Wow, where do we start? So much has happened in the last few months! It’s definitely time to provide another progress update. Keep on reading to learn more about how our projects are doing, news about funding and how the team is growing.
Before we start with the updates though, an important announcement: We're looking for a Program Manager who will bring calm and structure to our growing research and development process and our partner engagement. If that sounds like you or someone you know, please check out our full job description. Applications close on September 17th.
We were one of the successful applicants to the Google.org Impact Challenge on Climate. Not only did this mean great financial support for us, but also that we were also invited to join Google.org’s accelerator program which allowed us to listen to experts and work through how we scale OCF. We had some great conversations and now have pages and pages of notes - reflecting how much we took away from these sessions! A big thank you to Google.org and everyone who spent time with us through the program.
We will use this experience to grow OCF with increased purpose and focus, while the funding will accelerate our work on and scaling of the Solar Electricity Nowcasting project across Europe. There is some great press coverage off the back of the announcement which you can read in for example Wired and CNBC.
Further to that, we are delighted to announce another big award: We have teamed up with National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), to develop and deliver our solar electricity Nowcasting work for the British electricity grid. The project will be running for 18 months and it is being funded by the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) with around £500,000. You can read more about this in ESO’s press release, Bloomberg Green and CNBC.
Most importantly though, because of these awards and others we were able to hire our first two employees! We were blown away by the response to our first job ad - we received almost 200 applications to our job post for a Machine Learning Research Engineer. It was a very tough choice with applications showing both great skills and some really heartwarming enthusiasm for tackling climate change, and we now have two fantastic first employees: Jacob Bieker and Peter Dudfield!
Jacob previously worked at Google and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (where he was the first to use all of NASA's graphics processing units (GPUs) to develop a new machine learning model!) Prior to OCF, Jacob developed state-of-the-art machine learning models on petabytes of self-driving car data.
Peter has extensive hands-on experience in the energy industry through Siemens Gamesa Wind Power and Habitat Energy. He has implemented solutions in real-world energy systems and also holds a PhD in Fluid Dynamics from the University of Cambridge.
That’s us! From left to right: Jack, Flo, Peter, Jacob & Dan.
For our nowcasting project to predict solar electricity generation in the UK things have really started to progress in the last months:
To estimate how much photovoltaic energy will be produced, we first need to know where the solar PV systems are. At the moment this is not well known in the UK for all but the largest solar PV systems - particularly domestic systems are poorly documented.
Karan and Sol are continuing to make amazing progress on creating an app to boost the crowd-sourcing of solar panel locations. The idea is that anyone can walk around their local neighbourhood and take pictures of solar panels they see. Together with their GPS location, the pictures then get reviewed by volunteers before the extracted information is added to OpenStreetMap. They hope to release their app publicly later this year.
Over the next months we are looking forward to reviewing lots of applications for our Program Manager role, continuing to do more research on solar PVNowcasting using machine learning, writing more funding applications, identifying user needs and creating an MVP for Nowcasting! We are also planning to release more tools and datasets for Nowcasting so that we can maybe even run a public ML competition. Stay tuned.