A Hack Day for the future of energy
“Alexa, can you do my washing when it’s cheapest?”
Octopus Energy’s first Hack Day makes this a reality
In February this year, Octopus Energy launched Agile Octopus, the first ever energy tariff designed to utilise the power of the smart meter roll out by tracking wholesale price changes every half an hour, and even paying you to use energy when wholesale prices fall below zero.
We wanted to enable other tech innovators in the energy sector access to this incredible data, and so we not only cracked open our Agile Octopus API for public development, but also, on 24th May, hosted over 100 engineers, developers and designers from 22 companies at London's iconic Millbank Tower for Octopus Energy's very first Hack Day.
Teams from the likes of Tesla, Toshiba and National Grid were let loose with Octopus Energy's Agile API, unleashing their innovation and ingenuity to hack products and services using the next generation of smart energy technology.
Each team kicked things off by identifying a problem in the industry — "how can we use existing smart home tech to make energy bills cheaper?". The rest of the day was spent creating a rough and ready software solution....we saw incredible innovation from electric vehicle charging to heating homes and some of the teams shared what they did...
Energy Systems Catapult / Daikin / PassivSystems
A three-way dream team of the government-backed Energy Systems Catapult, Daikin, and PassivSystems, designed a fuel switching technology for heat pumps using the Agile Octopus open API. These folks took home the Hack Day prize for Biggest Impact, offering a solution that pioneered the most affordable way of heating social housing, with prices to match, or even beat, gas heating.
Start-up business, Ecopush, were named the Most Technically Interesting of the day, with their Amazon Alexa-based solution. This super-smart hack allowed customers to say “Alexa, turn on my tumble dryer when it’s cheapest/greenest/right now”. They also came up with a simple robotic button which would turn any home appliance into a smart device for very little cost.
National Grid Ventures
National Grid Ventures focused on a real world solution, by translating the Agile Octopus API into an easy programming language called Node-RED, so that non-coders could easily play around and benefit from this new technology.
Myenergi created an app that linked its proprietary technology with Agile Octopus, to allow customers to charge their electric car (or any household appliance, exemplified by a hastily procured kettle) either from the grid or from microgen, depending on the price at the time.
Energy World's article gets into the weird and wonderful creations of the day.
(Spoiler: it includes an energy savvy Roomba who zoomed around haranguing our CEO about the cheapest time to power up, and a last minute Octopus team mission to buy a tumble dryer and transport it across London)
We were even lucky enough to be recognised by Energy Minister, Claire Perry, who said:
"I’m delighted that the Agile Octopus HackDay brought brilliant developer teams together to explore and showcase innovative applications for smarter energy use.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the huge potential of smart meters to transform the way we use energy in our homes, saving money and handing control back to families. The ideas brought to life at the HackDay, made possible through Octopus’ innovative time of use tariff, bring to life the extraordinary potential of the smart meter roll out to connect across electric vehicles, smart appliances and smarter homes products to deliver real savings to customers hand in hand with improved comfort and convenience."
The Hack Day was a hit, and we’re already planning our next one. Watch this space — there’s much more innovation to come. And you can be part of it, whether you’re hacking alongside us or making use of some of the resulting smart tech to cut your energy bills down and boost renewables on the grid.
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