Small business innovators with novel technologies are disrupting the energy sector, bringing benefits to customers and accelerating UK energy system transformation.
This was the resounding message from the UK Energy Innovation Awards 2017 which took place on Thursday evening at the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. Over 350 guests from the energy sector and innovation community attended the glittering ceremony, organised by innovation scout, the Energy Innovation Centre (EIC), for the eighth year running.
Opening proceedings, Jonathan Brearley, senior partner, networks from energy industry regulator Ofgem, said: “There were some really interesting entries across the 12 categories in this year’s awards. What is really clear to me is how much of a difference new technology and approaches can make to improving the overall efficiency of our energy system.
“This is good news for all consumers and I hope to see many of the projects that we are hearing about today making a big impact on the sector.”
Host Jason Bradbury from The Gadget Show welcomed the twelve winners to the stage to collect their awards.
The ‘Best Smart Grid Innovation’ award was presented to London’s VCharge UK which puts customers who rely on storage heaters in control of their heating, reducing energy consumption and cutting energy bills by up to 20%.
The VCharge Dynamo is retro fitted to storage heaters allowing accurate temperature control when needed. The smart device can be controlled via a PC, smartphone or tablet, and can be programmed to take advantage of cheap daytime electricity prices that result from the increasing levels of renewable energy generation.
The judging panel applauded VCharge UK as a win-win for both energy customers and network operators, and for its impact on helping to reduce fuel poverty.
Kenny Cameron, Head of Business Development at VCharge UK, said: “It was great to be recognised for the first full-scale UK demonstration of our technology in Newcastle. The project represents one of the largest residential demand response projects in the UK.
“We look forward widening access to our solution across social housing and private homes, and continuing to develop new applications of our technology for battery and EV owners.”
Start-up WASE Limited was awarded ‘Best University Technology’ for its waste water treatment solution that helps tackle the growing water and energy crisis in both developing and developed countries.
Accepting the award, Thomas Fudge, founder and CTO of WASE said: “It’s fantastic to have our research recognised at a national level by the Energy Innovation Centre; it has given us great confidence in the direction we are taking.
“The next steps for WASE are to secure funding so we can carry out pilot studies of our wastewater treatment and energy production system in Ugandan refugee camps.”
Yorkshire based NM Group took home the ‘Best Electricity Network Improvement’ Award for its Caydence™ service which displays data in 3D, enabling electricity network operators (DNOs) to “walk through” their network. The system is being used by DNOs to pinpoint where vegetation is growing close to power lines, creating efficiencies and improving collaboration.
Another SME recognised for its use of disruptive technology was Cyberhawk Innovations from Livingston. The company scooped the ‘Best Safety Improvement’ award for its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) aerial inspection and surveying services which improve operator safety and provide a 360° view of inaccessible structures such as electricity pylons. Cyberhawk is also pioneering the conversion of drone captured data into insightful asset information.
Chris Fleming, CEO at Cyberhawk Innovations, said: “Our whole team is honoured to have won this award. It is an extremely proud moment for Cyberhawk as the industry recognises our efforts in improving safety throughout the energy sector.
“Our innovative technology is being rapidly adopted by operators around the world to help maintain and manage their assets in a quick, cost-effective and, most importantly, safe manner.”
Taking to the stage to close the event, the EIC’s managing director, Denise Massey, said: “Thanks to a surge in the number of first time entrants, this year’s shortlist has been more diverse than ever.
“The fact that we’re now in our eighth year and the number of entries still continues to grow highlights that the appetite for collaboration between third party innovators and the energy distribution networks is as strong as it’s ever been.
“We’re also delighted that this year’s shortlist has been focused on the delivery of real benefits for customers. Many of the innovations we’ve heard about tonight are addressing some of biggest energy challenges, such as protecting vulnerable customers, tackling fuel poverty and reducing carbon emissions.”
The UK Energy Innovation Awards 2017 were sponsored by:
Wales & West Utilities, Northern Gas Networks, SP Energy Networks, University of Strathclyde Power Networks Demonstration Centre, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, Northern Powergrid, Cadent Gas, UK Power Networks, Kelvatek, Networks magazine, Catapult Energy Systems,
The UK Energy Innovation Awards 2017 winners are:
Best Electricity Network Improvement
Best Gas Network Improvement
Best Innovation Implemented or Adopted by a Utility Contractor
Best Innovation Contributing to Customer Quality and Reliability of Electricity Supply
Best Innovation Contributing to Customer Quality and Reliability of Gas Supply
Best Offshore Renewables Innovation
Best Safety Improvement
CNG Fuels Ltd
Best Smart Grid Innovation
VCharge UK Ltd
Best University Technology
1st place Turbo Power Systems
2nd place: Awesense
3rd place: GridKey