Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for keeping the lights on across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, has won an award at the inaugural Network Awards for its Activating Community Engagement (ACE) project which was delivered in partnership with Newcastle University and GenGame Ltd.
The project, which won Partnership Initiative of the Year and was also highly commended by the judges in the Innovation Project of the Year category, was the first ever trial to show how mobile gaming could incentivise households to reduce their electricity consumption at times of high demand.
The region's electricity distributor was shortlisted in four categories for five awards for its work to innovate, engage communities and work in partnership to improve its electricity network and deliver enhanced services for its customers.
The winning project, ACE, saw Northern Powergrid, Newcastle University and gamification experts GenGame collaborate to develop The GenGame mobile game. The game saw more than 2,000 customers compete for cash prizes by turning off washing machines, televisions, lights and other home devices at periods of high demand. Players received an alert saying "It's GenGame time” and the more they reduced their consumption the more points they would earn, increasing their chance to win cash prizes online.
Patrick Erwin, Northern Powergrid’s policy and markets director, said: "We're incredibly proud of our people and to see our partnership with Newcastle University and GenGame recognised at the Network Awards.
"ACE offers a fun solution to help manage demand side response for residential customers and has provided valuable insight into how to incentivise consumer behaviour change at a time when electricity use is increasing as electric vehicles and heat pumps become mainstream, increasing demand on the network."
Peter Davison, Research Associate at Newcastle University said: “It’s a great honour for this partnership to be recognised at the Network Awards. ACE presented a truly innovative way of communicating the concepts of demand side response to Northern Powergrid’s customers. We look forward to continuing and expanding on our successful partnership in the future.”
Stephane Lee-Favier, CEO of GenGame, said: "These awards recognise the great teamwork between our three organisations in delivering a truly innovative project.
"ACE has been a fantastic launchpad for GenGame Ltd’s business and a showcase for our expertise ensuring households engage with and benefit from the energy transition. We look forward to further success with Northern Powergrid and Newcastle University on tackling these key challenges as part of our continued partnership."
Speaking about the award and their decision to select ACE as the winning partnership, the judges said: "Northern Powergrid’s Activating Community Engagement project displays an innovative approach and has huge potential in terms of cracking the really hard problem of engaging customers in energy demand management."
The lessons from ACE are now being applied in a follow-up project called GenDrive, which explores how gamification can incentivise electric car drivers to use their vehicles to support the UK energy grid.
The winners were announced on the 26 March at a ceremony at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole in Birmingham.