Using data from across sectors – enabling it to be open, discoverable and easily linked – is key to helping decarbonise the energy system and protect consumers, while reaching towards the Government’s net zero carbon emissions goal.
On 31 January and 1 February, Ofgem and Valtech held a hackathon to explore how we can use data to tackle the climate emergency. A hackathon is an event where anyone interested in a particular subject can come together to solve problems using data.
Here you can view slides on the projects developed at the hackathon.
About the hackathon
The hackathon was open to people from all disciplines - creatives, UX/UI/URs, developers, BAs, data engineers, data scientists, as well as people with industry knowledge interested in using technology and data to solve the climate emergency.
We formed six teams, and each competed to develop insights and a project proposal to answer key climate change questions, such as:
- How can we decarbonise the UK faster?
- Which renewable power sources do we need within each region to reduce our carbon emissions with minimal biodiversity impact?
- Do smart meters reduce energy demand?
We used the Ofgem data environment to anonymise and securely hold datasets for use at the hackathon across the following areas:
- Ofgem – Energy Company Obligation (ECO3) installation data
- Electralink - switching and embedded generation data
- Met Office - Climate and Weather data
- Comparison tech - Electric Vehicle and Retail Domestic tariff data
- Smart DCC - Smart meter installation data
- Elexon - Balancing and settlement data
- BEIS – National Energy Efficiency data
We also used open-source data, including open-APIs from National Grid and Ordinance Survey, and open Elexon data.
What did we learn?
We awarded a winning and runner up project based on the creativeness of the output, and how effectively it linked data to give a solution to tackle climate change. You can download details on each of the project ideas below.
- WINNER: Renewable Source Locations. The team identified where renewable energy sources should be located to maximise electricity generation. They used the Electralink embedded generation data combined with the Met Office data. They showcased that the installation of solar panels is not well correlated with the amount of sunlight across the UK. They hypothesised that this could be applied to other renewable installations and combined with land use to understand the most effective locations for renewable electricity generation.
- RUNNER UP: Electric Vehicle Dashboard. The team identified that electric vehicles could optimise how energy is consumed when charging their vehicle. This primarily used the Energyhelpline tariff data. They created a vehicle dashboard which would encourage the uptake of electric vehicles, giving confidence to the consumer that charging would be easily understood and optimised based on level of existing charge.
- Localised grids. The team focused on the localised grids and reducing the use of gas to meet our net zero targets. They used the Electralink embedded generation and BEIS data. They showcased how to manage the transition to low carbon domestic heating and the shift in usage of gas. This identified how the shift towards the near zero use of natural gas would need to be supported by incentives such as smart local electrical grids with local generation and load shifting.
- Reducing heat waste. The team looked at fuel poverty and the challenge of reducing heat waste in the regions across the UK. They used the BEIS, Smart DCC and Electralink data. They presented the zero waste exchange, which is a platform to drive decarbonisation through competitively trading heat and waste locally, helping drive down fuel poverty by supporting local communities.
- Consumers smart meter dashboard. The team focused on the challenge that consumers do not understand what a kWh means in real terms, and how consumers will need to help tackle the climate change emergency. They used the Smart DCC data to showcase a household smart meter dashboard to show practically what it means to switch on/off appliances, answering “what does a kWh actually mean in relation to your carbon footprint”. This could be compared with how well your neighbours are doing to reduce their consumption. This was a use case to understand how well consumers respond to different smart initiatives in an effort to engage consumers in smart meter technologies.
- Decentralised energy systems. The team identified a need to decentralise the energy system. They used the Met Office, Electralink and Smart DCC data, and developed an equation from to create the hourly local to national ratio and help UK regions develop visibility of local area embedded supply vs consumption to support decentralisation of the energy system.
As well as our work with the Modernising Energy Data initiative, we are now looking at how we and industry bodies can use outputs from the hackathon to help inform our decarbonisation work. We are also exploring collaboration opportunities, including potential data trials, to increase safe and secure data sharing and identify missing data.
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