Exploring the public interest in smart energy data

New publications set out clear challenge to realise potential

15 March 2016

How might the imminent explosion of household smart-meter energy data best be used in the public interest?  This was the topic of a research challenge set by the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Sustainability First last summer with funding from TEDDINET.

The two resulting papers were published today (15 March 2016), following an expert stakeholder workshop in London on 10 March which explored their findings.

The first paper, by UCL’s Simon Elam, looks at the possible public value of the data from a top-down, national perspective. To complement this, the second paper, by Jess Britton at University of Exeter, explores a devolved, regional and local perspective. Tailored consumer advice, evidence to improve policy, and better targeted and distributed interventions to support for vulnerable consumers are some of the uses of this data anticipated by both authors

Simon Roberts, CSE’s Chief Executive, co-chaired the expert workshop: “We set this research challenge because current discussion on smart energy data has so far been largely bound by opportunities for commercial exploitation. However, as these papers show, once the smart meter technology is in place the resulting data has huge potential for applications in the public interest.

“We need to make sure the investment in the smart meter system we’re all making through our energy bills enables this potential to be realised. Of course it needs to satisfy commercial interests to secure investment, but we’ll lose out if we aren’t taking steps to ensure it is also applied to serve wider societal goals,” Simon continued.

CSE has been exploring this issue at city-scale through the Bristol Smart Energy City Collaboration which reported on progress at the end of 2015. This initiative is establishing how a city should organise to use smart energy data to support local energy schemes, to target energy efficiency improvements and to plan and develop infrastructure for heat generation, housing development and electric vehicles.

To find out more about the TEDDINET research challenge and diverse data uses discussed in the papers, take a look here.

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