Network September 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 43

NETWORK / 40 / SEPTEMBER 2018 INNOVATION A s customer behav- iours change and we become more digitally orien- tated, gamifica- tion of otherwise mundane tasks can help motivate people to take actions that benefit their health, their wallet and their lives. But, can gamification play a positive role in essential services or critical infrastructure? How gamification can support the energy transition Gamification enables companies to create customer experiences that take on game-like qualities – proving valuable in improving user- engagement across many industries. Northern Powergrid's innovation project manager, Andrew Webster, explores what makes game-playing a potential winner for the energy industry and explains how to harness this technology to benefit customers and the power network. Case study: could gamification turn every household into a flexibility provider? Network operators are increasingly looking for alternatives to costly upgrades by paying customers to reduce consumption at times of peak demand. Many businesses receive payments for providing this DSR but there have been few residential trials in the UK. Mobile games could become an important tool for networks as they seek to manage power demand and keep costs down for customers. In Northern Powergrid's patch more than 2,000 customers are competing for cash prizes in a trial to show how a mobile game can incentivise households to reduce their consumption at times of high demand. The app engages with customers in a way they can easily participate and has, in effect, created a pool of people signed up as active flexibility providers. Northern Powergrid collaborated with Newcastle University and gamification experts GenGame to develop the GenGame mobile app. At periods of high demand, players receive an alert saying: "It's GenGame time." The more they reduce their consumption, the more points they earn, increasing their chance to win cash prizes. Part of the rationale behind this gamification trial is that pausing your washing machine is only worth around 10p, which isn't going to change customers' behaviour. However, if you aggregate lots of small actions into one pot and create a £100 monthly prize, it becomes much more interesting. So far, the trial has found that players reduce their electricity consumption by an average 11 per cent. Although the average is 305 Watts, some cut as much as 4.9kW, turning off appliances such as tropical fish tank heaters for short periods of time. The lessons of GenGame are now being used in a follow-up GenDrive project with Northern Powergrid teaming up with Ecotricity, Gengame, EnAppSys and Newcastle University to explore how gamification can motivate electric car drivers to use their vehicles to support the UK energy grid. The "Activating Community Engagement" project has generated valuable insights into how energy companies can engage with a much broader demographic than the minority of 'energy enthusiast' customers, and incentivise consumer behaviour change at a time when networks are planning how best to manage demand from rapid take-up of electric vehicles. For instance, if there is an increase in electric vehicles in one particular area, the app could reward people for charging their car when there is spare capacity on the network – a valuable network tool as DNOs consider their best route to transitioning to a distribution system operator. By lowering the incentive costs needed to motivate EV owners to less than the cost of upgrading the local network, gamification could be a winner. Gamification on the rise Let's compare today with five years ago. Chances are, you interact with gamification now in ways you would never have imagined. Did your smart watch give you a thumbs up when you hit your daily steps goal? Did your workflow app proclaim you a hero when you ticked off all your daily tasks? Did you get a digital trophy for practicing your French before your holiday in a

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Network - Network September 2018