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A Gaming and Social Network Platform for Evolving Energy Markets’ Operation and Educating Virtual Energy Communities

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SOCIALENERGY (A Gaming and Social Network Platform for Evolving Energy Markets’ Operation and Educating Virtual Energy Communities)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-06-30

SOCIALENERGY is a European innovation project aiming to facilitate the easy, rich and deep communication among the energy sector stakeholders and residential energy consumers that will allow them to: i) discover each other and their needs, ii) educate themselves towards a better understanding of the difficulties and the challenges that each one faces and iii) finally, interact and trade with each other especially in the form of innovative demand response energy programs. All these will lead to a more energy efficient and finally free from energy dependencies, environmentally friendly society. The aforementioned vision is realized via the development, validation and demonstration of a gaming and social networking platform for educating energy consumers and virtual energy communities towards evolving EU energy markets’ operation. In SOCIALENERGY’s virtual world, users are seamlessly educated via advanced gaming techniques in good practices and decision making related with energy efficiency. Subsequently, users are able to interact in SOCIALENERGY’s “real-world” platform, which will facilitate the easy, rich and deep communication among involved stakeholders from individual energy consumers and virtual energy communities, to utilities, policy makers, and even other indirect stakeholders such as electric appliance retailers and building renovators.

The project’s core objectives span various multi-disciplinary technology assets ranging from ICT and energy to gaming, behavioural economics and education sciences:
• Obj1: Apply and evolve recent incentive technologies (localized social externalities) towards effective use of behavioral economics in energy efficiency and demand side management (or else demand response - DR).
• Obj 2: Develop “SOCIALENERGY virtual world” by transferring gaming technologies into the energy efficiency sector, so as to educate and incentivize utility customers organized in energy communities (ECs) towards understanding and adopting modern demand response (DR) programs, such as price-based demand response (PB-DR).
• Obj 3: Develop “SOCIALENERGY real world” by engaging the users via advanced gamification techniques towards self-organization and management of ECs and efficient interaction with SOCIALENERGY’s commercial activities.
• Obj 4: Provide a single point of hosting and advertisement services to energy consumers, energy communities, utilities and companies related to energy efficiency products and services via the development of context-aware recommendation algorithms.
• Obj 5: Perform small scale and diverse experiments that involve: i) real users, ii) electric utilities, iii) companies active in energy efficiency products and services in order to: a) validate the concept of SOCIALENERGY, b) evolve its technologies, c) trigger its adoption from these markets.
• Obj 6: Offer Energy Information Distribution as a Service (EIDaaS) to multiple stakeholders and commercialize information related with energy efficiency.
Until M30, the following major milestones have been achieved:
• The release of the initial version of SOCIALENERGY functionalities took place in M15 (March 2018). The final version of SOCIALENERGY functionalities have been released in M24 (December 2018).
• The release of the first SOCIALENERGY system prototype has been released in M18. The “beta” version of the integrated SOCIALENERGY system prototype has been released in M27 (March 2019). Respective DEMO videos have been released together with the user manuals and open-source S/W prototypes, which are available in the project’s GitHub area.
• Pilot setup plan and initial communication activities to the targeted customer segment have already started towards SOCIALENERGY products and services’ commercialization after the end of project’s lifetime. The final business modeling work including the management of innovation assets has been reported in M30 (June 2019). The consortium has already set up a concrete exploitation agreement to make sure that the project’s foreground knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are protected.
• Pilot testing results of SOCIALENERGY together with a roadmap towards beyond H2020 objectives, respective research and innovation insights as well as useful recommendations provided to the European Commission were also delivered in July 2019.
1) Gaming technologies in non-leisure contexts:
User engagement is the most challenging issue, which hinders the large-scale demand response (DR) market growth and especially at the residential sector, which represents approximately 40% of the overall DR market share. Many DR programs are already in place harvesting considerable benefits in today’s liberalized electricity markets, but it is obvious that DR markets will not be boosted, unless users comprehend their role and potential benefits as a result of changing their everyday energy behavior. By exploiting, integrating and advancing technologies such as gaming, gamification and social networking, SOCIALENERGY will fast bridge the gap between successful trials of DR programs and wide user adoption. We believe that the proposed SOCIALENERGY platform is the most promising bottom-up learning and education way, which may lead to widespread user adoption.

2) Education and social inclusion:
SOCIALENERGY facilitates and deepens the communication between stakeholders as: i) utilities and ESCOs, ii) companies related with manufacturing and marketing of energy efficiency products and services (e.g. electric appliances, building renovation companies, etc.), iii) public authorities (e.g. municipalities, ministries, etc.) that own a lot of buildings (e.g. schools, hospitals, government, etc.), iv) grassroots community organizations active to environmental and energy efficiency issues. In this way, SOCIALENERGY can be seen not only as a platform towards energy efficiency, but also as a tool towards social inclusion and even electronic democracy though interaction, bottom-up learning and education. Finally, as DR and generally liberalized energy markets involve quite complex processes, whose operation aspects and potential gains are difficult to be understood from the majority of the society and especially for “weak” social groups (e.g. low education, elder people, low-income citizens etc.), SOCIALENERGY paves the way towards familiarizing people with good practices on energy efficiency via the exploitation of widespread social networks.

3) New businesses and applications generated by SOCIALENERGY’s innovations:
SOCIALENERGY bridges the gap between each emerging progressive electric utility and its customers by providing a Gamified Social Marketing as a Service (GSMaaS) solution that focuses in the easy and deep communication among them towards the widespread adoption from the latter of advanced DR energy programs that the former provides. Moreover, through its intelligent and advanced recommendation and advertisement services, SOCIALENERGY facilitates its ECs to select the utility that best fits to their needs, interests and habits. We can call this process Utility Selection as a Service (USaaS) and we believe that USaaS will highly motivate utilities towards more advanced and personalized Energy Programs (EPs). From the customers’ perspective, USaaS will act as a “tutor” that will help them to lower their energy bills and live in a more environmental friendly way.
High-level SOCIALENERGY architecture