Innovation provides important and additional options for addressing fuel poverty in the UK. Many people in the UK struggle to get access to the cheapest energy, afford the most efficient technology or know what is the best way to use the energy they buy.
In order to understand how to design and deliver services to consumers facing difficulties with low household incomes and the high cost of adequate energy in their homes, Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) is trying to better understand what people need and want from energy in their home.
With greater insight of vulnerable customers’ needs and challenges, organisations will be able to explore the opportunities for innovation that enable people to access the energy they want and develop new products and services.
This could decrease the risk undertaken in innovation, for both businesses and consumers, and could be applied to developing new propositions, improving customer handling procedures and meeting new policy obligations and changes.
Phil New, CEO at Energy Systems Catapult, said: “The ability to access heat to stay warm, heat food and keep clean should be a basic human right that is available to all of us, yet a significant proportion of society are still considered to be ‘fuel poor’.
“Digitalisation and decarbonisation is transforming the energy system, and there is no doubt of the huge potential for innovation to improve the lives of those in fuel poverty.”
ESC is partnering with organisations from various sectors to develop a programme – Fair Futures – to better understand the issues faced by a range of vulnerable energy consumer groups. This will enable us to identify the areas where commercial, governmental, community and householder needs and motivations could be aligned to provide more effective policies, products and services.
Our recent projects include:
- The Fair Energy Futures Bootcamp – the first of its kind to be held in Britain, aimed to harness the powers of collaborative working and creativity to look at what might be achieved. From this, we have developed a free online tool, Lets Beta Fuel Poverty, which ‘scores’ potential innovations on how they will impact consumers living with fuel poverty. The tool uses a collaboratively devised set of measures by experts from small and large energy suppliers, housing associations, consumer advocacy agencies, distribution network operators, academics, local government and fuel poverty charities.
- Fair Futures: A Welsh Government commissioned consortium project led by Cardiff University – aims to identify how common factors experienced by households, now and in the future can lead to fuel poverty. Working with experts and households, the project will also help to create and test innovations to address issues of vulnerability in a future low carbon energy system. The project is led by the Understanding Risk group at Cardiff University, which brings together staff from the Schools of Psychology and Social Sciences, working with Energy Systems Catapult.
Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs said: “Wales is pleased to be involved in the UK Fair Futures Programme as part of a consortium with Energy Systems Catapult.
“Our first project is led by Cardiff University working with the Catapult. This project is initially focused on consumer insights of fuel poverty in Bridgend to help understand how to design and deliver services to consumers facing difficulties and to better understand what people need and want from energy in their home.
“We have invested over £240m in fuel poverty programmes since 2011 and it is important to ensure vulnerable households are able to grasp opportunities arising from the new smart agenda in energy as well as wider associated activities such as health and transport.
If you’d like to be involved in ensuring the future energy system works for everyone through new policies, products, services and strategies please get in touch with us.