Technology

Pay people to not use energy

 By Amanda Saint

A UK company has developed a cloud-based solution that can save homeowners and small businesses money while also enabling the UK’s national electricity grid to eliminate over 7,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions a year. In fact, the company’s solution won’t just save people money — it will actually pay them to not use energy from the grid at peak times. The digital revolution has transformed and disrupted many industries. Now it’s doing the same for how we access and pay for the energy we use…

A UK company, Upside Energy, has developed a cloud-based solution that can save homeowners and small businesses money while also enabling the UK’s national electricity grid to eliminate over 7,000 metric tons (7,716 short tons) of CO2 emissions a year. In fact, the company’s solution won’t just save people money — it will actually pay them to not use energy from the grid at peak times.

What’s getting people so excited about this cleantech innovation is that it uses batteries combined with algorithms to help reduce the demand on the national grid at peak times, which is typically when the oldest and dirtiest power stations get turned on to ensure that the whole of Britain can have uninterrupted power supplies. Upside is now building a 4-layer cloud architecture that monitors the state of the grid, predicts when it will be under stress, and coordinates the batteries in line with it. This means that batteries are charged when demand is low and switched on when it’s high, with any excess power also being sold back into the grid and the battery owners receiving 75% of the revenue.

The Dynamic Demand Challenge Prize sought to find new products, technologies or services that use data to help reduce carbon emissions by shifting energy demand to off peak times or through excess renewable generation
Description of what Upside Energy aims to do, and how it is doing it

The technology originated from a challenge by Nesta, a UK innovation charity that works to bring new ideas to life that have the power to transform and improve how we do things. The Dynamic Demand Challenge Prize sought to find new products, technologies or services that use data to help reduce carbon emissions by shifting energy demand to off peak times or through excess renewable generation. A report by the UK’s electricity watchdog, Ofgem, revealed that margins are tight at these times, with spare capacity sometimes falling as low as 2%. Upside’s innovative idea was chosen as one of five finalists out of over 70 entries.

The company won £25,000 ($38,500) to help develop the idea further and was also entered into Climate-KIC’s acceleration program. Climate-KIC is Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership focused on climate change, and brings together private sector companies, academic institutions and the public sector to find the solutions needed to limit the impacts of global warming.

Previously only energy suppliers and big industry could access solutions like this, but Upside Energy will make it available to homes and small businesses for the first time. Meaning everyone can be better off financially and the planet will benefit too.

about the author
Amanda Saint
Journalist and content writer, specialised in engineering and technology with a focus on environmental sustainability, urbanisation and biotechnology.