A complex opportunity that transcends industry borders
As the old saying goes, it’s unwise to put the cart before the horse. But in the case of the UK’s burgeoning eMobility demand – and the infrastructure needed to charge millions of potential new electric vehicles – there’s a real danger of suddenly becoming a nation with way too many carts, and not nearly enough horses.
That was something we at Zühlke wanted to investigate when we applied and won funding for Innovate UK’s 'Prospering from the Energy Revolution' programme. In partnership with both the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and OFGEM, Innovate UK’s programme sought new ways to better utilise and harness data between sectors.
And that brief set us down an interesting path. With the UK targeting a ‘carbon neutral’ energy output by 2050 and banning the sale of new petrol or diesel cars from 2030, there are a lot of infrastructural hurdles to overcome in the near future. The most obvious is ensuring that there are enough EV charging points to meet this increased demand – some 500,000 in the next seven years. But this requires strategy.
‘What you can't do is just upgrade everything at once’, says Zühlke’s Head of Data and AI, Dan Klein, ‘because that’s just not practical. So you've got to be much smarter about where the demand is'.
The opportunity as we saw it, then, was to devise a tool that could link disparate datasets from the worlds of geography, transport, and energy.
‘Because we're looking across sectors’, explains Senior Data Engineer Charlie Roadnight, ‘we can see that – while there are pockets that are working well – it's overall not very holistic. It's not consistent. But when you join many datasets together, you can solve really big challenges that cut across sectors.
‘That’s the potential power of data ecosystems’.