A platform to help consumers achieve sustainable energy consumption
While promoting sustainable electricity supplies requires coordination at the EU level, the actual implementation has to happen locally. If local actors – such as consumers – are to make a difference however, then they need to be equipped with the knowledge and the means...
This has been a key goal of the EU-funded CASSANDRA project, which has developed a way to help consumers decrease their energy consumption and electricity bills. Completed in April 2014, the project's long term legacy is an open source platform that enables both consumers and stakeholders to compare energy consumption scenarios. What makes this so innovative is that the platform can be used to visualise both an individual's energy consumption, and an entire city's energy needs.
The CASSANDRA project evaluated the effectiveness of the platform by running test cases in Italy and Sweden, using real life data. The first pilot took place at a large commercial centre near Milan, Italy, while the second took place at a multi-residential building in Luleå, Sweden.
These two scenarios demonstrated how the tool can be used to fulfil the needs of a variety of end users. Participants were able to attain an accurate picture of their electricity consumption and their energy needs, which lead to significantly more energy efficient behaviour. Indeed, one important lesson from both pilots was how participants were able to decrease their electricity consumption during peak times and thus achieve an overall reduction in their electricity bills.
Another interesting lesson from both scenarios was that people who were less committed to energy efficiency in the beginning finally managed to increase their interest and engagement. This underlines the importance of providing consumers with accurate and useful information that can lead to environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient behaviour. Indeed, the success of the two pilots encouraged the CASSANDRA team to develop software that could be made available to the general public.
The project also directly addressed the needs of the energy market, which has undergone significant change over the past few years. Sustainability is no longer an option as such; it is a central objective of EU energy policy, and European industry has had to adapt accordingly. Furthermore, power production has become increasingly fragmented, with a growing number of decentralised, small-scale production sites based on renewable energy sources. It is important that the energy sector views these changes as a key opportunity to achieve energy savings and provide new levels of customer service.
In order to ensure the long term sustainability of the project and to promote interest in the platform, the CASSANDRA Network of Interest has been set up. This network is made up of engaged people, companies and organisations from a range of industries who share a mutual interest in the project and its applications. The goal is to exchange information, ideas and thoughts about the platform, and to give members the opportunity to test the CASSANDRA platform and provide feedback.