Test new product, service and policy innovations with real consumers under future energy market and network scenarios

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Real people. Future markets. Tangible evidence.

What is the Whole Energy Systems Accelerator?

The Whole Energy Systems Accelerator (WESA) is a world-first energy innovation test environment that transports real households into future energy system scenarios.

Designed to give you the evidence needed for implementing new policies, making future business planning decisions and proving the viability of new flexibility business models, our bespoke WESA trials offer a unique testbed combining real homes with potential future energy market scenarios. For the first time, you can understand the consumers’ experience of living in the future.

WESA enables interactions between homes, energy networks, and market and policy frameworks to be tested in real-time, assessing impact across the whole system.

How do we do it?

WESA combines the Catapult’s Living Lab and PNDC’s capabilities in network emulation into a new facility enabling real-time simulations of future energy system scenarios, with real homes. This combination enables you to model the network impact of new innovations, and understand how innovations might perform under future market conditions. 

Learn more about how WESA works here.

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Can anyone conduct a WESA trial?

WESA supports all organisations that are innovating in domestic energy. This includes, but is not limited to:

Product and service innovators


Test new products and services for consumer experience, network impact, and ongoing value in future energy market conditions

A conventional product or service trial will tell you how your innovation will work in today’s energy market, but not how it might perform in future energy system scenarios. WESA provides a safe sandbox environment to test your innovation under future market conditions – giving you confidence in the future longevity of your product or service. Whether you work for a start-up, SME, or a national energy supplier, WESA can help you:

  • Test innovative products and services with real consumers, in real homes
  • Access homes who already have low carbon technologies, such as heat pumps, EVs, solar PV, batteries, and EVs, to test product interoperability, and trial flexibility and home energy management services
  • Quantify the value of flexibility your innovation could provide to energy networks

Unique to WESA, you can test all of the above in a safe sandbox that simulates future energy market and network conditions, to understand:

  • How changes in regulations around wholesale energy pricing would affect your business model
  • How your innovation would perform under future scenarios of very high renewable generation and high uptake of low carbon technologies in the home
  • How consumers would experience using your innovation under these future scenarios

Network and system operators

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Improve the performance of energy infrastructure and plan for future asset investment

Understand changing energy demand and how to optimise the grid in future energy system scenarios.

By using WESA, you can:

  • ​Select household types using a range of audience demographics available through our Living Lab and recreate a street, neighbourhood, or region to understand how a specific scenario might impact your energy network.
  • Analyse how a significant and near-future uplift in electricity usage with actual household behaviour might impact electricity demand profiles.
  • Assess whether low carbon technologies can provide the flexibility needed to balance a high-renewables grid in a way that works for consumers.

Policymakers and regulators


Test and refine your policy approach

New policies and regulations are seldom tested before implementation due to the cost, timescales and effort involved in running such pilots. WESA enables a new approach to policy and regulatory development allowing iterative testing and refinement based on hard evidence from consumers across GB and their impact on the wider energy system.

Without rigorous testing and refinement, it can be difficult to know whether a new policy or regulation will produce the intended outcomes for the networks, consumers, and the market.

WESA provides a safe environment for testing new policy and regulatory innovations which:

  • Reduces risk by testing with real consumers, under simulated future market and network conditions
  • Provides real world evidence that a policy or regulatory change would have the intended outcomes
  • Identifies and mitigates unintended consequences​
  • Supports designing additional and more stringent solutions
  • Helps quantify the benefits, as well as the costs​
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How does WESA work?

We extract live energy data from Living Lab homes that are using smart, clean tech innovations that could provide flexibility to the grid. The data is sent to PNDC and mapped to simulate a single street or neighbourhood – all in real time. 

PNDC takes the data and uses a real time digital simulator to demonstrate the impact on different network configurations, replicating those electricity loads on their real-life network test centre near Glasgow – to understand the physical impact on the electricity grid. 

Network impact data is then fed into the Catapult’s market emulator, created by our Systems Integration team, which can model and simulate various energy system conditions and test out different network pricing mechanisms that might be used in future – such as dynamic or RAG pricing. The Living Lab homes might then receive a price or control signal in real-time prompting a change in home energy usage – which provides a flexibility service to the grid. Updated usage data is sent to PNDC to close the feedback loop, and the cycle continues. 

Get in touch

The Whole Energy Systems Accelerator feedback loop

How is industry using WESA?

Cold snap research on heat pumps

Dozens of homes across the UK took part in an electric heating study to explore how UK Power Networks could unlock more capacity for low-carbon heating. 

Real-world consumer behaviour from UK Power Networks’ Neighbourhood Green project was analysed to understand the exact amount of electricity capacity required to keep residents feeling comfortable, during the winter period across 2022/23. The trial provided valuable data on how homeowners with different types of low carbon heating like heat pumps, underfloor heating or panel heaters, were using their systems to keep warm.   

The project used WESA to monitor energy use in homes with these technologies, and digitally mapped the households onto simulated networks. Engineers compared real-life data from around 60 houses with a model of a ‘one in 20’ freezing winter, where demand for electricity would be unusually high. 

A key finding was that in an urban situation, with only 30% of homes having heat pumps, local distribution transformers may be overloaded.  This means that planning the distribution network for heat demand will need to evolve.

This insight will help UK Power Networks plan its interventions efficiently to secure ‘room’ on the network for more heat pumps in future. 

UK Power Networks is planning £4.6 billion investment between 2023 and 2028. The company’s investment proposal covers a range of grid upgrades to make sure people can use low carbon technologies where and when they need, so nobody gets left behind in the transition to Net Zero. 

Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UK Power Networks, said: 

“It’s our job to make sure that our customers are able to connect low carbon heating easily and quickly, whenever they choose to do so. Neighbourhood Green is helping us gain valuable insight so we can plan ahead to make sure they have that choice.” 

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