Smart Systems and Heat

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The Smart Systems and Heat (SSH) programme is a collaborative project exploring how to accelerate to market innovations that decarbonise domestic heating.

This is a task that encompass not only technical innovation, but also new thinking about the relationship between the energy system and the people who use it – and new thinking about the market and delivery structures to support these new relationships between household and provider.

The challenge comes from two areas. Firstly, that the energy market traditionally has been producer-orientated and ‘top-down’, with electricity, gas and oil produced and charged on a volume, rather than experience, basis. Secondly, the carbon-reducing initiatives most easy for customers to engage with have already been put in place. People buy benefits, ultimately, so instead of judging the success of our energy system by how well it works for generators and distributors selling a commodity, the SSH programme is based on the principle of customer experience and engagement.

SSH is rooted in taking a whole systems approach and is developing a set of platforms, insights and tools. There are five elements:

  1. Creating a Home Energy Services Gateway, which enables a change in the customer-supplier dialogue from units of energy input to a language of service outcomes instead.
  2. Establishing a test bed with this Gateway in real homes, opened to innovators seeking to become energy services providers that sort out integration to deliver service outcomes.
  3. Enabling policy makers to work with these innovators in this test bed to explore new options for carbon policy, tackling fuel poverty, protecting consumers and so on.
  4. Creating a platform, EnergyPath Networks, to enable a dialogue between local authorities, network operators and energy services providers to plan local infrastructure.
  5. Creating a platform, EnergyPath Operations, to help the sector explore new system architectures that put understanding, shaping and delivering customer value at the core.

Doing this makes the chances of success far greater for the UK to achieve its challenging targets, and for creating substantive new export opportunities by enabling UK innovators to be at the forefront of a new paradigm for customer service in the energy sector.

The Smart Systems and Heat programme was commissioned by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) in 2012 to focus on creating future-proof and economic local heating solutions for the UK. We have delivered phase one of the programme to the ETI, with the demonstration of the methodologies and technologies developed in the first phase taken forward by ourselves independent of the ETI.

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