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How real-time data can help lower UK energy bills

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Jamil Ahmed Distinguished engineer, Solace

 

The UK has continued to see surging energy price rises. Following an increase in the UK’s energy price cap, by October, a household’s typical energy bill will be set to rise to a whopping £800. The costs are being passed on to the consumer, already struggling with rising inflation. So what can be done to help reduce a household’s energy bills to help the impact on one’s finances?

The rising price of energy can be attributed to several reasons. Firstly is the initial economic bounce back following the pandemic seeing soaring demand. However global factors such as the windless summers seen in Europe, droughts in South America and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine have all been major contributors to price rises. While the UK government has already offered loans and begun debates for a windfall tax, this is only a short term fix, and more must be done.

 

Making meters smarter

Over the past 10 years, the UK government has made concrete efforts in the installation of smart meters. Despite the initial onset cost of delivery and installation, the government believes that the benefit will be seen in the long term across households in the UK.

Yet smart meters have taken a public beating. The criticism is not the direct fault of the device itself, but rather in its execution. ‘Non-smart’ meters, what we are used to seeing, do not do enough to bring a full context into one’s energy consumption. Typically, when looking at their meter, a consumer will simply see a number rising with no specific understanding as to what it refers to in terms of pound for pound usage. This data adds little value to a consumer and has no impact on the potential positive changes that can be made in everyday energy consumption.

The first step to solving this issue is to improve the consumers’ understanding of how they typically consume energy throughout any given day. This means there needs to be a complete overhaul at both the consumer and company level. If a consumer is more knowledgeable as to how much their energy usage impacts their bills, they will be better informed of how reflective their daily habits of consumption are.

By presenting the data registered by smart meters – for instance through an interactive display, a mobile app or even a simple website – it gives consumers a deeper level of understanding of their energy consumption habits. If a consumer can see the differing prices for energy as part of a smart tariff, they can adjust their behaviour accordingly. This will be used to their advantage, such as moving the usage of their washing machine to the next day, or charging their car late at night if costs are lower in the evening. This is a clear example of nudge theory, a concept in behavioural economics that passes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions onto the consumer. In this case, not only will it reduce a consumer’s energy bill long-term, but it will allow for further environmental initiatives to be pushed forward.

The question is how can smart meters offer the highest level of accuracy and timely nudges to the consumer? The answer lies in real-time data movement.

 

How the government can act

In 2021, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) announced it would create the Market-Wide Half Hourly Settlement (MHHS). This proposal is a key enabler in supporting the transition to net-zero. It will contribute to creating a cost-effective electricity system and encourage more flexibility in one’s usage of energy to lower household bills.

The programme will mandate that all energy companies provide half-hourly updates from providers on a consumer’s energy consumption. When put in place, it will see a boom in the efficiency of smart meters as it allows consumers and businesses alike to reduce energy usage, moving us towards a greener Britain.

For smart meters to provide this level of insight, it will require a seamless movement of vast amounts of data between the smart meters to the energy providers, and back again to the consumer across different channels. As it stands, smart meters summarise the consumption data in, usually, daily updates to the provider. This move to half-hourly will mean a 48x increase in data volume to process from each meter. Existing IT infrastructures are not currently built to cope with this expected massive change in data volume. Energy providers must deal with the issue sooner, rather than later.

 

The key lies in real-time event-driven architecture

Real-time data movement occurs when a piece of information can travel almost immediately the moment an event happens, all across the chain of interested applications and users. Consider the smart meter as a publisher of consumption events, with the energy provider and the members of the household as simultaneous subscribers to those same events. Event-driven architecture (EDA) organises IT systems around the flows of these ‘events’ to provide a more seamless and ‘joined up’ experience across different business functions and services. Companies in the retail sector have adopted such an approach to implement ‘omnichannel’ shopping experiences, for example.

Only when there is no delay in such data movement, can it truly act as the ‘nudge’ to positively adapt and lower usage habits, or detect potential energy wastage. This envisaged decrease in total usage benefits both the consumer’s wallet and the environment.

In fact, it is for this reason that Ofgem has proposed for the MHHS programme to embrace EDA as its underlying IT foundation. The need for real-time has already been recognised by many to drive greater value out of their data. A recent global survey reported 71% see the benefits outweighing the costs of implementing EDA. Thankfully, Ofgem has recognised the need for EDA in lowering prices, helping power the race to net zero.

EDA will be the sole differentiator for MHHS to be successfully implemented and achieve the desired aims. It will allow energy providers to react in real-time to updates from smart meters, and in turn, inform consumers through apps and services in real-time of usage insights with new capabilities such as trend reporting and more accurate future consumption predictions.

Environmentally speaking, the race to net-zero can and should be powered by real-time data. Off the back of MHHS, Ofgem could introduce ‘smart tariffs’ to act as an incentive to decrease energy usage. When prices are lower during certain periods, customers can be made aware, in real-time, through a multitude of channels (such as mobile apps or smart home devices), encouraging them to take advantage of this shift and alter consumption levels. Taking this one step further, it can be applied to connected appliances as well, helping alter usage patterns to optimise costs based on the insights available from this new future. Imagine electric vehicles automatically adjusting charging activity themselves to optimise costs.

Eventually, the proposal of encompassing EDA into the UK energy sector is both a welcomed and necessary one. Event-driven architecture will be the pivotal driver, long term, for reducing costs on both sides of the energy aisle.

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Fractional NFTs- A Positive Impact on the Market

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Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) have been making headlines for quite some time now. The phenomenon is getting a lot of attention from people across the world. NFTs generally cost a fortune but thanks to Fractional NFT(https://www.mesha.club/fractional-nft/) (F-NFT), people can acquire expensive assets for a few bucks.

 

What Are Fractional NFTs?

In simple words, Fractional NFT is a non-fungible token that has been divided into smaller fragments. Hence, different people can claim partial ownership of the same NFT. To understand this concept of NFT investing(https://www.mesha.club/nft-investing/), take an example of a cake that is sliced to serve several people. Considering that NFTs are unique and can’t be duplicated, fractional NFTs go beyond these restrictions by enabling people to divide their ownership.

 

Difference Between F-NFT(Fractional NFT) and Traditional NFT

A fractional NFT or segmented NFT represents a certain percentage of ownership or portion of an NFT. A traditional NFT is a whole while F-NFT is a part of it. Moreover, the segmentation process can be reversed to convert fractional NFT into a complete NFT. A single NFT with a buyback option allows the investor to purchase all the shards and acquire the original NFT.

To convert fractional NFT ownership into a single NFT ownership, the holder must initiate a buyback option by transferring a certain amount of ERC-20 tokens to the smart contract. This triggers a buyback auction which will happen in a fixed period. Therefore, allowing some time for NFT holders to make a decision. In case a purchase takes place during that period, fractions of the NFT are returned automatically to the smart contract and the buyer will have complete ownership.

 

Advantages of Fractional NFT

Democratization

The NFT market restricts small and medium investors as the assets are mostly high valued. So, only a few of them can afford to buy these NFTs. However, fractional NFT benefits newcomers and small investors by reducing the cost of the assets and opening up more opportunities for them.

Greater Liquidity

For a high-priced NFT, you have to wait for a wealthy investor who can afford it. F-NFTs are more accessible and easy to sell as you can split the ownership of an ERC-721 token into multiple ERC-20 tokens and sell each of them individually.

Price Discovery

With no or limited transaction history, it is difficult to find the right price for a whole NFT. However, splitting it into smaller tokens make it affordable and more people can trade the asset. Hence, making it easier for investors to assess its true value.

Increased Visibility for Creators

A fractional NFT has a more liquid market that lets digital creators go online and reach a wider audience.

 

Industries F-NFTs Can Potentially Disrupt

Art

Digital artists along with NFT owners will have the option to divide their assets into smaller segments and sell each F-NFT portion individually to investors. Thus, emerging artists can also easily sell their digital artworks in the market easily.

Gaming

Games that involve trading cards can also seek the benefits of the NFT market. People can sell their cards for impressive amounts. Also, they can auction their in-game items, such as guns, rare skins, and armor through F-NFT and sell rare gaming products to multiple buyers by fractionalizing them.

Collectibles

One of the popular fractional NFT use cases is collectibles that have great potential with crypto being sold for over $1 million. Recently, a collection of 50 CryptoPunks was offered for sale after being fractionalized. This allowed small investors to acquire the asset and get a share in the collection.

Domain Names

With the evolution of the crypto market, the domain names like .crypto and .rth are in demand. So, rare and popular domain names can be fragmented and sold to different buyers.

Real Estate

Luxury properties that were too expensive to afford earlier are now accessible to more people. These high-valued properties can be fractionalized into F-NFT so multiple investors can acquire them. Also, there will be no need for mortgages as tenants could hold different parts of the property together.

Music

The music industry is making the best of fractional NFTs as music artists can fractionalize their albums and sell them to fans without involving third parties. This also resolves the problem of the direct artist-to-fan relationship.

The concept of fractional NFT is still in its initial phase but we can expect it to grow rapidly and become the next trend in the crypto market. F-NFTs open more opportunities for small and medium investors to acquire digital assets at affordable prices. They can easily invest in valuable assets that have the potential to offer many-fold returns in the future. Also, it will encourage people to start their NFT journey without delay as they need not have millions of dollars to buy popular NFT pieces.

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Four tech IPOs you haven’t heard of that are likely to go public

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With the tech sector expanding drastically, Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Advice at Freedom Finance Europe, explores four unfamiliar IPOs likely to go public that investors should watch.  

The technology sector is constantly evolving and making ground-breaking advancements that are shaping life as we know it. Helping with education, user experience, information storage, communication, and many more areas, technology is designed with what it can bring the user in terms of convenience.

With a sector of immeasurable popularity, comes a colossal number of companies investors must shuffle through. It is important to remember that name popularity does not always equal a good return on investment. All public companies begin from the same starting point and have tofile for an IPO. With media attention usually focusing on a few set names, we wanted to bring something new to the table for investors.

What are the new tech IPO investors can watch out for?

Trax Image Recognition was founded in 2010 and is currently headquartered in Singapore. Trax focuses on delivering technology that carries out merchandise scanning using a mobile app and specialised high-tech cameras. Operating in more than 90 countries, Trax delivers sale control and efficiency for some of the most well-known brands in the world including Coca-Cola, Unilever, Shell, and Heineken. Currently, Trax is a leader in its sector, holding 23 patents, and is included in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500. Recently, Trax announced the acquisition of Qopius, a Paris-based company that provides in-store technology solutions using artificial intelligence in Europe. This new acquisition helped the company come to a valuation of more than £1.6bn($2bn).

Cohesity is a ‘secondary data storage’ company located in San Jose, California. Founded in 2013, Cohesity provides its customers a sanctuary to store non-critical data, such as backups, development copies, and analytics. Their primary customers include Cisco Systems Inc. and NASA whereby they provide data management services. Cohesity has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an IPO with a preliminary market valuation of £2.9bn ($3.7bn), a significant increase from its £2.2bn ($2.5bn) valuation last year. Cohesity’s total funding is £340m ($420m), and investors may see the IPO take place in the next couple of months.

Byju’s is an Indian startup company that has developed an educational app with a focus on the Indian and U.S markets. As of December 2021, it has more than 115 million registered users. Byju’s founders Bew Ravindran and Divya Gokulnath said the company could have had a revenue of £1bn ($1.3bn) in 2021. As of December 2021, the startup was valued at $21 billion($21bn), making it India’s most expensive startup and one of the most expensive EdTech projects globally. Byju’s expects a valuation of more than £36.4bn ($45bn) according to TechCrunch. The total investment over time has been £3.6bn ($4.5bn) and is due to go public at the end of 2022.

Rubrik is a technology startup company founded in 2014, based in Palo Alto, California. Rubrik specializes in cloud-based data management software and is the fourth biggest player in the data management and storage market. They have recently acquired a Seattle-based data management company called Igneous Software Systems. With this new acquisition, and as of the last funding round, Rubrik has a valuation of £2.7bn ($3.3bn). With total funding of £444m($553bn), Rubrik is one of the industry’s largest privately-held data protection software providers and is a company investors should keep their eyes on over the coming months.

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