Innovation for smart energy management in non-domestic sectors

The UK’s energy system is evolving to become smarter and more flexible, helping to reduce carbon emissions and secure supply, whilst also delivering affordable clean energy. 

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The transition to smart meters

Smart meters are replacing traditional gas and electricity meters in homes, small businesses and schools across Great Britain as part of an important upgrade to the national energy infrastructure and underpinning the cost-effective delivery of Government’s net zero commitment. 

They are a critical tool in the transition to a low-carbon energy system, for example by enabling incentives for consumers to use energy when renewable generation is available and automatic charging of electric vehicles when prices are low. 

Taking control of how energy is used

Navigating this transition requires a system-level approach, ensuring that new infrastructure is located in the right places and built at the right time. It will also see consumers transform from playing a passive role, simply having their energy demands met, to becoming active participants, taking control in how and when they use energy.

It’s about being smart. And being smart is only possible with access to the right information.

But different types of information will be required by different groups. For businesses and schools, the immediate need is to create greater awareness of how energy is being used in their premises and ensuring they have access to meaningful energy data.

However, there is often a lack of specialist energy expertise in small businesses and schools, and so the challenge is how best to engage and empower staff in these sectors to play a more active role in interpreting and acting on the energy data their smart meters provide. Getting this right will help business owners, teaching professionals and other key staff make smart decisions and save money by changing the way that they consume energy.

The Non-Domestic Smart Energy Management Innovation Competition (NDSEMIC)

To support the rollout of smart meters, the Government funded the Non-Domestic Smart Energy Management Innovation Competition (NDSEMIC) to help develop smart energy management innovations to help small businesses turn energy data into tailored energy management actions.

The Competition ran from 2018 to 2020  targeting  sites in the retail, hospitality and school sectors that may not have an energy manager, or have limited time to embed energy management into practice.

It piloted a range of innovations developed by seven funded Competition Partners, from apps to online platforms and data-driven activities. These aimed to provide tailored, actionable insights that require minimal effort on the part of the end user, to support energy efficiency behaviours.

Findings from the Competition showed the main benefits delivered through these innovations were: 

  • Saving money on energy bills
  • Ability to identify energy waste 
  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Increased awareness of energy use among staff 
  • Increased ability to manage and monitor energy use
  • Becoming more environmentally friendly 
  • Reducing energy consumption
  • Ability to tackle energy inefficiencies and faults 
  • Involving pupils in energy and empowering action*
  • Educational benefits for pupils and resources for teachers*

*for innovations piloted in schools

The Carbon Trust, alongside Ipsos MORI, delivered NDSEMIC’s embedded research and evaluation programme which ran alongside the Competition to draw out evidence about what is effective for delivering energy savings and to explore with stakeholders how to drive future market development.

More about the innovations piloted, including evaluation reports and insights for innovators can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/non-domestic-smart-energy-management-innovation-competition-ndsemic-evaluation-findings

If you want to know more about the rollout of smart meters please contact smartenergymanagement@beis.gov.uk.