One giant leap for energy efficiency

people working on satellite images in church office
Posted 16/10/2018 by E.ON

Using satellite data for everyday life is a given these days – from GPS (think about how often you use Google maps), to monitoring the weather – but what about energy? We’re working with the European Space Agency and Astrosat to capture satellite images to find areas across the UK that need better energy efficiency measures. 

To infinity and beyond

In a changing world, innovation is crucial to the development of new and exciting solutions for our customers, and harnessing technology to improve people’s lives is exactly what we’re doing with the ThermCERT project.

By identifying areas of the UK that need better energy efficiency measures with satellite images, we will have a more accurate view of how to reduce heat loss and unnecessary energy expenditure.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “This government-backed technology could boldly go where no technician in a van has gone before, with the potential to pinpoint households in fuel poverty or those at risk.”

It’s not just about gas and electricity for us anymore

Providing our customers with gas and electricity will always be an important part of what we do, but improving the technology around how we supply and manage it is just as important. With projects like ThermCERT, we’re trying to stay ahead of the curve so that we can help reduce the impact of fuel poverty and carbon emissions, in the most effective way possible.

 

We spoke to Joel Stafford, who is our Project Manager on ThermCERT:

When you think about space, the first things that come to mind are probably exploration and travel or extra-terrestrial beings. What probably doesn’t spring to mind are houses, people or insulation. Myself included, I hadn’t considered the real benefits satellite imagery and space derived data can have on the ground, inside the homes of real people. Working on this project has opened my eyes to the number of possibilities for businesses to enhance their operations using software that has an unparalleled view of the earth. I have started looking at problems through a different lens, creating solutions that were previously locked away/hidden.

E.ON are working with space data experts Astrosat, supported by the European Space Agency, to develop a tool that lets us understand communities and the people who live in them. It allows us to make better decisions and direct our efforts to those who most need it. The backbone of the tool is Astrosat’s ThermCERT technology; a piece of software that uses the ‘space stack’ to derive information about thermal efficiency using satellites, allowing decisions makers to pinpoint areas across the country where a large number of properties are losing heat. 

Whilst this information is useful, poor thermal efficiency can be caused by a number of reasons and E.ON cannot act on it with confidence that people are living in fuel poverty due to poor insulation within their home. What makes this tool so exciting is that by combining thermal efficiency data with aggregated deprivation and demographic data, housing data and E.ON’s own historical obligation data we can build a complete picture of communities across the country, allowing us to spot areas where the likelihood of there being a large number of vulnerable households is strong.

The possibilities do not stop here. The ability to combine multiple data sets into a single visual gives E.ON to platform to work with Local Authorities, City Mayors or Housing Association to solve social and environmental issues through better knowledge and understanding of communities and their residents. This way of working can be used to; improve infrastructure and services planning; understand air pollution that results from transport density or; improve the health of individuals through linking up health services and information as the population grows older.

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