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Gamification motivates consumers to reduce power consumption peaks – pilot sites in Helsinki, Nice and Vienna


In collaboration with the international CITYOPT project, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed an energy planning tool for experts and an application for consumers. The tools have been piloted in Helsinki, Nice and Vienna, with promising results. Local energy costs were reduced by 15% and carbon dioxide emissions by 30% using the optimal planning feature of the tool for experts. Using the game-like tablet application, almost 80% of the households involved managed to reduce their electricity consumption during peak times.

The CITYOPT Planning Tool, which was developed to meet the needs of energy experts and investors, enables optimisation of the energy planning of large-scale urban and regional systems.  The tool provides alternative plans with cost and functional evaluations, enabling the minimisation of energy costs and CO2 emissions, for example. It also provides holistic solutions instead of partial optimisation. Over the long-term, the benefits of urban planning are also passed on to the tax payer. The tool has been piloted in Helsinki and Vienna. Optimal planning at the case locations achieved reductions of around 15% in energy costs and 30% in CO2 emissions. The planning tool also markedly reduces the time required for planning.

Households willing to participate

The aim of the CITYOPT Operational Tool for consumers is to reduce the household load during peak-time power consumption and prevent problems with electricity production in advance.

The tablet application was piloted in 140 households in Nice during the project. Consumer trials showed that cuts in power consumption can be achieved when end users are sufficiently motivated.

Almost 80% of households reduced their electricity consumption when the need to do so arose.

The application provides information on household electricity consumption and how it can be reduced. It increases consumers' awareness of energy efficiency and their opportunities to influence their own consumption. The consumer can choose whether to participate in cutting his or her own electricity consumption and how, i.e., which load to shift temporally. For example, during peak loads consumers can lower the lighting power or change their laundry time. Participation is rewarded by allocating points for reducing and moving loads. The consumer can give his or her points to a local charity, with the power company paying the charity accordingly. This creates a direct, small energy saving for the consumer and financial benefits for charitable activities in the community, while electricity producers benefit from a more economical production method when avoiding peak production capacity. Consumers can save around EUR 5 per year, which is fairly small. However, this was anticipated since the aim was to shift power loads during peak-time consumption rather than actually lowering electricity bills. The need to shift consumption was brief, occurring between 6 pm and 8 pm on days during which peak electricity consumption was being reached.

CITYOPT project was coordinated by VTT, the project began in February 2014 and ended in January 2017. Its budget was EUR 3.9 million and EU FP7 was the funding agency. VTT, AIT from Austria, CSTB and EDF from France, Experientia from Italy, Helen Oy and the cities of Helsinki and Nice participated in the project.

Media material:


CITYOPT application for consumers:

The CITYOPT planning tool for energy experts and investors:

Image: (CITYOPT, Dohun Yang): The CITYOPT application's view for consumers, examples

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