Data Lab banking on results from apprentices’ ingenuity

The Data Lab – Scotland’s Innovation Centre for Data Science and AI – are challenging Apprentices to use data to make renewables more accessible for low income families across Scotland.

The Edinburgh headquartered innovation centre are one of four similar organisations – along with BAE Systems and a joint challenge from Arcola Energy who are working with Driving the Electric Revolution (DER) Centre Scotland initiative – all providing challenges for this year’s Fuel Change programme.

The other innovation centres involved are CENSIS, Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC), both based in Glasgow, and the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) based in Hamilton, who – as well as the well-known firms – are all hoping apprentices will develop innovative low carbon solutions to real issues currently being faced by industry and society.

The Data Lab’s mission is to help Scotland to maximise the value from data, leading the world to a data powered future, focusing on driving economic and societal prosperity.

The innovation centre has a number of strategic imperative areas of focus; of which energy is one. Within this pillar The Data Lab have leveraged their innovation funding to catalyse a number of energy focussed projects in addition they been instrumental to facilitating successful energy related funding submissions to Innovate UK and other funding bodies.  
They want Apprentices who sign up for the second Fuel Change Challenge to utilise existing data sets (SIMD, Energy Open Data Sets) to help inform their strategy as they strive to make renewables more accessible and reduce barriers to entry for low income families across Scotland.

The Data Lab’s challenge is aligned with Scotland’s Energy Strategy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

They want the Apprentices to think about how they can make green energy cheaper and easier to access than traditional fossil fuel energy sources for lower income families and how they can leverage data to measure progress through planning, rollout and optimisation. They also should take account of the ethical considerations that need to be thought through to enable use of the smart meter and other data for better targeting of initiatives and whether it is feasible for certain buildings and infrastructure to adopt their approach.

It is hoped they will show how potential solutions can facilitate co-operation between home-owners and tenants with local authority plans for development, and whether there might be business opportunities to use surplus energy generated and perhaps how local communities could monetise surplus energy produced for social good.

Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, Scotland’s Innovation Centre for data and AI said: “Since the industrial revolution, society has become reliant on traditional fossil fuel sources for energy consumption, but as we work towards meeting sustainable development targets, it is imperative that we explore fuel change, and how to bring alternative energy sources to the masses. “We know that innovation through data science and AI can help to transform the field, and with all eyes on Scotland for the upcoming COP26 conference, now is the time to act. We want to foster a data-informed energy revolution and, through this challenge with Forth Valley College, we hope to encourage young apprentices to knock down barriers for low-income families across the country, making renewable energy sources more accessible for all. Fuel Change provides a chance to make a real difference through collaboration, and we are looking forward to hearing more about the exciting new solutions for one of our most pressing questions.”