Quick, safe and affordable. Rapidly design, market-test and launch innovative energy products, services and business models with real people in over 500 connected homes
Accelerating zero carbon innovations into UK homes
Decarbonising UK homes is one of the hardest challenges on the way to Net Zero.
Energy Systems Catapult created the Living Lab to offer a safe, quick and affordable, real-world test environment to de-risk and scale innovations by running trials directly with consumers in their homes.
With over 500 digitally connected smart-homes, 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 with mainstream smart meters, IoT devices, smart heating controls, battery storage, solar PV and electric vehicle chargers.
Innovative businesses can rapidly design, market-test and launch smart energy products, services and business models.
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.
Open for energy innovation trials to accelerate commercialisation
Validate the performance of your product or service with real consumers in real homes
Understand how people use your product or service, what they like and dislike
Value for money
No need to build your own lab or recruit your own trialists (but help can help you recruit your own if preferred)
Your trial could be up and running in 2–3 months, with up to 500 homes ready to test innovations
Making sure you product integrates and works alongside other technologies
Established and trusted
A national asset helping energy innovators since 2015 – backed by Government to test and demonstrate market arrangements, policy and regulations
What we offer
Energy Systems Catapult is truly open, interoperable and scalable, offering real-world testing of new energy products, services and business models to de-risk and scale innovations for market.
Innovative energy products and smart devices can be installed quickly to deliver data of performance in real homes
Trialling energy service propositions with real people including bundling energy with low carbon products.
Carry out behind-the-meter trials on products and digital platforms that provide network flexibility services
Trial customer value propositions with real consumers to ensure that you can make a profit.
Harnessing Digital and Data
Get support from our data scientists and AI algorithms or access to a wealth of existing consumer and technical data
Consumer Insight & Proposition Design
Energy market research, user experience (UX) and service design, and consumer trials. Helping innovators see beyond what people say to understand what they do.
Why do we need a Living Lab?
Digitalisation and decarbonisation are likely to reverse the current value flow from the centralised, supply-side dominated system to the consumer side of the meter.
A new wave of technology and service firms is likely to focus on exploiting this value behind the meter, but the UK supply chain is not geared up to respond to the new value drivers.
No-one is clear how to respond. Policy makers can’t design new market arrangements because they lack evidence on the efficacy of one choice versus another; investors can’t evaluate returns, either in assets or in innovation, as they don’t know how the future market will operate; while regulators can’t design rules to protect consumers since they don’t know which solutions are viable and will get traction. Without change, the likely outcome is disrupted and fragmented value chains, and stranded assets.
The energy sector is thinking hard about how to play in a smarter, more connected world. Suppliers are considering selling services. Manufacturers are trying to sell connected home products. The potential changes needed in the supply network are unknown. It’s difficult to find out what consumers will value.
The potential opportunities are huge:
- Statista (2019) estimate that the UK smart homes market will have a value of £2.6bn by 2024. Imperial College (2018) estimate that smart electric heat could generate system savings of £3.9 billion a year. The investment opportunity to retrofit UK homes is estimated at £100 billion.
Energy Systems Catapult has built the Living Lab to help the UK energy sector, Government and regulators create a Net Zero energy system with consumers at the heart.
Innovators using the Living Lab
Product Performance & Consumer Insight
Scottish innovator arbnco is trialling a new digital air quality platform with consumers in the Living Lab with the aim of reducing indoor air pollution, improving ventilation, and safeguarding health.
Around seven million deaths worldwide, and 40,000 in the UK, are attributed to air pollution each year. Yet indoor air quality – including levels of carbon dioxide (CO₂), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) – can often be overlooked compared to outdoor air quality linked to vehicle emissions, despite being up to five times worse in places.
Analysing the air quality results with data on the property and occupants will allow arbnco to deliver alerts on potential harms and advice on mitigating health impacts.
With a growing focus on improving ventilation in buildings due to Covid-19, coupled with the need to improve energy efficiency and therefore the airtightness of homes, the global ventilation market is expanding rapidly, already exceeding £2b in value and expected to reach almost £9b by 2027.
The Living Lab trial comes in the slipstream of arbnco being awarded almost £300k in funding from Innovate UK’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition, which is supporting innovators in developing and demonstrating new products and services which monitor a wide range of household pollutants.
arbnco believe there is a strong market for their solution with housing portfolio owners, such as the private rented sector and with purpose-built student accommodation, as well as with equipment manufacturers – including Mitsubishi, who are aiming to integrate arbnco’s air quality platform into their domestic ventilation systems for testing.
AirEx Technologies was the first company to trial a product in the Living Lab.
Testing a smart ventilation control — an intelligent air brick — the Living Lab Airex with performance validation and consumer feedback to refine their offering.
AirEx has since attracted further investment, regulatory acceptance and increased their turnover fivefold, including:
- Selected as one of only five technologies approved by energy regulator Ofgem for the ECO 3 Scheme.
- Secure funding from IUK in the ‘Innovation in response to global disruption’ competition, designed to boost economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 (improving indoor air quality for vulnerable people).
“The data that the Living Lab provided us, helped us accelerate our evidence gathering from 24 to 12 months — which is absolutely crucial for a small start-up like Airex.”
Flexibility & Consumer Insights
Amp X are developing an autonomous, digital energy assistant ‘ALICE’ with a trial in the Living Lab. The ALICE platform aims to help UK households reduce their energy costs and carbon intensity through autonomous demand-side-response decisions based on real-world market signals.
ALICE will schedule energy usage by household devices’ when the energy is greenest and cheapest, with the aim that households could benefit by providing flexibility to local networks to improve grid resilience and maximise renewable energy usage.
The trial sees the ALICE energy assistant installed in 60 Living Lab homes and working with our Consumer Insight specialists to understand household experiences, test the benefits and to understand customer value proposition.
“Consumer engagement is a key barrier to demand–response as a scalable non–wire alternative. Energy Systems Catapult’s analysis helped us validate what features of our solution work best for different user–types and properties to help sell the benefits to the consumer market.”
Dr Irene Di Martino
Head of Amp X
Arrange a free virtual session with the Living Lab team to discuss a range of options for how best to deliver your trial.Contact us