Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Japanese consumers help Opower save utilities 23TWh

Steve Rogerson
March 6, 2019
 
Household energy consumers around the globe supported by Oracle Utilities Opower energy efficiency programmes have reached nearly 23TWh in cumulative energy savings. This equates to enough energy to take every household in Osaka off the grid for a year or to charge every personal mobile phone in Japan for 74 years.
 
Oracle was commissioned in 2017 by Japan’s Ministry of Environment to work with four major utilities across Japan, using the Opower service to send home energy reports (HERs) containing personalised energy usage information and efficiency advice to 60,000 households in each of the five utility territories – a total of 300,000 households – four times during the year.
 
In April 2018, the Ministry of Environment reported that households receiving HERs used an average of two per cent less energy relative to those not receiving these communications. While this may sound small on the surface, the MoE estimated that if all Japanese households saved just two per cent throughout the year, this would be the equivalent of replacing 26 million refrigerators at a cost of roughly ¥3tn or placing rooftop solar panels on 800,000 homes at a cost of ¥1.4tn.  
 
The digital revolution has enabled consumers to control everything from how they shop to how they ride to work. Until relatively recently, however, they lacked the ability to manage their energy usage effectively to lessen their environmental footprint and monthly energy bills.
 
Opower first introduced its consumer energy efficiency programmes to the market in 2008, including behaviourally-informed HERs. These reports use a mix of data analytics and behavioural science to help utility customers understand their energy usage better and empower them to take steps to reduce waste where it makes sense for them to do so.
 
Just ten years later, the 23TWh savings milestone is a testament to how utilities and their customers have embraced these programmes and transformed behaviour to reduce energy waste and associated carbon emissions significantly.
 
“Together with our partners and utility customers, including the Ministry of Environment in Japan, we have given 15 million households around the world access to actionable data that are enabling them to take charge of their energy consumption,” said Scott Neuman, Oracle Utilities’ group vice president for Opower. “With 23TWh of cumulative savings and counting, we have only scratched the surface of what’s possible. It is inspiring to imagine the impact these programmes will continue to have in creating a more sustainable energy future, and helping countries such as Japan reach their projected carbon reduction goals one household at a time.”
 
Opower is part of Oracle Utilities, which provides an integrated platform for the entire utility value chain, from meter to grid to end customers.
 
The Opower energy efficiency programmes, including HERs, are part of a larger Oracle Utilities demand-side management product suite that includes peak management, proactive alerts and energy management web tools. Working in tandem, these are designed to inform and motivate consumers to control their home energy consumption and cost, while allowing utilities proactively to meet regulatory requirements, decrease the cost to serve, reduce call centre volume and improve customer satisfaction.
 
Opower recently expanded its offering to engage customers as they move towards more distributed energy resources, such as solar and electric vehicles.
 
Opower is fuelled by what it says is the world’s largest residential energy data analytics platform with over 1.6 trillion meter reads from more than 60 million households and businesses, and has been deployed across more than 100 utilities.