Improving access to non-domestic energy consumption data

I recently wrote a post describing the data ecosystem for non-domestic energy consumption data in the UK.

In that post I summarised my current understanding of the different actors involved in that data ecosystem, and some of the challenges of trying to access data from the perspective of a third-party service provider.

In an earlier post I also suggested that there are opportunities to learn from Open Banking and develop some better standards around access to half-hourly smart meter data.

Following a recent government decision around access to non-domestic energy data, I think there may be an opportunity to start tackling some of that.

From 2018-2020, BEIS ran the Non-Domestic Smart Energy Management Innovation Competition (NDSEMIC) to incentivise the creation of new products and services that used smart meter data to support non-domestic customers. This includes smaller businesses, public sector and schools. (Disclaimer: Energy Sparks was one of the funded projects).

The pilot demonstrated the potential of these value-added services. But energy companies have been slow to innovate, and services have been slow to grow because of lack of access to data.

This prompted BEIS to carry out a consultation in 2021 around potential options for increasing access. The result of that consultation was published in June.

The decision included this requirement:

Require energy suppliers to meet non-domestic smart meter customer (and their
nominated third party) requests for up to 12 months of their energy use data for free and within a time limit from December 2022

Raising the Non-Domestic Smart Meter Consumer Offer

The consultation response also notes that:

All non-domestic smart meter customers is defined as all customers with an Advanced Meter Reading (AMR) meter or SMETS meter

Raising the Non-Domestic Smart Meter Consumer Offer

So, while there may be some detail I’ve overlooked, this decision means that this requirement is not limited to just those non-domestic customers with SMETS-1/2 meters, but any that have an AMR meter.

This is currently the majority. And the majority of non-domestic customers currently have to pay additional fees in order to access their data. Those fees are often been charged per-meter.

This is a useful step forward as it removes some of the cost and access barriers.

However, there’s unfortunately no requirement around provision of APIs or detail around machine-readable data.

There’s some low-hanging fruit here as, while there are many different formats in use, they are very similar. So some light standardisation to create a recommended CSV format would not necessarily be a lot of work.

So I think that the BEIS decision creates an opportunity to encourage some standardisation around that data. Assuming the energy suppliers are willing and there is some support available.

I think its an important part of realising the overall benefits.

I had hoped that the Ofgem Data Best Practice Guidance, which requires that data assets are interoperable. But I now realise that these best practices only apply to a very limited set of organisations in the sector: just those who run the energy networks.

Looking further out, this would also open the door to looking again at a centralised aggregator for non-domestic energy data from AMR meter. This was something that Ofgem consulted on in 2019 and decided was both promising and feasible (in various forms) but ultimately deferred until a later date.