Could gamification hold the key to driving demand response?

Households across the North East of England have been invited to engage with demand response initiatives through a new gamification platform developed by TheGenGame, Open Energi and Northern Powergrid.

Halfway through a three-year trial, TheGenGame syncs with participant’s home appliances and allows households to score points by improving their energy load. According to the developers the game has the potential to significantly boost consumer engagement with energy and free up capacity on the UK grid.

Managing director at GenGame Stephane Lee-Favier, says: “Our goal is for people to be drawn to TheGenGame for fun first. We focus on building a product that looks and feels like a mobile game rather than a traditional utility engagement app.

“The results we’re seeing in terms of how players are changing their electricity use to win, and success we’ve had recruiting players for our closed trials through digital marketing tells us we’re on the right track.”

Around 400 people are currently signed up to the most recent trial, with plans to recruit a further 600 players across the Northern Power grid with the game’s update next year. Early data reveals that certain households have offered 50% of their energy load for direct control through the app.

The trials haved revealed a “surprising” level of engagement from consumers to win and score points, with people allowing games consoles, TVs, electric vehicles (EVs) and hot tubs amongst many other devices to be turned off whilst not in use.

Additionally, data suggests that if as many people across the UK played TheGenGame as Pokémon Go, the game could free up to 500MW of capacity on the Grid, enough to power 1.1 million homes.

Northern Powergrid began working with GenGame to help manage localised networks and to avoid unnecessary network upgrades. GameGen partnered with OpenEnergi to better understand the mechanics of demand response, to identify the right routes to market and to provide a means for aggregating capacity at scale.

Gaming Green

Research by OFGEM and DMGT has found that 50% of UK bill payers admit that they either do not read their electricity bill statements, don’t open them or have never supplied a meter reading. With around 65% of 18-35 year olds spending an average of 14 hours per week playing games, gamification presents a unique opportunity to up consumer engagement.

Commenting on the project, Innovation Project Engineer at Northern Powergrid, Andrew Webster said: “Through playing TheGenGame, our customers and local communities have been able to take part in this fun, engaging and innovative energy gaming concept with some winning vouchers and cash prizes in the process. The trials are generating valuable insights into domestic demand response potential for Northern Powergrid and how GenGame could be used to address localised network constraints.”

Gamification is a concept in its infancy but is still be experimented within the sustainability space. Tech giant Microsoft entered the world of gamification to help promote water-saving last year. The One Drop of Life app, gamifies water-saving activities and educates users on the positive impacts that reduced water consumption can have across the world.

edie has constructed a brief rundown on how businesses can motivate their customers and employees to become more sustainable whilst entertaining them through gamification.

Alex Baldwin

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