Management Science students work with BES Utilities to reduce energy costs

Dmitry and Rimpy

21 June 2016

A group of Masters students have teamed up with a commercial energy supplier to undertake research aimed at reducing energy costs for customers.

The Lancashire-based power firm BES Utilities will be working with the group to develop new forecast systems which more accurately gauge gas and electricity consumption across the UK.

Analysing a combination of historical data, including peak usage times and seasonal trends, together with up-to-the-minute weather factors such as temperature and wind speed, the team will be able to systematically and precisely forecast customer demand.

The new data-driven system will enable BES to more accurately buy wholesale power at the most competitive price.

This will not only be beneficial for the company, in terms of assisting its long-term planning and efficiency, but should ultimately lead to lower bills for BES’s 40,000-plus gas and electricity customers – the majority of whom are small businesses.

David Ballantyne, BES Utilities’ Chief Financial Officer, said: “We are committed to developing and implementing new systems which enable us to pass on the benefits to our customers.

“The wholesale gas and electricity market fluctuates massively over the course of any given month, week and day due to demand and so forecasting accuracy is crucial to keep costs down for customers.

“For example, in April, which was actually colder than December, we saw prices fluctuate between £45 per megawatt hour (Mwh) to £500 per Mwh. This shows the need to have systems in place which can more accurately predict customer needs and demand.

“This new collaboration with Lancaster University, which is home to Europe's leading centre for forecasting research, will allow us to update our current systems and better plan in terms of forecasting supply and demand.”

Masters students Dimitry Ishutim and Rimpy Malik are now working at BES’s Fleetwood headquarters under the supervision of Professor John Boylan, the University’s lead in the field of forecasting.

Not only will the research form a vital part of the configuration of BES’s new systems, but it will also allow the two students to conclude their MSc studies and potentially open the way for them to gain jobs in the hugely competitive energy supply market.

Russian student Dimitry, 22, who is studying MSc Management Science and Marketing Analytics, said: “This is a really exciting project. We are enjoying being part of the BES team and developing new systems which will help the company.”

Rimpy, 24, from Delhi, who is studying MSc Operational Research and Management Science,added: “Through the university, we were given a number of options as to which companies to work with and we both chose BES because we could see how we could use our skills in forecasting to develop new systems to benefit the company.”

Professor Boylan said: “As Europe's leading centre for forecasting research, we develop applied research with companies, transfer knowledge between academia and business and build best practices in methods, processes and systems.

“We are delighted to be working with BES Utilities and believe our expertise can help the company best develop new systems which will be invaluable for both BES and its customers.”


(Photograph courtesy of Stefan Willoughby.)