewables utilisation and ensure the system operates with insight. Smart systems can become a reality.

Building momentum

There has been an immense build of momentum from the Energy Data Taskforce, Energy Systems Catapult, Innovate UK plus significant activity from the construction sector via the Centre for Digital Built Britain and many others.

A wave has been building, and we are calling on all digital businesses to get involved.

modern city skyline with tower blocks and mesh network data concept in the foreground over the sea. Set against a background of clouds and world map.

Modern Energy Data Access Competition

So, what are we doing exactly? We are launching a Modernising Energy Data Access competition. It is 100% funded. It will be highly competitive. We only want the best businesses to step forward. It is a three-phase competition following the Government Digital Services framework.

Phase one is open to everyone but only three companies will be selected.

  1. Phase 1 will fund 3 discovery contracts. A total of up to £480,000, is allocated to phase 1, focussing on feasibility studies. Of the three companies selected for phase 1, only two companies will be selected for phase 2
  2. Phase 2 will fund two alpha contracts to develop and field test prototypes. A total of £520,000 is allocated to phase 2. Of the two companies selected for phase 2, only one company will be selected for phase 3
  3. Phase 3 is for a private beta contract to develop the solution, including detailed field testing with real end users, using real data. A total of £900,000, including VAT, is allocated to phase 3

A field of blue solar panels contrasting with strip of green field.

How to apply

If you have the capabilities to deliver the kind of solution that we have described, please apply and check out the webcast from the launch event. Good luck!

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