The use of open data could save the UK energy market £400 million and 800,000 tonnes of CO2 over the next 10 years, according to clean-tech specialists Guru Systems and the Open Data Institute (ODI).

With the support of the ODI and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Guru Systems analysed consumption data from dozens of heat networks across the UK to diagnose hidden inefficiencies and carry out physical improvements to four existing heat networks.

Heat networks see heat produced at a central point and distributed to a number of homes or buildings across a network. They currently account for two per cent of the UK energy market, but form a key part of the government’s strategy for meeting its decarbonisation targets, with 25 per cent of London’s properties expected to be linked to localised networks by 2025.

The project uncovered issues spanning the networks’ lifecycles from over-sizing in design to problems in specification, commissioning and operation.

Casey Cole, Managing Director of Guru Systems, said: “The majority of the £400 million in projected savings comes from a reduction in the over-sizing of networks as well as increased fuel efficiency across the lifetime of these new systems.

“Designers currently use an outdated model to calculate the most amount of heat needed at any one time and this has lead to networks being drastically oversized to meet demand they will never actually experience.”

Guru Systems has calculated developers of heat networks can save more than 30 per cent on capital building costs, including expenditure on central boilers and pipework, if designs are sized using real-life data.

In total it has calculated that open data could save the UK energy market £400 million and more than 800,000 tonnes of CO2 over the next ten years as more operators sign up to share data.

Residents also benefited from the project and thanks to the improvements made, on one of the schemes involved residents saw their energy tariff almost halved from 7.7p to 3.8p per kWh.

Drawing on the success and findings of the trial, Guru Systems has now launched Guru Pinpoint, a real-time data analytics platform, to allow operators to uncover the same inefficiencies. It has also released open data from the platform – with the help of the ODI – to allow engineers correctly size and design new heat networks.

Casey Cole added: “Open data is key to helping the UK energy sector deliver cheaper, more efficient heat to people living on heat networks across the country.

“By releasing anonymised consumption data we have been able to show operators, designers and subsequently customers what good looks like.”

Jeni Tennison, Technical Director at the ODI said: “It is great to see this evidence of how the clever use of data and opening data to others can save money, enable new approaches and help us all to live lives that are more sustainable and efficient. Guru Systems is not only using data to bring benefits to its immediate customers, by opening up data they are providing information to the market as a whole that could have significant economic and environmental impacts on a macro scale.”

The technology developed by Guru Systems tracks performance across the network from generation, to distribution, to use. From this wealth of data, Guru Pinpoint allows operators to identify inefficiencies and issues at any point in the system, including in individual properties.

In addition to identifying issues, Guru Pinpoint suggests costed measures for improvements to the system so that clients can see the impact of any possible interventions. Meanwhile, machine-learning algorithms are trained to recognise patterns in the problems they discover, allowing the platform to constantly evolve and improve itself.

You can read the full case study here: