The energy market is changing beyond recognition. From electric vehicles to the Internet of Things, we live in an age of disruption. And, for the first time consumers have the power.
Key to this shift has been the role of clean technologies. Solar panels have driven forward the UK’s renewable revolution; almost one million panels are now dotted around the country, on household roofs, small businesses, hospitals, and schools, among others.
"Our vision for Good Energy is to support this transition through R&D and investment in innovation"
On the national level, renewable power has gone from strength-to-strength. 10 years ago, 6 percent of Britain’s electricity came from renewable sources; today, that figure has grown to an astonishing 33 percent. But for all this progress, we have barely scratched the surface on what these technologies can really do.
The government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 shows the scale of the challenge.
Petrol and diesel vehicles will be entirely replaced by new ultra-low emission cars by 2040. To make progress design of the systems will need to place consumers heart of this transition. One example today is to make it easier for people to use electric vehicles. Scaling up investments in rapid charge points and new battery tech will make EVs a more attractive option and bring costs down. Our investment in the EV platform Zap-Map is key to where we see the future of this market: digital, flexible, and part of the shared economy.
Newer technologies being developed will also make the road to a zero-carbon economy a lot easier. Vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-home technologies are testing how electric vehicle batteries and other storage units can be used to improve efficiency. The central idea is that a battery can have multiple purposes other than powering your car. It can be used with other home devices, providing back-up supply to the grid, and storing power to be used more efficiently.
Our vision for Good Energy is to support this transition through R&D and investment in innovation. Today, we are partnering on a pilot project at Salford University called the Energy House which is exploring these opportunities. The climate-controlled facility uses 300 sensors and cloud-based software to test how the technology can be integrated into the average UK household, providing crucial data into how we can develop zero-carbon homes in the future.
The platform for this change will be next generation of smart meters, a major step up from the current energy tech. These will be used to create time-of-use tariffs where cheaper energy rates are offered during periods of high renewable production, or low demand. Smart thermostats also give people the ability to control where and when they heat their homes, including through mobile phones.
The focus on the use of data and the digital experience support the control of these technologies will impact on the speed of update of new energy technologies.
Energy use is often ignored in our busy lives, but new digital technologies could transform that relationship and mean that households can have control, turning down their costs and their carbon at the same time.