Open Data for Energy

Open Data for Energy

Internet has changed our life. Communication, education, shopping, business etc.

What about energy?

Via internet, it is possible to access our energy account information, we can monitor our energy usage and we have become more aware of the importance of renewable energy. But has the way we buy and sell our energy changed? Not really. Yet.

As part of the BRE+G4C research project on the use of Open Data in the Construction industry, we interviewed James Johnston, founder of Open Utility, an East London based tech startup, that could change the UK Energy market. James makes it easier for us to understand the possibility to open up the energy market by applying exchange protocols similar to internet P2P and file sharing.

Just to give you a bit of background, when we download a file from the internet, it is not essential for the entire file to be physically stored in the server hard drive from which we are downloading. The file may be too big to be stored in one place or it might be more efficient for the file to be split into small packets of information. These packets can be downloaded from a number of places across the world. Packets then get reassembled in one file in our computer once the download is completed so that we can enjoy our film, music, application etc.

At the moment the energy market is engineered in a way that consumers can only buy their energy from one supplier. The supplier has a direct relationship with the generator without the consumer getting involved. The consumer has the possibility to switch supplier although this is not always simple and quick.

Going back to the file sharing analogy, the current energy market allows us to download files from one server at the time. Consumers are subject to the server costs, downtimes, availability of content etc.

It comes without saying that if consumers could split their energy demands into packets of energy and they could deal directly with the generators then we would have a more efficient market where renewable energy generators, which are inconsistent by definition in their supply, could maximise their contribution to the energy mix, the environment and the competitiveness of the market. Once an open market for P2P energy sharing will be created it will be possible to analyse energy trends at national level moving away from the silos mentality of monopoly suppliers.

If you are interested in how the energy market could benefit from the use of Open Data just watch our video interview!

If you want to know more about Open Data in the Construction industry or wish to host an event with G4C please feel free to get in touch by email at [email protected]

Author: G4C