Data Value Hub Activ8

Activ8 – a growing Irish solar energy company looks to understand predictive AI capabilities and drive a greater use of Solar energy nationally.

Meet Activ8 Solar Energies

Ireland’s solar experts.

Founded by entrepreneur Ciaran Marron in 2007, Activ8 Solar Energy has grown to over 170 staff and has completed over 17,500 solar panel installations and is part of the SSE Airtricity group serving over 750,000 customers across the island.

Industry: Green Energy

Location: Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan

Company Size: 170+

Key Project Deliverables:

  • Explore possibilities for developing an intelligent predictor of energy generation and consumption across the Activ8 network of solar cells and inverters.
  • Predict future generation and consumption on the basis of past consumer behaviour and external sources such as weather forecasts.
  • Optimise for the consumption of power locally
  • Explore wider opportunities with profound environmental impacts.

“Solar is all about technology and we wanted to see how we could leverage all of our generation and consumption data to increase the use of solar energy and support the continued growth of our business. It looks like AI can help consumers become greener and drive down the national carbon footprint.”

Gary Connolly, Commercial Director

The Challenge

  • Activ8 wished to determine the generative capacity of its entire network based on combining historical generation data with additional external data sources.
  • The questions Activ8 wanted to explore were:
    • Could AI predict future energy generation?
    • What additional data would be needed?
    • What else could be possible if this was solved?

And that’s where we came in.

“The AI Incubator was great. What surprised me was when I went back to the business, I found I was able to see other areas beyond the original problem we brought where AI could be applied.”

Jim Mc Eneaney, Marketing Manager, Activ8 Solar Energies

The Solution

The AI Incubator programme gave Activ8 Managers the support & resources they needed to help understand how AI could be applied within their business and on their extensive energy generation and consumption data sets.

During the AI Incubator, Activ8 focussed on leveraging value from the data collected by the vast array of Solar energy devices they had installed across domestic and commercial sites.

The initial aim was to investigate the feasibility of an application which empowered consumers to meet a larger proportion of their consumption with the solar energy they generated. This would utilise AI predictions based on consumption patterns and external data sources such as weather forecasts.

The team first typified the generative capacities of sites into a set of 30-40 generation profiles.
The design included the use of a blockchained dB instance – making an immutable record of generation to facilitate carbon offsetting.
The team also showed that the technical system integrations (API’s) needed for such a project were possible.

Most significantly, the results signposted that a significantly larger project – a Virtual Power Plant – was a real possibility where solar generated energy in excess of consumption demand could be resold back to the grid.

Results

  • The team developed successful proof of concepts demonstrating:
    • A model of energy generation capacity based on historical site generation and external data sources
    • Working integrations with all required data sources including Solar Panel APIs and external APIs (such as weather forecasting services)
    • A Mobile Phone App prototype to showcase proposed functionality from a user perspective
    • Designs for a portal displaying consumption and generative statistics
  • All prototypes and work have been saved in preparation for potential further investment and development.

The Benefits – ROI/Impact

Participation in the AI Incubator helped the management team understand the potential areas of the business that AI could be applied for improved revenue and consumption of green energy. Some follow on areas for further investigation and investment were signposted.

The programme has upskilled key Managerial Staff in Activ8 Solar Energies

It is now understood there are potentially viable business models leveraging the network of Activ8 Solar Energy solar panels across Ireland, and Activ8 collected data :

Improved consumer products leading to improved customer retention and improved consumption of customer generated solar energy over non-solar sources.

Further reduction of carbon footprint by utilising readily available solar energy excess.

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