Hacking the Future of Energy

by Blog

Join us to explore, develop and win funds for your solution to the energy crisis. Apply now

Friday 2nd Nov – Sunday 4th Nov / Manchester / Ages 16+ / Free


This event will bring together technology developers, social innovators and social scientists to find what new technology and models could make the energy system fairer and more equitable.

The winning team will receive a £2,000 prize, opportunities to develop a business case and pitch to funders.

The hack will start at 6pm on Friday 2nd November and finish by 2pm on Sunday 4th November. Sessions will take place across the weekend with great food, time to socialise, network and dance thrown in to the mix.


Electricity supply has been dominated by big corporations or nationalised companies with local communities and individuals having little say about where their energy comes from, how it is generated or who it benefits.

But, the generation, distribution and supply of energy is changing with the more renewables, battery storage and developments in smart metering and smart grid technology. These changes create the opportunity to rethink who energy is for and who controls it. New technological tools and changing sources of electricity, might enable alternative ways of managing, sharing, buying and distributing electricity. What would this look like? And what would the social effects of such a system be?

The Hack Lab invites proposals to tackle these questions with creative suggestions and innovative ideas to bring energy back to the people.

Do you have an idea for an app or platform that might put energy in to people’s hands?

Or a new business or governance model for the ownership and control of energy?

Is there an idea or a working model from another sector that could be deployed in the energy world?

Open source standards and systems, solar generation, EV charging, battery storage, DIY renewables, Blockchain technology, social enterprises, co-operative platforms – all these elements may have a role to play in your idea.

During the Hack Lab you will be supported to develop your ideas into a concrete proposal that is technically and financially viable, environmentally sustainable and builds on principles of equity, democracy and social participation.


Participants will work over the full weekend (with breaks for meals and sleeping!) in small groups to workshop an idea and on Sunday, you will pitch to a panel of judges. The winning team takes a £2,000 cash prize and support from experienced energy system practitioners to develop their idea further. Don’t worry, if you are new to this format, there will be people to help.


  • Facilitation, advice and help from a team of experienced energy system practitioners.
  • An enjoyable workspace with break out rooms, kitchen facilities and high-speed broadband.
  • Food and drink.
  • Entertainment on Friday and Saturday evening.
  • Participant matching to build teams.
  • A £2,000 prize for the winning team.
  • Advice and support on taking your idea to the next stage.


  • Cover your travel costs to the event.
  • Find your own accommodation.
  • Bring your own laptop or work tools.


You can either apply with an idea or a skill set to offer others.

We will bring together different practitioners who we believe are key to making the future of our energy system more equitable:

People trying to bring energy back to communities e.g. practitioners in social enterprise, co-operative and community business, co-production, social design, social innovation, policy development.

Energy-system engineers, coders, technology innovators and entrepreneurs, who are devising technical solutions to the challenge of a changing energy system.

Researchers with expertise in the social and political effects of different kinds of energy systems.

People who are excited about finding creative solutions for real world problems!

This is also an event for people to learn from and with each other, so if you are new to this field, but passionate about the issue, please apply.


Apply now by filling in this simple form. We will form 5-6 teams of max 8 people. You can register as a team or we will help you to form teams at the event.

The deadline for applications is Monday 1st October 2018. We will get back to you within 2 weeks.


The event is organised and facilitated by the Carbon Co-op, anthropologist Hannah Knox (University College London) and community business practitioner Britt Jürgensen (Homebaked Community Land Trust).

The event is funded by British Academy, UCL Grand Challenges, and the ESRC Festival of Social Science.