Dynamic Demand Challenge

Reducing carbon emissions by shifting energy demand to off-peak times

What was the Dynamic Demand Challenge?

The £100,000 Dynamic Demand Challenge Prize was designed to stimulate new products, technologies or services using data to achieve reduced carbon emissions by shifting energy demand to off peak times or through excess renewable generation. It was delivered by Nesta Challenges in partnership with the National Physical Laboratory’s Centre for Carbon Measurement (NPL) to stimulate demand side response solutions for households and small businesses.

Why did we do this?

Electricity generation accounts for around 30 per cent of UK CO2 emissions, with the primary source of UK electricity still predominantly fossil fuels. The UK’s electricity system is therefore under increasing pressure to keep up with the ever-growing electricity demand. Pressure on and from governments to move towards a low-carbon economy adds complexity to this problem through increased use of decentralised renewable energy generation.

An important barrier to the use of renewable energy is that its intermittence means it may need to be matched with other non–renewable sources of energy that provide base load for power grids. Dynamic demand, or demand–side response (DSR) is the exchange of information between electronic devices, responding to signals from the grid directly or indirectly. These products or technologies can help shift electricity consumption away from peak hours where electricity consumption is high, or enable greater usage of excess electricity generation from renewables, as well as help maximise the use of a smart infrastructure.

What happened?

Five finalists were selected at a 36-hour Hackathon in October 2013 and spent 8 months developing their prototypes.

The UK government...

has set a target of 80 per cent reduction on 1990 CO2 emissions levels by 2050

In 2013...

electricity generation accounted for around 30% of UK CO2 emissions, with the primary source of UK electricity still predominantly fossil fuel based

Renewable energy sources...

such as wind, wave and tidal energy are generally CO2 neutral, but are intermittent due to the unpredictable nature of the weather

Read the final report to discover more about the impact of the Challenge



Hestia powered by DemandShaper is a smart heating control product that performs scheduled demand shifts, reducing costs for homeowners and allowing electricity suppliers to better manage demand. Hestia implements a time-shifting algorithm to subtly alter domestic heating schedules, modulating electricity demand according to the needs of electricity suppliers.

The finalists in the Dynamic Demand Challenge

Kudos Energy enables the group of households around each substation to earn rewards for their local community by manually flattening and balancing demand.

PowerVault is a self-install electricity storage system for households with solar panels and off-peak tariffs, enabling customers to use green, inexpensive power when they actually need it, saving 10-15 percent of electricity bills, cutting electricity peaks and carbon emissions.

thEnergy is a system using domestic heat pumps and thermal accumulators to provide heat when required, but independent from electricity consumption. This allows users to manage the grid side as an energy service company.

UPSide is a cloud-based service that combines energy storage capacity in different devices into a “virtual energy store” that can be used by the grid to balance supply and demand.

Find out more about the Dynamic Demand Challenge

The judges

  • Helen Goulden, Executive Director of Nesta’s Innovation Lab
  • Jane Burston is Head of the Centre for Carbon Measurement based at the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL)
  • Peter Childs is the Professorial Lead in Engineering Design at Imperial College London
  • Neil Hughes  is Head of Technology for National Grid
  • Fiona Cochrane, Energy Team Leader at Which?
  • Dr Jeff Hardy is Senior Manager, Sustainable Development in the Sustainable Energy Policy team at Ofgem
  • Paul Hollinshead, the deputy of the Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department of Energy and Climate Change
  • Ian Ellerington, Head of Innovation Delivery at the Department of Energy and Climate Change 
  • Andrew Burford, Entrepreneurship Lead for Climate–KIC UK
  • Tim Bradley, Lead of horizon scanning at National Grid

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