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Mobile apps to help save energy, improve ventilation and optimise solar panels – Sitra has selected eight pilot projects to tackle energy challenges

Finnish people have reduced their electricity consumption through daily actions, but new solutions to save energy are still needed. Sitra is funding eight pilot projects that test the benefits of new data-driven solutions. The aim is to help small energy users, in particular households, small businesses and housing companies to save electricity or heat.

Writers

Camilla Aspivaara

Trainee, Communication and Public Affairs, Sitra

Tarmo Toikkanen

Leading specialist, A roadmap for a Fair Data Economy, Sitra

Published

With the call for solutions: Using data to curb energy, Sitra has looked for data-driven products and services to balance energy consumption peaks and boost energy savings. A total of 39 applicants submitted proposals to the call for solutions, which closed in November.

The ideas ranged from solar panel optimisation to mobile apps, from ventilation efficiency to energy storage solutions. They included mobile apps, especially for households, to encourage and guide consumers to use demand response and save electricity. Demand response refers to temporarily decreasing or increasing electricity consumption to better balance demand and supply.

In addition, several proposals concerned the control of smart sensors and switches based on energy price forecasts. Put simply, such solutions could, for example, switch on underfloor heating during the low-price small hours and turn it off when hourly electricity prices rise.

The call for solutions selected eight pilot projects that adhere to the principles of a fair data economy:

  • An online service for households that provides energy saving recommendations based on the user’s own consumption data
  • Optimisation of ventilation efficiency through ambient sensors that measure, for example, temperature and relative humidity
  • A game-like mobile app that encourages demand response and energy savings
  • A mobile app for households to optimise the use of solar panels with data
  • A mobile app to control smart home devices and encourage demand response
  • Control of heat pump use based on electricity price forecast
  • A platform for energy retailers to encourage customers with fixed-price electricity contracts to use demand response
  • An open source device for controlling smart home appliances and solar panels

The pilot projects were selected based on the feasibility and novelty of the ideas. We gave weight to the expertise of the team, the possibility of disseminating the results widely and the fact that the products were already in the development or conceptualisation phase. We selected pilot projects where Sitra’s funding and support would allow the idea to be tested in practice, even quickly. More detailed descriptions of the pilot projects can be found on the call for solutions pages (in Finnish).

The pilot projects provide insights and lessons for energy use

The pilots are practical experiments to learn lessons and understand how data can help consumers to make smart choices in their energy use.

”The pilot projects provide an opportunity to test new digital services that use open-source data on the status of the energy grid while offering tips, guidance and even incentives to consumers,” says Tarmo Toikkanen, Leading Specialist at Sitra.

“The carefree use of energy of previous years is now a thing of the past, and electricity consumers are now expected to better understand the impacts of their own consumption. We want to help consumers by providing them with easily understandable information and concrete tools to support their own energy-saving measures.”

Sitra will fund each pilot to a maximum of EUR 15,000. Sitra will also provide expert support to the funded pilots to take the solutions forward.

The first phase of the pilot projects will end in late January. Up to three of the best pilot projects will be selected to continue to the second stage. These will be eligible to apply for Sitra funding for the further development of the solutions in spring 2023.

The call for solutions is part of Sitra’s Roadmap for a Fair Data Economy project, which brings together different stakeholders to identify opportunities in the future data-driven economy. Sitra has a guiding role in the effort to build a national roadmap for the data economy, which will provide insights into issues such as the development of data-driven business models and the use of data to support the development of society and the economy.

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