Ireland’s First Ever Energy Hackathon Uncovers Bright Energy Ideas

Published Nov-07-16

Breakthrough:
An innovative cloud-based platform to alert and co-ordinate emergency response units to potential risks on the electricity network during storms.

Company:
Electricity Supply Board, Ireland

The Story:

Ireland’s First Ever Energy Hackathon Uncovers Bright Energy Ideas While complex issues cannot be solved overnight, open innovation events such as hackathons can bring new technologies, new ideas and diverse talents together, resulting in the emergence of novel and potentially disruptive solutions. Hackathons are sprint-like events where participants collaborate intensively on solving issues in a condensed time-frame. They may or may not fully solve the problem/s in question, but either way are useful for so many reasons:

Hackathons produce tangible outcomes, bring new talent and ideas to the fore, dramatically increase problem solving capacity, unite diverse stakeholders and are catalysts for creativity. Hackathons are great models that help companies and organizations pursue their innovation agenda.

The Big Energy Hack

To discover and explore innovative solutions for a low carbon future, the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) in the Republic of Ireland organized the Big Energy Hack in October 2016 – the first ever energy hackathon in the republic.

It comprised of three challenges:

• Empowering customers to be more energy efficient in their homes. "We in Electric
Ireland issue electricity bills every two months to domestic customers, and to be
honest most homeowners haven't a clue of what individual appliances are costing
them," said James Curran, Electric Ireland Innovation Team.

• Enhancing the ecar driving experience. This includes improving user experience
during the 25-30-minute charging period at charge points.

• Improving the reliability and quality of the electricity supply by addressing such
issues as reducing the number and duration of power outages.

More than 150 hackers took part in the 48-hour event, and they were supported by over 30 mentors, comprising of energy industry experts, business, IT and marketing professionals.

After the challenges were outlined, participants formed into ten teams and then embarked on their making sessions. These feverish hours of creativity and ingenuity culminated with a pitch session in front of a panel of judges who selected three winners.

Hackathon Winners

• The overall winner was Glenn Moynihan and his eight-person Cloud Command
team. They came up with a cloud-based platform that lets emergency services,
such as the police and hospitals share information about the precise location of
damage on the electricity network in real-time. This could allow for better
co-ordination of emergency responses during times of crises, such as when there
are storms.

• In second place was the JOLT team for a technology that uses social media
platforms to identify a home’s electricity bill, and helps consumers save money in
real-time.

• The third place prize was awarded to the SPOT team for parking sensors to manage
electric vehicle charging spots.

Turning Ideas into Reality

The winning teams scooped up prize money, ranging from 2,000 euros to 5,000 euros (approx. USD $5,500).

When talking about the overall winning team, Pat O’Doherty, chief executive of ESB, said: “The Cloud Command team devised an idea that is not only innovative, but also practical and implementable and ESB will be working with the winning team to investigate how to make this idea a reality in the coming months."

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