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Northern Powergrid aiming to ‘jump-start’ energy gamification after successful pilot

Image: NPg.

Image: NPg.

Northern Powergrid (NPg) is looking to ‘jump-start’ new gamification projects after concluding a trial testing the effectiveness of mobile gaming to incentivise residential demand side response (DSR).

Last year, NPg revealed in its initial findings from the project that showed customers had cut their electricity consumption by an average of 11% through the use of a mobile game offering the chance to win cash prizes for reducing electricity consumption.

The game, developed in collaboration with Newcastle University and gamification firm GenGame, was part of NPg’s three-year Activating Community Engagement (ACE) project. Over 2,000 customers took part in the trial of the game and actively competed for cash prizes by turning off electrical appliances during peak times.

This month, the full findings of the trial have been published. Northern Powergrid’s innovation project manager, Andrew Webster, described the scheme as an important step in industry collaboration.

“While it may have been households in the North of England that took part in this cutting-edge trial, it could lead to benefits stretching well beyond the UK.

“By making comprehensive findings widely available – including our trials, errors and triumphs – we hope to jump start other gamification programmes for operator colleagues and play our part in benefiting energy customers across the whole country, not just our patch.”

The reports also provide findings relating to the transition of Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to Distribution System Operators (DSOs) and detail how gamification could prove a ‘powerful tool’ in that process.

“We know we have developed some very important trial data and learning for the industry,” added Northern Powergrid’s head of innovation, Iain Miller.

“We wanted to be as transparent and helpful as possible in sharing this, so we have created a dedicated website to host the reports and broken them down into bite-size chunks for our industry colleagues and other interested parties.”

An outline for a new assessment tool has also been produced with the intention to aid industry-wide reviews and boost potential adoption of DSR gamification. If adopted, the tool would predict GenGame’s uptake and performance across the whole of NPg’s region and could be adapted additional regions.

A follow-up project, GenDrive, is also in development. That will explore how mobile games can incentivise EV drivers to use their vehicles to support the UK energy grid. NPg, Newcastle University, and GenGame are partnering with Ecotricity and EnAppSys for the £400,000 project, which is part of the vehicle-to-grid competition funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, in partnership with Innovation UK.


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