Smart Meter Research Portal

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources

Abstract

The UK is investing £11 billion installing 53 million smart electricity and gas meters in domestic and small non-domestic properties by 2020. The ability to access reliable, high-resolution gas and electricity energy data at a national scale has the potential to revolutionise research into how we use energy in our buildings.

Currently the best available domestic energy data is estimated annual consumption from infrequent and often estimated meter readings by utilities. This data has, over the last five years, been used by researchers and government to help assess the effectiveness of energy efficient technologies and help plan for a low carbon energy system. The introduction of smart meters offers the potential to examine more reliable gas and electricity data collected at least every half hour which offers great opportunities for researchers. It can help develop better methods of disaggregating energy use by appliance; produce more reliable energy labels at lower costs; help identify fuel-poor households; facilitate demand side response to help balance the electricity grid; help identify the most appropriate energy efficiency measures for a property; produce new products and services for consumers; and develop more appropriate policies for government.

One of the strengths of the UK Smart Meter programme is that energy consumers own their own data. This means that nobody, not even utilities, will automatically get access to all smart meter data, and nobody will store everybody's half hourly data. Only if consent is provided by home owners can half hourly data be accessed, and then only via a highly secure gateway. While this appropriately prioritises customers' rights and security, it means that it will be much more difficult for individual researchers to access future energy data.

This proposal is to provide the UK research community with a shared SMART METER RESEARCH PORTAL (SMRP) to access smart meter data (thereby saving considerable time and money) and t establish a world leading research programme using the this data. This research will be facilitated by linking smart meter data to data collected as part of national surveys, field trials, or administrative data within the highly secure UK Data Archive. For example, the UK has an annual English Housing Survey which collects information about the size and theoretical energy efficiency of buildings as well as information about the occupants. Attaching a consent form to this, would allow theoretical energy use to be linked to actual energy use, which in turn would provide the potential to improve energy models such as the National Household Model.

Without a shared portal academics and government would need to build their own mechanism of accessing smart meter data at an estimated cost of £1-2m to meet the security and ethical requirements. This would prevent smaller projects, such as a few hundred house field trail of a new energy efficient technology, from being undertaken. This is because, they would have to install their own meters or read meters manually, making such projects more costly and difficult to recruit participants. In addition, many projects would double the time required for monitoring. Smart meters store data from the previous 13 months, this means that a project assessing the impact of a heating technology does not need to monitor energy use prior to the installation of the new technology. Thereby potentially saving a year of time for many research projects. This means that once the portal has been built and demonstrated to work efficiently via a sample of research projects. The relatively low future annual running costs (£300-400k) can be met by individual research projects being charged a fixed cost for the SMRP service of obtaining, linking and pre-processing data in a secure and ethical way, thereby allowing academics to focus on their research.

Planned Impact

The key beneficiary of SMRP will be UK academics (please see Academic Beneficiaries section of the JES form). The following is a summary of the non-academic beneficiaries and how they would benefit from SMRP research:

1) SMRP PARTICIPANTS who consent to the use of their meter data for research purposes will benefit from the provision of an energy advice service and this advice will improve over time as a result of the research that the programme will undertake with their smart meter data.

2) GENERAL PUBLIC will benefit in the longer term as a result of the research undertaken using SMRP data, for example:
a) Better energy advice
b) Better energy labelling of buildings
c) Energy saving in response to better visibility/feedback of energy consumption via smart meters (and related channels)
d) Reduced bills through energy shifting prompted by Time of Use tariffs (enabled by smart meters)
e) Lower energy costs due to reduced capital supply side costs associated with demand side response
f) Reduced global warming due to reduced carbon emissions resulting in increased renewable generation due to better demand supply matching resulting from a better understanding of how energy demand changes.

3) GOVERNMENT: good energy data is crucial for the development and evaluation of energy policy. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) takes a lead on policy development in this area (see attached Letter of Support), although other relevant departments include the Department of Communities and Local Government (who are responsible for the English Housing Survey and the English Building Regulations); and the devolved administrations (Welsh and Scottish Governments) who have responsibility for their local building regulations.
Specific ways in which BEIS will benefit include:
a) Access to energy data for future BEIS field trials which evaluate the effectiveness of policies. Past projects where this would have been beneficial include the RHPP heat pump trial, and the solid wall and cavity wall field trials.
b) Better data to ground the National Household Model, the key policy model for estimating the cost effectiveness of proposed energy efficiency polices in England.
c) Better estimates of the effectiveness of the building regulations and other policy interventions.
d) Development of better indicators of fuel poverty and related health impacts.

BEIS's business policy will also benefit, from research related to Big Data. SMRP will be a mechanism for the UK to develop its skills in the use of big energy data, and this will be valuable for industry to test new products and services. Note that industry will not be able to access high-resolution SMRP data directly, but will be able to access publicly available aggregated data or high-resolution data by partnering with academia (subject to project approval). They will also benefit from the development of new algorithms created from SMRP.

4) INDUSTRY: many industrial stakeholders have an interest in accessing energy data and the results of research using energy data. This ranges from utilities such as EDF; big data analytic organisations such as Google-DEEPMind; controls and in-home-display companies such as PassivSystems; and manufacturers of efficient technologies who need evidence that their technologies perform in the field as well as they do in the laboratory. In particular, SMRP will investigate the setting up of a 'virtual energy company' to test the impact of new tariff structures (see Annex).

5) Other organisations working for the PUBLIC GOOD. There are many non-government and charitable organisations who are interested in energy use data such as the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Sustainability First. Smart meter data can be used in the public interest to inform, for example, community energy projects; the targeting, delivery and evaluation of area-based energy programmes; and Smart Cities and local energy planning.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Responded to and referenced in BEIS Smart Meter Implementation Programme (SMIP) Review of the Data Access and Privacy Framework (DAPF)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/7582...
 
Description Response to BEIS consultation on SMETS1 Interoperability Consultation
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/maximising-interoperability-for-first-generation-smets1-...
 
Description Response to DCC Draft Development Priorities Consultation, raising awareness of academic/public users of DCC.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL https://www.smartdcc.co.uk/news-and-insights/news/dcc-development-plan-2018-19/
 
Description 'A New Smart Meter Research Portal'- presentation by Simon Elam at BEHAVE 2018 conference. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Elam presentation: "A New Smart Meter Research Portal". (B4. Feedback II, Thursday 14:00-16:00, 6 September 2018, room: Session 4
Chair: BRONWYN LAZOWSKI). BEHAVE 2018, Zurich, Switzerland, 5-7/09/18.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.zhaw.ch/en/about-us/news/events/behave/
 
Description 'A New Smart Meter Research Portal'- presentation by Simon Elam at BigSurv 2018 conference. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Simon Elam: "A New Smart Meter Research Portal". Friday, 26 October, 16:00-17:30. Getting Aggressive About Passive Data Collection Room: 40.250. Chair: Stephanie Eckman (RTI International. 25-27/10/18
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bigsurv18.org
 
Description BEIS kick off meeting to discuss how Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL) would work with government 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Initial meeting with key smart meter related personnel at BEIS to make them aware of the work of Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL, formerly Smart Meter Research Portal (SMRP)) and discuss future collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Smart Meter Research Portal Stakeholder Event, Cardiff 23/05/2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact 40 stakeholders from industry, academia and third sector gathered at University of Cardiff to discuss the work of the Smart Energy Research Lab (formerly Smart Meter Research Portal) and to suggest use cases for real-world projects that could be carried out using the portal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Smart Meter Research Portal Stakeholder Event, Edinburgh 23/042018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 12 stakeholders from industry, academia and third sector gathered at University of Edinburgh to discuss the work of the Smart Energy Research Lab (formerly Smart Meter Research Portal) and to suggest use cases for real-world projects that could be carried out using the portal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Smart Meter Research Portal Stakeholder Event, London, 03/05/18 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 29 stakeholders from industry, academia and third sector gathered at UCL to discuss the work of the Smart Energy Research Lab (formerly Smart Meter Research Portal) and to suggest use cases for real-world projects that could be carried out using the portal.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018