This startup is using AI to tackle rising UK energy prices

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Verv plans to use AI to target low energy prices (Source: Getty)

Eco-tech startup Verv has developed new technology using artificial intelligence (AI) that it hopes will reduce ballooning energy bills by allowing consumers to trade excess energy.

The peer-to-peer, blockchain-based tool will use AI to allow customers with renewable energy supplies and battery storage to sell surplus power directly to neighbours at the best prices.

The company cited a 2016 study by Eurobat, the association for European battery makers, which found homeowners with renewable sources of energy use only 30 per cent of the energy they generate, or up to 60 per cent once battery storage technology develops.

Verv, which is part of Green Running, a London-based team of data scientists and machine learning experts focusing on the energy sector, has received a £250,000 grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis). It will use the funds to build a UK-wide simulation to inform Ofgem regulation around peer-to-peer energy trading, which is currently only used in Germany, Australia and Canada.

"Improving access to low carbon electricity at affordable prices is at the core of our mission,” said Peter Davies, chief executive and founder of Verv.

Research last month showed a series of hikes by UK energy providers has pushed up average energy costs by 5.3 per cent, causing bills to rise by the most in three years.

“We’re excited to be pioneering technology that could impact the movement towards a smarter and more flexible energy system in the UK – one that puts consumers at the heart of the grid," Davies said.

Verv is also working with the University College London (UCL) on blockchain applications in energy.

David Shipworth, who is leading UCL’s research in this area, said: “Combining this [Verv's] expertise with the transaction and authentication capabilities of blockchain creates what could become a key component in delivering cheaper and more sustainable energy to customers.”

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