Smart Systems and Heat

Introduction

Decarbonising heat is the biggest challenge the UK faces in terms of transforming the energy system to meet carbon reduction targets and achieve our clean growth ambitions.

Energy Systems Catapult is delivering the UK’s largest smart, consumer-focused project aimed at overcoming the barriers to the decarbonisation of residential heat – the Smart Systems and Heat (SSH) programme.

 

SSH Phase 1 (2015-2018) focused on developing capabilities, tools and insights for Local Energy System Modelling and Domestic Energy Services and was delivered by the Energy Systems Catapult for the Energy Technologies Institute.

 

SSH Phase 2 (2017-2019) focused on running consumer trials of smart energy services, exploring new business models and market structures (including interoperability) and developing Local Area Energy Plans within three local authorities areas. SSH2 was funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

 

The Challenge and Opportunity

Heating accounts for 37% of  total UK carbon emissions. Heating buildings accounts for around 20%, with around half of that the results of how we heat our homes. To achieve our 2050 target of Net Zero emissions, the UK’s 27 million households will need to rapidly adopt new low carbon heat solutions throughout the 2020s and 2030s.

Innovators are struggling to address this market failure and unlock the commercial opportunity, due to technical, regulatory, economic and social barriers that block new low carbon heat products, services and business models getting to market.

Digital technology has the potential to make low carbon heat a better, more consumer-friendly option for all UK households. 

The Project

The Smart Systems and Heat (SSH) programme is focusing on delivering the UK’s largest smart, consumer-focused project addressing the decarbonisation of residential heat, by building:
Deep understanding and evidence around consumer needs and how to harness low carbon solutions;
Key tools and capabilities to help industry, local authorities and policymakers.

SSH phase 1 was delivered by the Energy Systems Catapult for the Energy Technologies Institute.

SSH phase 2 being funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The programme was delivered in partnership with Newcastle City Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Bridgend County Borough Council.

Our Approach

SSH has taken a Whole Systems approach to help innovators address this market failure and unlock the commercial opportunity of low carbon heating.

1. Addressing the technical, regulatory, economic and social barriers that block new low carbon heat products, services and business models getting to market;

2. Bringing innovators, businesses, local authorities, networks, policy-makers, regulators and consumers together to investigate new energy market arrangements that deliver low carbon heating solutions at scale;

3. Establishing a range of platforms, capabilities, assets, modelling tools and insights to help innovators discover new low carbon heating solutions that consumers value.

Our Outputs

SSH Phase 2 – focused on developing capabilities, tools and insights on:

  1. Consumer trials of smart energy services – a 100-home trial in our Living Lab investigating how consumers use heat and testing their interest in buying ‘heat as a service’.
  2. Market transformation (new business models and market structures) – looking at new business models for energy services, the importance of interoperability and consumer protection, and the policy and regulatory context to enable this.
  3. Local Area Energy Planning – taking the local energy system modelling work from SSH1 and developing targeted, specific projects that demonstrate the ideas in practice, including Smart Energy Plans in the three local areas.

SSH Phase 1 – focused on developing capabilities, tools and insights on:

  1. Local Energy System Modelling – we designed a planning framework to help local government, energy networks and other key local stakeholders prepare for a low carbon future in an cost-efficient and strategic way.
  2. Consumer-focused Propositions – research revealing that consumers care more about their experience of using heat, than how it is delivered. From enjoying a hot shower to using heat to relieve pain, many consumers are initially unaware of the value that heat is adding to their lives. People care more about their experience of using heat what the type of device (eg. gas boiler, district heat, electric heat pump) is delivering the heat. We explored how the smart technology can help energy providers understand what consumers want from heating, turning passive bill-payers into discerning customers.
  3. Domestic Energy Services – we explored how profound changes in energy retail provision, such as selling Heat as a Service instead of purchasing of units of fuel, could drive the uptake of  low carbon heating solutions. This included the need for commercial, policy and regulatory opportunities to converge, and how the emerging ‘smart home’ could help consumers get high quality outcomes from low carbon heating.