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How can data solutions save energy? Join Sitra’s new call for solutions!

New services are needed to solve the acute energy crisis. This also offers opportunities for innovation and business. Sitra is launching a call for solutions to develop products and services using data sources to save energy and level consumption peaks. The deadline for applications is 21 November 2022.

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Johanna Kippo

Specialist, Communication and Public Affairs, Sitra

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The energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine requires a wide range of solutions in the coming months and beyond. Different data-driven services can provide solutions by being designed to help save energy and steer energy use to off-peak hours.

In an effort to discover and pilot new data-driven digital solutions, Sitra is inviting businesses and other interested parties to join the Call for solutions: Using data to curb energy use.

The aim is to develop, with funding from Sitra, products and services that use data sources and help small energy consumers – especially households, small businesses and housing companies – to save electricity or heat. The call for solutions is also aimed at developing solutions for smoothing energy consumption peaks. The solution should help energy users make better choices.

“New data-driven products and services can help solve the acute energy crisis. But we’ll also need solutions once the acute phase of the crisis has passed. The transition to renewable energy will require solutions such as effective methods to level consumption peaks in the future,” says Laura Halenius, Project Director of Sitra’s Roadmap for a Fair Data Economy project.

The call for solutions aims to find a maximum of 15 pilot projects aligned to the principles of a fair data economy. The lessons and experiences gathered from the call will be shared and published at the end of the pilot project, so that others can benefit from the results.

The call for solutions has two rounds. The first will be open 25 October–21 November 2022. Between EUR 5,000 and EUR 15,000 for each selected pilot project will be available in the first stage of the call for solutions. A maximum of three of the best pilot projects will be selected for the second stage.

The pilot projects selected for stage two will have the opportunity to apply for between EUR 20,000 and EUR 50,000 in funding from Sitra for the continued development of the solution in spring 2023. For detailed application instructions and terms and conditions, please see the notice of the call for solutions.

“The situation is difficult, but it also has significant potential for innovation and business,” Halenius explains. “So, this call for solutions is an excellent opportunity for start-ups, growth enterprises, non-profit organisations and student teams, for example. Right now, good ideas can be quickly turned into new products and services.”

For consumers, sensible energy use can translate as financial savings and, ideally, can help level energy consumption peaks in the energy system. Saving energy is a particularly quick and effective way to mitigate the energy crisis and save money. It also helps ensure energy sufficiency in Finland and curb energy price increases.

Making the most of data sources

People in Finland have already done a lot to reduce their electricity use and reduce rising electricity bills. According to Finnish Energy, consumers have reduced their electricity consumption this autumn by as much as 13.5 per cent compared to last year. Over 500 organisations are participating in the nationwide Down a Degree energy saving campaign, which encourages individuals, businesses and organisations to save energy through everyday actions. Sitra is one of the organisations behind the campaign.

But ground-breaking solutions are still needed.

“We will need to use all means at our disposal in the collective effort to save energy this coming winter,” says Sitra Leading Specialist Tarmo Toikkanen. “There’s a wealth of public data in Finland, for example on energy prices, consumption trends and electricity production methods.

Energy companies are also collecting accurate data on everyone’s energy consumption. By combining these and other sources of data, we should be able to quickly build new services and solutions that help individual electricity and heating users to make better choices in their daily lives.”

The data sources used for the solutions can include public and open data, such as electricity price data, consumption statistics and weather data, or individuals’ and organisations’ own data, such as user-specific consumption history. 

Many producers of data need to know what type of data they should make available and what interfaces are needed to share data in an efficient and reliable way.

Toikkanen adds: “In this call for solutions, we will identify several data sources of data that would be useful but not yet openly available. So we will also encourage the opening of new sources of data for which a direct need has been identified.”

Energy operators to pitch their challenges to start-ups

Those interested in the call for solutions can participate in a reverse pitch event organised by Sitra, where energy operators will present energy sector challenges and problems to the participants. The participants can develop solutions for tackling these or other challenges. Sign up for the event.

The call for solutions is part of Sitra’s Roadmap for a Fair Data Economy project, which brings different parties together to recognise opportunities in the data-driven economy of the future.

Sitra has a guiding role in the effort to build a national roadmap for the data economy, which provides insights on building data-driven business models and using data to develop society and the economy.

Sitra will host an information webinar on the call for solutions on 31 October 2022 from 10:00 to 11:00. Sign up for the webinar.

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