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Personal Energy Administration Kiosk application: an ICT-ecosystem for Energy Savings through Behavioural Change, Flexible Tariffs and Fun

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PEAKapp (Personal Energy Administration Kiosk application: an ICT-ecosystem for Energy Savings through Behavioural Change, Flexible Tariffs and Fun)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2019-06-30

In the current situation most European households are informed about their electricity consumption once per year. Smart meters collect the electricity consumption of households in a high frequency (i.e. four times per hour) and transmit these figures to the responsible hub. Consequently, PEAKapp developed a smart phone app which provided households all the capabilities required to achieve the goals outlined above by addressing an unprecedented array of different mechanisms to motivate lasting and effective action i.e. citizen’s behavioural change through:

a) Peer comparison and information provision effect on household energy efficiency,
b) the provoking force of serious gaming and most outstanding,
c) monetary rewards for consuming electricity in times of high production from renewables (by implementing flexible electricity tariffs).

PEAKapp validated this ICT-solution 2.0 under real life conditions in more than 2,500 households in Austria, Estonia, Latvia and Sweden. The results of 17 months field tests in Austria (country with the longest field test with the highest number of participants, > 1,500) showed that there is high demand and interest on the consumer side in the usage of such applications: 80% of the users who received access to PEAKapp used the application at least once, 30% kept using the app regularly through the whole duration of the field tests. Looking at the results of PEAKapp in terms of energy efficiency, we observed that households that were using the app regularly could improve their energy efficiency by 7% on average. Further on, the results of the monetary rewards demonstrate that consumers are willing to adjust their consumption when provided with the right incentive, the average discount caused an increase in consumption of 1.15%. As the monetary part of the incentive is relatively small, we assume that the effect was related to information that energy was produced from renewable sources during the discounted periods. More over, according to results of PEAKapp survey after the end of the project 89% were willing to use the app further, suggesting a high level of satisfaction with the provided by PEAKapp services. The results of peer comparison also show that households that were looking at the benchmark decreased their electricity consumption by 3% and the less efficient ones even by 7% the day after looking at the benchmark. Looking at further results achieved by PEAKapp, 40% of users claimed that their behaviour in terms of energy consumption has changed after that used the app, 14% replaced their household appliances with more energy efficient ones, and 5% even made major renovations in their dwellings including retrofits. From the electricity provider side, PEAKapp was seen as a competitive advantage as it helped to improve the communication with the consumers, decrease the churn rate and test new business models. As PEAKapp field test collected evidence of advantages of such an ICT for consumers, also the regulatory aspects which will support further market uptake of such solution were also analysed within the PEAKapp project.
The key objective during the 1st Reporting Period was to develop the app system and to start the field testing thereof, followed by support of the field test as well thorough scientific analysis of the collected data and dissemination of the results of the 2d Reporting Period.

To resolve all these challenges and finally derive a system specification with promising features for creating lasting customer interest, PEAKapp started by assessing existing solutions with respect to their performance in the context of customer engagement in WP 1. The system specification was then transferred into close to market ready software systems in WP 2. WP 3 was dedicated to carrying out the field tests. The necessary steps were i) to implement the system in the infrastructure of the respective electricity retailer, ii) recruit household customers to participate, iii) to provide test customers the app and support them with initial questions/problems, and then iv) to maintain the field tests by moderating the national Facebook groups, send motivating push messages to customers, transfer their achieved monetary savings into the retailers’ billing system and continuously monitor the technical performance of the system.

These steps allowed to collect an unprecedented amount of data on household electricity consumption behaviours as well as interaction with the app, which were further analysed in WPs 4 and 5 by scientific partners to estimate PEAKapp impact in terms of energy savings, consumers reaction to dynamic tariffs and peer comparison, as well as overall effect of PEAKapp on the energy system. Regulatory perceptive including analysis of related data privacy challenges as well as regulatory support for further implementation of dynamic tariffs as tested in PEAKapp was also accomplished in WP 5.

Since the start of the field test PEAKapp has disseminated the project objectives and preliminary results to a broad audience. These efforts were increased in the second reporting period as more data was collected and analysed. The results were presented during various conferences reaching more than 13,000 with dissemination activities in industry and academic circles in Europe and North America. The dissemination activities included among the highlights: participation of PEAKapp in European Utility Week in 2017 and 2018, in InnoGrid2020+ 2018, in the SET-Plan and EU Sustainable Energy Week, as well as presentation of PEAKapp results of effect of dynamic tariffs on households electricity consumption in many international conferences and scientfic publications.
The project has made achievements beyond the state of the art in several domains. One special feature of PEAKapp is the possibility to define specific time slots during which discounts are granted to all customers or a subgroup thereof. Related messages can be free electricity on Christmas Day for all customers, or half priced electricity for a sauna round on a cold winter evening sent to owners of such wellness amenities only, as examples.

As a further unique feature, PEAKapp has developed a game exploiting actual customer behaviour into a joyful learning experience for households. In the game PEAKpoker players bet on their electricity consumption of the day, and in the next morning their guess is compared to the actual consumption. If they have overestimated or underestimated their actual consumption, they are asked to virtually produce or consume electricity to compensate the estimation error. Households can compare themselves to similar households, so that keeping up with other households is stimulated.

The field testing in PEAKapp was one of the core activities in this project, having two key objectives: 1. to test the customer acceptance and efficacy of dynamic electricity tariffs, which has not yet been studied in a scientifically sound way. The knowledge gained while achieving this objective is not only valuable for the scientific community, but provides important input for policy makers aiming at an impactful exploitation of the European smart metering infrastructure.

At the same time the results of the field tests create a competitive advantage for the PEAKapp system by providing empirical evidence of customers’ acceptance and its potential contribution to the business strategy of energy retailers.
Presentation of PEAKapp at the Energy Savings Fair 2017 in Austria