New open digital solutions to speed up the energy revolution

Modern housing development viewed from above.

Innovative projects will work on new open software, hardware and data solutions to help accelerate the UK’s transition to a net zero energy system.

Six projects have been awarded funding by Innovate UK to develop new open software,  hardware and data solutions that can help accelerate the UK’s transition to a net zero energy system.

Under the funding, awarded by UKRI’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme, each project will receive up to £300,000 to develop its innovative proposals.

The projects include new, open technology solutions for applications such as:

  • solar power forecasting and management
  • heat exchanger design
  • communication systems for offshore wind farms
  • heating, ventilation and air conditioning control in buildings.

Collaborative resources open to all

All the projects aim to create collaborative open technology resources that can help others accelerate net zero projects across the UK and internationally.

Rob Saunders, Director of the Prospering from the Energy Revolution challenge programme, said:

To reach net zero by 2050 we must change the way we use and manage energy, building much more intelligent and interconnected systems that will benefit households, neighbourhoods, cities and the UK as a whole.

To do this quickly, we need tools that are widely adaptable and open to all. By developing open digital solutions in their different fields, these innovative projects hold real promise to help accelerate the ‘energy revolution’.

The six projects

An AI-driven open source framework for next generation heat exchangers

Led by Toffeeam Ltd.

Working on an open-source curated dataset for modelling turbulence in the design of printed circuit heat exchanger (PCHE) and cold plate cooling systems. These are heavily used by many industries tackling electrification and net zero.

Open energy efficiency savings

Led by Carbon Co-op (the Society for the Reduction of Carbon).

Adapting and extending an existing US open-source methodology for quantifying avoided energy use. The approach combines smart meter data, weather feeds and information on energy efficiency interventions as the basis for new business models.

State-of-the-art solar PV generation forecast for individual PV systems

Led by Open Climate Fix.

Developing a state-of-the-art open-source method for forecasting power generation from solar photovoltaic systems.

This will help solar farms, solar storage, and smart homes to optimise and manage their systems, reducing both costs and CO2 emissions.

5G open RAN IAB radio stack development via open source solutions

Led by JET Engineering System Solutions.

Developing systems that remove the need for fibre between 5G base stations, so that maritime communications can work through a ‘floating network’.

This will speed up the installation of offshore wind turbines, which is currently hampered by limited ability to communicate with sites.

Open source plumbing controller

Led by Thermal Integration.

Developing an open-source controller for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that can carry out a wide variety of roles, and be built on and adapted by others.

This will allow HVAC systems to be upgraded to open control, and:

  • improve monitoring and learning
  • enhance efficiency
  • reduce running costs
  • reduce carbon emissions.

Household and community solar assessment calculator

Led by the Centre for Sustainable Energy.

Creating an intuitive web application to give householders, building owners and local communities free, independent information on the viability of installing solar photovoltaic panels in their specific situation. It also provides advice on next steps and installation.

Further information

The Open Digital Solutions for Net Zero Energy competition was run by UKRI’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution challenge programme, delivered by Innovate UK.

The competition’s aims were to:

  • accelerate the journey to net zero energy
  • stimulate collaboration on key common digital components
  • improve transparency, security and quality of digital solutions
  • drive interoperability across organisations and solution providers
  • stimulate an open, collaborative culture
  • accelerate innovation and growth in the UK net zero energy sector.

The result of the competition is a total investment of around £1.8 million across six projects, using 100% funded pre-commercial procurement contracts.

Top image:  Credit: Bim, E+ via Getty Images

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