Centre for Net Zero: Pioneering research to make a fully sustainable global energy system a reality

Our global green investments

With everything else going on in the world, it’s easy to forget that we are also going through a climate crisis. Global energy systems, comprising the power, transport and buildings sectors, generate the most carbon emissions. The transition to sustainable energy systems must be accelerated in order to meet our net zero targets.

Enter Centre for Net Zero (CNZ), an impact-driven research unit founded by Octopus Energy. Our team’s access to tens of billions of customer data points gives us an unparalleled insight into the behaviours of people and businesses around the world. CNZ analyses this dataset in depth, runs field trials and experimentation, and builds cutting-edge AI models and tools to unlock a people-centred future energy system that is powered by renewables.

Unlike other parts of the Octopus Energy Group, CNZ operates autonomously, sets its own research agenda and operates on a not-for-profit basis.

We use our research to influence the key decisions of governments, policy-makers and grid operators, promoting the acceleration of the energy transition at low cost. We take a whole-systems view, considering demand as well as supply, and helping design an increasingly automated energy system with intelligent demand at its centre.

A snapshot of our recent work

Some of our recent work includes an academic paper, ‘The Impact of Demand Response on Energy Consumption and Economic Welfare’, that analyses the impact on customers consumption of Saving Sessions, Octopus Energy’s implementation of the National Grid Electricity System Operator’s Demand Flexibility Service (DFS). This paper explores actual demand reduction, the impact of changing notice period and price incentives on consumer behaviours, and the extent to which the service was welfare-enhancing.

Much of our analysis has highlighted the potential of demand flexibility - both in the UK and globally - but there are few policy mechanisms that exist to scale it up. We recently launched the ‘Smart Building Rating’, a tool designed to incentivise consumer demand for ‘smart homes’. By measuring a building’s capacity for flexibility, or its ‘smartness’, it places a value on flexibility that engages consumers and incentivises property upgrades. To prepare buildings for ‘smart’ electrification, they need to be equipped with low-carbon technologies capable of delivering flexibility, such as EV chargers, heat pumps, smart thermal stores, batteries and solar. We are collaborating with Energy Systems Catapult on the development and trial of a proof-of-concept ‘Smart Building Rating’ to demonstrate its policy value, so watch this space.

Behavioural insights The impact of demand response on energy consumption and economic welfare

Estimating the impact of last winter's Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) on energy demand and economic welfare, and measuring the impact of changing notification period and incentive level on demand reduction

General purpose models & tools The 'Smart Building Rating': a digital tool to scale demand flexibility

Centre for Net Zero and Energy Systems Catapult launch a tool to incentivise demand flexibility at scale

Meet Lucy Yu, CEO of Centre for Net Zero

Lucy is a lauded energy, tech and policy leader and one of the Financial Times’ 100 most influential BAME leaders in tech. She sits on the board of eminent think tank E3G and is a fellow at the Tony Blair Institute, where she researches public policy for cleantech and decarbonisation. She has two decades of experience in building groundbreaking tech teams and advising governments and international organisations on policy issues.

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So why have we set up this research house?

You might have noticed a couple of rounds of investment we gained in recent years, with Tokyo Gas of Japan and Origin Energy of Australia lauding us for our mission, technology and drive. This investment means we can invest heavier in research and development to make even more change than we were before.

The climate emergency is the biggest challenge of our lifetime, but by sharing data-driven insights, tools and models, we can unlock and accelerate the global system changes that are required to reach net zero.

For more information on the Centre for Net Zero, please visit octopuszero.org.

Published on 10th February 2021 by:

image of Lucy Yu

Lucy Yu

Director of Octopus Centre for Net Zero

Hey I'm Constantine, welcome to Octopus Energy!