Hackathon: Electricity demand management in homes and small businesses

The UK’s electricity system is under increasing pressure to keep up with the ever growing electricity demand.

Climate-KIC’s Climate Market Accelerator supports a £50,000 prize to drive innovation in this field.

Increased use of decentralised renewable energy generation adds complexity to the problem. Dynamic demand, or demand side response (DSR) allows supply and demand to be managed more efficiently by shifting electricity consumption away from peak hours where electricity consumption is high, or enables greater usage of electricity generation from renewables. It also helps maximise the use of a smart infrastructure.

With the support of Climate-KIC, Nesta’s Centre for Challenge Prizes, in partnership with the Climate-KIC partner National Physical Laboratory’s Centre for Carbon Measurement, has launched the Dynamic Demand Challenge Prize.

The Challenge

“Create a new product, technology or service that utilises data to significantly improve the ability of households or small businesses to demonstrate measurable reduction in carbon emissions by shifting energy demand to off peak times or towards excess renewable generation.”

A total of 76 entries were made from some 8 countries, including UK, Germany, Spain and Belarus amongst others. The proposed solutions ranged from software and apps, to physical products and technologies.

Of the 76 applicants, nine semi-finalists were selected to compete for a place as a finalist. 

The Hack event

The nine semi-finalists were invited to a Hackathon, hosted by Climate-KIC partner Imperial College London on 18 and 19 October 2013. The aim of this was for the semi-finalists to ‘hack’ their ideas into more developed, robust prototypes or ideas.

The semi-finalists were supported by business coaches from Climate-KIC but also scientists from the National Physical Laboratory and experts from Imperial College London. Industry representatives from National Grid and other market players further helped to feed into the thought process.

At the end of the 36 hour event, the semi-finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of judges, where five ideas were chosen to go on to the next stage of the Challenge.

A short film about the Hackathon:

Five Finalists

The finalists go on to develop their ideas over a six-month period with £10,000 funding from Nesta, an independent charity that works to increase the innovation capacity of the UK, and ongoing support from National Physical Laboratory scientists and business advice from a select group of experts, facilitated by Climate-KIC and Imperial College London.

The finalists that demonstrate the most significant impact in shifting demand to off peak times and or towards renewable generation, combined with a reduction in carbon emissions, will be awarded the Prize and receive £50,000. The announcement will take place in June 2014.