Data can help decarbonize cities – let us explain

Article by Stephen Lorimer and Andrew Collinge: “The University of Birmingham, Alan Turing Institute and Centre for Net Zero are working together, using a tool developed by the Centre, called Faraday, to model a more detailed understanding of energy flows within the district and between it and the neighbouring 8,000 residents. Faraday is a generative AI model trained on one of the UK’s largest smart metre datasets. The model is helping to unlock a more granular view of energy sources and changing energy usage, providing the basis for modelling future energy consumption and local smart grid management.

The partners are investigating the role that trusted data aggregators can play if they can take raw data and desensitize it to a point where it can be shared without eroding consumer privacy or commercial advantage.

Data is central to both initiatives and all cities seeking a renewable energy transition. But there are issues to address, such as common data standards, governance and data competency frameworks (especially across the built environment supply chain)…

Building the governance, standards and culture that delivers confidence in energy data exchange is essential to maximizing the potential of carbon reduction technologies. This framework will ultimately support efficient supply chains and coordinate market activity. There are lessons from the Open Banking initiative, which provided the framework for traditional financial institutions, fintech and regulators to deliver innovation in financial products and services with carefully shared consumer data.

In the energy domain, there are numerous advantageous aspects to data sharing. It helps overcome barriers in the product supply chain, from materials to low-carbon technologies (heat pumps, smart thermostats, electric vehicle chargers etc). Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) providers can use data to support installers and property owners.

Data interoperability allows third-party products and services to communicate with any end-user device through open or proprietary Internet of Things gateway platforms such as Tuya or IFTTT. A growing bank of post-installation data on the operation of buildings (such as energy efficiency and air quality) will boost confidence in the future quality of retrofits and make for easier decisions on planning approval and grid connections. Finally, data is increasingly considered key in securing the financing and private sector investment crucial to the net zero effort.

None of the above is easy. Organizational and technical complexity can slow progress but cities must be at the forefront of efforts to coordinate the energy data ecosystem and make the case for “data for decarbonization.”…(More)”.