Whole Energy Systems Accelerator

Calling all low carbon energy innovators in Scotland

Want to test your innovation in real homes, with energy networks, and get help to fund trials? Backed by the Scottish Government, we help innovators develop, test and launch new products and services to decarbonise UK homes.

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The Whole Energy Systems Accelerator (WESA) is a world-first energy innovation test and evaluation facility, enabling interactions between homes, energy networks, and market & policy frameworks to be tested in real-time and across a range of potential future energy system and market scenarios.

WESA combines Energy Systems Catapult’s real world test environment of over 500 digitally connected homes – the Living Lab – with PNDC’s unique power networks demonstration facility to research, test and accelerate multi-vector energy systems that stimulate the advancement of vital innovations needed to reach Net Zero.

The Scottish Government is investing £2.5m from the Green Jobs Fund to support and accelerate the development of WESA – including the creation of a ‘Living Lab Scotland’ of 300 homes linked to PNDC.

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Whole Energy Systems Accelerator - Calling for Scottish Innovators

The Challenge

Delivering Scotland’s 2045 Net Zero emissions target will require huge changes for domestic consumers in how they heat their homes and how they travel. Households and transport currently account for around 30% and 26% of the total energy used in Scotland, and 15% and 31% of carbon emissions respectively.

On average, this will require around 2,000 households and 3,000 petrol and diesel car owners in Scotland to switch to low carbon heating systems and electric vehicles every week between now and 2045.

To transition our economy at the pace needed, it is vital to understand the behaviour of consumers in their homes and the way this behaviour interacts with technology, networks, policy, regulation and commercial models. It is also essential to ensure new technology is affordable, benefits all consumers, and avoids creating new types of vulnerability.

The Solution

The Whole Energy Systems Accelerator is a multi-disciplinary partnership between the University of Strathclyde’s Power Networks Demonstration Centre and the Energy Systems Catapult’s Living Lab, working closely with industrial partners and policy makers.

WESA combines the partners’ strong reputations in energy systems innovation across electrical power systems, cybersecurity capabilities, whole energy system expertise, and consumer-focused capabilities. This makes it possible to test the physics, human behaviour, technology, and market aspects of new energy solutions concurrently and rapidly, thereby supporting the creation of a robust and affordable Net Zero energy system that considers consumers’ needs.

WESA will for the first time enable the interactions between activity in homes, energy networks, and market & policy frameworks to be tested concurrently across many different future energy scenarios.

UK innovators will be able to test smart products and services with real consumers to ensure they not only drive down carbon emissions but work with human behaviour to give people a great experience and concurrently with the physics of the energy systems to create robust physical and market systems fit for Net Zero.

Living Lab

The Living Lab is a real-world test environment where innovators can rapidly design, market-test and launch innovative energy products, services and business models with people in over 500 digitally-connected homes.

Established in 2017 and spread across England, Scotland and Wales with a variety of tenures, property types and demographics, the Living Lab is digitally open, interoperable and scalable.

With room-by-room sensors and a digital integration platform – innovations can be tested with mainstream smart meters, IoT devices, smart heating controls, battery storage, solar PV and electric vehicle chargers.

Living Lab leverages expertise from across Energy Systems Catapult including Consumer Insight, Business Model Innovation, Harnessing Digital and Data, Systems Engineering, Whole Systems Modelling and Markets, Policy and Regulation.

The Living Lab also provides national capability to test and demonstrate market arrangements, policy and regulations with real consumers – as we move towards a Net Zero carbon future.

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Power Networks Demonstration Centre

The PNDC facility is the most comprehensive destination to research, test and accelerate multi-vector energy systems and help shape the future of global energy solutions

Established in 2013, PNDC (Power Networks Demonstration Centre) is a unique facility offering a platform to accelerate the deployment and integration of energy networks and technologies through our advanced capabilities in system integration and collaborative industrial research.

PNDC performs accelerated technology testing in a controlled, real-world environment alongside a rich portfolio of research programs across all aspects of the energy system.

Leveraging highly-skilled research team, academic connections with the University of Strathclyde, state-of-the-art network assets and simulation systems to bridge the gap between ideas and deployment.

PNDC concentrate on three primary research focus areas, namely, digital substation, control room of the future, and integrated energy systems. Along with our focus areas, we have our Core Research Programme, which consists of six areas where we apply our knowledge and expertise.

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The Benefits

Transforming the whole energy system to Net Zero should unleash innovation that will drive clean growth, skills development, and job creation.

With funding from the Scottish Government, WESA will:

Scottish homes in the Living will enable innovators to trial and scale-up behind-the-meter innovations in heating, EV charging and storage technologies.

Testing with real consumers in real homes ensures Net Zero innovations not only drive down carbon emissions but work with human behaviour to give people a great experience and concurrently with the physics of the energy systems to create robust physical and market systems fit.

It is a real-world example of taking a whole systems approach to decarbonisation.

Whole systems innovation can drive clean growth, skills development, and job creation, supporting Scottish businesses to commercialise new net-zero services and products to capture a business opportunity estimated at £11bn by 2030 and £30bn by 2050, and creating thousands of jobs in the supply chain.

Working together, WESA will draw on a broad network of commercial and academic collaboration partners across all sectors of the energy industry. While there are at least 400 businesses in the central belt of Scotland alone – most of which are SMEs – that have relevant capabilities.

WESA will help to accelerate the realisation of Net Zero carbon emissions in Scotland by 2045, deliver long-term energy affordability for consumers, and contribute to reducing fuel poverty.

Figure 1: Whole Energy Systems Accelerator

Figure 1: Whole Energy Systems Accelerator

Partners

WESA industrial partners will be drawn from the heat, transport, electricity and communications sectors, delivering an unparalleled mix of technology and commercial expertise, to steer WESA operations and provide routes to commercial exploitation. Significant private sector interest is emerging from large energy companies, technology and equipment developers, SMEs and consumer groups.

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