Scottish building optimisation company arbnco has won a £641,000 contract for phase two of the Government innovation competition Boosting Access for SMEs to Energy Efficiency.
The contract with the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy through its Energy Innovation Programme will allow arbnco to develop a prototype of its Digital Energy Efficiency Platform to improve energy efficiency across the UK’s 5.9m small and medium enterprises. Phase two of the project will involve arbnco deploying the prototype for pilots in the central belt of Scotland, the West Midlands and Bridgend, Wales.
Led by arbnco, the project brings together expertise from multinational energy and services company Centrica, Energy Systems Catapult, Aston Business School, Durham County Council and sustainable finance company, Cyan Finance.
DEEP will simplify the process of engaging with energy efficiency, by automatically optimising a business’s total energy consumption and the energy performance of its premises specifically.
The platform will use a range of data sources such as energy consumption and building energy performance, retrieved automatically or supplied by the SME, to generate a bespoke list of physical and behavioural energy efficiency recommendations together with costs, trusted suppliers and finance options.
Andrew Stewart, research and development manager at arbnco, explained how the platform has been developed with the end user in mind. He said: “The first phase of the project focused on the technical feasibility of the platform as well as understanding the obstacles that SMEs face when it comes to energy efficiency. A review of potential business models was conducted by Energy Systems Catapult during the first phase. Bringing Centrica on board for phase two will provide greater insight and access to SMEs as we look to roll the platform out nationwide. By providing SMEs with critical insight into their energy use and tailored retrofit recommendations, based on an assessment of the energy performance of their building and patterns in their energy consumption, we can help thousands of businesses become more energy efficient.”
Centrica, whose brands include British Gas and Scottish Gas, is the UK’s biggest energy supplier to business with 340,000 customers. The multinational energy and services company will be working with arbnco to roll the platform out to market.
Liam Burlinson, head of business energy efficiency at British Gas Business, commented: “SMEs have a critical role to play as the UK strives to meet its net zero targets, but they often don’t know where to start when it comes to improving energy efficiency. Centrica are committed to helping customers become more sustainable and we think arbnco’s platform can help tackle some of the fundamental barriers that exist for SMEs today – such as lack of time, money or internal expertise to make targeted, cost effective changes.”
Following completion in April 2021, the platform will be rolled out nationally. arbnco has partnered with Energy Systems Catapult on the project. The Catapult is providing expertise to the BASEE project in the form of Business Model Innovation support to improve the functionality and usability of the DEEP prototype.
Rebecca Lane, business modelling analyst at the Catapult said: “Having worked with arbnco on phase one of the project, we are confident we have now identified a strong value proposition from both ends of the value chain. As the project moves into phase two we will be working with arbnco and Centrica to pilot the prototype in three locations across the UK and develop the product ready for its national rollout in 2021.”