Smart Energy Research Lab

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 to 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 We hope that SERL will demonstrate the usefulness of smart meter data and are working closely with EPSRC, BEIS and Ofgem to maximise this, including using SERL to support the BEIS SENS project .
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Membership of Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation AI Barometer Panel
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/centre-for-data-ethics-and-innovation/about
 
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 BEIS SENS project Covid grant extension.
Amount £64,800 (GBP)
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2021 
End 03/2022
 
Description Partner in Evaluation of Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme project
Amount £87,100 (GBP)
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2020 
End 07/2021
 
Description Partner in Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme - cross-cutting evaluation
Amount £69,160 (GBP)
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 07/2022
 
Description Smart Energy Savings Competition (SENS) energy consumption data provider
Amount £388,710 (GBP)
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2019 
End 03/2021
 
Title Smart Energy Research Lab Observatory Data, 2019-2020: Secure Access 
Description The first edition of the Smart Energy Research Lab Observatory Data, 2019-2020: Secure Access relates to 1,700 participant households recruited during SERL's pilot phase in August-September 2019 and includes: Smart meter data - from August 2018 to July 2020 Daily and half-hourly energy (electricity and gas) consumption data Additional smart meter technical data Contextual data A short SERL survey completed by participant households providing data on household information and building characteristics Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) data Weather data The Smart Energy Research Lab aims to recruit an Observatory panel of 10,000 households representative of the GB population. The fieldwork for recruiting participants will be conducted over three waves: Wave 1 (pilot phase): August-September 2019 - 1,700 participants recruited Wave 2 - August-September 2020 - 4,000 participants expected Wave 3 - October-December 2020 - 4,000 participants expected SERL data will be updated and made available to researchers on a quarterly basis. SERL is an evolving data resource and thus new editions of the data might include: additional records - more (approx. 3 months) smart meter data since the previous edition additional participants - more participants recruited since the previous release additional variables - where new variables become available to SERL. For example, we expect additional weather and EPC variables to be provided in future editions. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This is the first SERL dataset made available to UK researchers using the fine-grained domestic gas and electric smart meter data accessed from SERL participating households. 
URL https://beta.ukdataservice.ac.uk/datacatalogue/studies/study?id=8666
 
Description BEIS funded pilot project to link MHCLG EHS data to SERL data. 
Organisation Government of the UK
Department Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution SERL is a partner in a BEIS-funded project (£9,500) to link SERL data to English Housing Survey adminstered by BEIS and MHCLG. This will be an example of the way SERL can add value to datasets by linking to smart meter data.
Collaborator Contribution SERL will recruit EHS participants who are identified to have smart meters, link the data and carry out analysis on the linked datasets.
Impact None as yet.
Start Year 2020
 
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 Discussions with BEIS on adaptation of SERL systems to look at non-domestic premises. 
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 Discussons with BEIS on adaptation of SERL systems to look at non-domestic premises. Could lead to another version of SERL that focusses on non-domestic sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Discussions with Smart Energy GB about potential collaboration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Meeting between SERL team and member of Smart Energy GB Research Insights Team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Ellen Webborn radio appearances 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact SERL researcher Dr Ellen Webborn participated in a number of talk radio phone-in shows in Sept-Nov 2019 to put forward the beneftis of the smart meter rollout for research as follows:

BBC Radio London - Vanessa Feltz - 3 minute interview on the importance of smart meters (31/10/19) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07psv14
BBC Radio Berkshire - Sarah Walker - 5 minute interview on myth-dispelling and the benefits of smart meters (22/10/2019)
BBC Radio London - Vanessa Feltz - 5 minute interview on the importance of smart meters (17/09/2019) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07l3c05
BBC Radio Oxford - David Prever - 5 minute interview on the importance of smart meters (17/09/2019) https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07m0966
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07l3c05
 
Description Ofgem workshop 3rd July 2020 
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 Workshop between SERL UCL team and Ofgem to discuss possible uses of SERL data for Ofgem Behavioural Insights Team. Particular focus on time-of-use tariffs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Ongoing contribution to Smart Meter Data Public Interest Advisory Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Initially funded by SERL and led by Sustainabiliy First and Centre for Sustainable Energy, PIAG is an independent body now in its 2nd Phase to which SERL regularly contributes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.smartenergydatapiag.org.uk/
 
Description Presentation at NDSEMIC DCC data quality workshop hosted by BEIS 
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 Ellen Webborn summarised the data quality of the SERL smart meter data and raised issues that had been found.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Presentation to IEA on SERL 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation ot International Energy Agency (IEA)'s Vida Rozite and colleages on SERL and possible involvement with upcoming activities. The IEA team are interested in showcasing SERL to international partners and policymakers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Smart Future of Health Launch 18th November 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Simon Elam chaired launch of Smart Future of Health report commissioned by Smart Energy GB from 2020health. Also contributed to workshops and steering group.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://2020health.org/publication/smart-future-of-healthcare/
 
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
 
Description UKDA Webinar 'Energy data for research' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Simon Elam presentation/contribution to UK Data Archive seminar on Energy Research Data. 55 particpants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://ukdataservice.ac.uk/news-and-events/eventsitem/?id=5648
 
Description UKDA Webinar 'Smart Energy Research Lab' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Joint webinar with UKDA to promote SERL, c70 participants inc. some international/industry attendees.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.ukdataservice.ac.uk/news-and-events/eventsitem/?id=5721
 
Description Why nuclear power will (and won't) stop climate change - Simon Clark, YouTube Video 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Accessible video on nuclear power gesturing input from Ellen Webborn " 18:58 min.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://www.ellenwebborn.com/why-nuclear-power-will-and-won-t-stop-climate-change/