In 2015, I was reading a PhD in energy storage and renewable energy. Studying in this field inspired me and I never felt like I was doing a days work. This was at a time where energy storage was beginning to show the early signs of something that could fundamentally change our energy system and working in that was an extraordinary privilege. People were interested in my work and that felt great.
At the same time however, I felt that much of the reporting around energy was overtly misinformed - nuclear, oil, coal, fracking and renewable energy all seemed to have huge misinformation. Imagine what it is like learning and researching a topic and reading and hearing complete lies all around you.
I felt frustrated in two ways. Firstly, I really felt that people deserved better data about how our energy system works. Secondly, I was worried that I lived in a bubble and that I misunderstood what was actually happening - maybe I was wrong!. To address this I formed MyGridGB- a platform about British energy. I wanted people to understand energy, enjoy the subject and engage with the data.
Setting MyGridGB up was, for me, a huge dilemma because knew that within me was a bias and I could have set up the service to preach my own view of the world. However, I refused to do that and I set up a service which just pushed data in a raw, unfiltered form. I wanted people to debate using real information and I needed to learn about how other people felt about energy. From the beginning I set a simple rule that anything I posted on Twitter or on my Website would be clear, simple and as matter of fact as possible. I actively encouraged debate around the same information and the same data by simply not expression an opinion about it. For example, take the following message:
"45% of British electricity in 2017 was produced using Natural Gas".
There are so many ways of reading that statement and here are a few:
1. Britain is addicted to gas
2. Britain needs to reduce gas usage to combat climate change.
3. France uses hardly any gas - why cannot Britain be the same.
4. Only 45%? I thought we used coal for 45% of our electricity
5. We must start fracking to continue stable electricity supplies
The list of responses goes on and on and the divergence of opinion is totally ok to me because in a world of misinformation and carefully managed media messaging I want MyGridGB to be a simple data repository that we can trust. The debates that happen on MyGridGB are healthy because people use the same facts to come to different conclusions.
You may ask how MyGridGB became MyGrid.orgI realised that the value of this data should get much more personal. Put simply, MyGridGB is just a single product and a single dataset which represents what a national electricity system is doing. Within energy there are thousands of stories of homes an businesses reducing bills, reducing carbon and generating power in different ways - but there is no platform for sharing and presenting those stories in a unified way.
Sometimes in life you meet inspiring people and the four people behind MyGrid.org are definitely that. Our thesis is that two neighbours on the same street might have vastly different energy bills and not know why. We realised that communities wanting to go low carbon do not have the data they need to make an informed decision on whether that is practical. We realised that, in a fast changing sector, good data has the power to drive great decisions.
MyGrid.org is about sharing and tracking those global energy stories from UK homes with solar and batteries to off-grid communities in remote Pacific Islands. It's also about doing so easily and openly. We want frackers and coal miners to sit alongside wind turbine fanatics and share their data and compare their notes. Quite frankly, the future security of our energy supply depends on us all working together.
I really hope that you enjoy this website, engage with it and grow it with us. We invite you to blog, share, tweet and talk - whatever the data tells us
Andrew Crossland, April 2018