Northern Powergrid, the region's electricity distributor, is ‘playing’ its part in a three-year project which is proving its potential to significantly boost customer engagement with energy and free up capacity on the UK grid.
The project, which offers local people the chance to win prizes in return for making small changes to how and when they use electricity, is being delivered through a partnership between Northern Powergrid, GenGame and Open Energi and is co-funded by Innovate UK.
With over 100 homes signing up within the first three days of going live across the electricity distributor's patch and surprising levels of engagement in order to win, with people allowing their games consoles, TVs, and even hot tubs to be turned off whilst in use, the project is on track to be a major success.
To enable the game to sync with domestic appliances, participants have been provided with free, self-install smart plugs so appliances can be controlled remotely.
Players win points for their available energy load and can be called on a couple of times a week, via push notifications through the GenGame app, to reduce their demand at times of value to Northern Powergrid. Participants also have the option to automate demand reductions.
Players track their progress via the app, complete achievements and compete with one another for cash prizes, high street vouchers, or can donate their points to charity.
There are currently around 400 people signed up to the game with plans to recruit another 600 players across Northern Powergrid's operating area to test a new version of GenGame's app next year.
Andrew Webster, Innovation Project Engineer at Northern Powergrid, said: “The project was designed to reward customers for making small changes to how and when they use electricity. Through playing the GenGame, our customers have been able to take part in this fun, engaging and innovative energy gaming concept with some winning vouchers and cash prizes in the process.
"We’re looking at smarter solutions now to help the industry better manage demand in the future as low carbon technologies become more widespread and this trial is generating valuable insight and we look forward to the full learning being delivered as the trials draw to a close at the end of 2017.”
Stephane Lee-Favier, Managing Director at GenGame' said: “Our goal is for people to be drawn to TheGenGame for fun first. We focus on building a product that looks and feels like a mobile game rather than a traditional utility engagement app. The results we’re seeing in terms of how players are changing their electricity use to win, and success we’ve had recruiting players for our closed trials through digital marketing tells us we’re on the right track.”