Living Lab

Introduction

To deliver innovations that put the consumer at the heart of the energy system transformation, it is vital to test innovations directly with consumers in real-world scenarios.

Energy Systems Catapult has created a Living Lab that offers innovative energy providers and device manufacturers the opportunity to test new products, services and business models in over 100 real-world consumer homes, upgraded to smart home levels that will be common by the middle of 2020s, by connecting to our cloud-based digital platform.

The Challenge and Opportunity

There is a growing consensus that to overcome the barriers to energy system transformation, we need to put consumers at the heart of the system. The telecoms sector has used market feedback to decide what networks and how much capacity to build. This has revealed consumers are willing to pay for unlimited broadband access and mobile coverage. Similar techniques could help the energy sector decide how to transform the system.

The biggest challenge to transforming the energy system to meet carbon reduction targets is heat. If we are to meet our 2050 carbon reduction targets we need to be transforming one million homes a year to low carbon heat by 2025 – in 2016 only about 20,000 homes installed low carbon heating.

However, solutions emerging to overcome these barriers, include:

  • Consumer-focused solutions utilising digital and data technology that provides improve control over the cost of heat and comfort for residents in their homes; and improved understanding of consumers and their homes for innovators;
  • New market arrangements and regulations that would encourage innovation in new products, services and businesses models – including behind-the-meter energy services.

Since the winter of 2016, Energy Systems Catapult has been developing unparalleled insights into running energy services trials in real-world consumer homes, undertaking detailed analysis of the vast array of consumer and technical data captured.

Our Asset

Energy Systems Catapult has created a Living Lab of over 100 real-world homes spread across the UK, with each property upgraded to smart home levels that will be common by the middle of the 2020s.

Each home is connected to our cloud-based digital platform, the Home Energy Services Gateway (HESG), which uses extensive in-home IoT sensors/actuators, advanced data science and machine learning algorithms, providing residents with room-by-room temperature control from a mobile app.

HESG is an open, technology agnostic platform that draws on over four million data points per home per day and offer interoperability between energy service providers and device manufacturers, enabling them to test new products, services and business models directly with consumers.

Our Approach

The Living Lab allows proof of concept tests of innovative products, services and business models to understand consumer expectations and real-world behaviour.

Our Living Lab asset allows:

  • Energy providers unparalleled experience in the domestic energy services market, unique whole-system modelling tools and access to the 100-home test bed;
  • Device manufacturers and technology companies a proven, government-backed test bed to provide hardware and technology performance validation.

Experts from across the Catapult in Consumer Insight, Digital & Data, and Systems Integration can help innovators design, develop and run trials in the Living Lab to discover how people use energy in the home and the potential of emerging energy services and energy products.