The Energy Systems Catapult has announced that over 2,000 homes in the UK are now part of the voluntary Living Lab programme to test tech innovations that will help to achieve net zero goals.
The programme offers tech developers a real world testing environment to trial in-home technologies, energy services and policy and marketplace innovations.
The Living Lab has hosted trials by companies like Amp X, arbnco, Sunamp, AirEx, and UK Power Networks. The programme has grown from just 100 homes in 2017, and includes a range of types of homes in different parts of the UK, with 1,358 of them in England, 549 in Scotland, 110 in Wales, and 22 in Northern Ireland.
The Living Lab has helped develop the understanding of clean tech innovations and their impact on consumer behaviour. The Living Lab’s consumer insights team look at both quanititative assessments of products and qualitative assessments of how consumers feel about them.
For example, Amp X trialled its digital energy assistant ‘ALICE’ in 60 Living Lab homes to better understand how homes can reduce their energy costs and carbon intensity.
Dr Irene Di Martino, CEO of Amp X said: “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.”
We’ve now grown @energysyscat Living Lab to over 2000 homes. That’s a lot of real consumers who are keen to test new low carbon energy products, services and policies. If you’re a UK energy innovator let’s talk😀 https://t.co/Wr62PB84ia #energytech— Claire Rowland (@clurr) July 13, 2023
Recently, thermal storage manufacturer Sunamp received £9.24 million from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) to trial its thermal storage system in Living Lab homes, while UK Power Networks made use of the Whole Energy Systems Accellerator to monitor energy use by homes with low carbon heating tech like heat pumps.
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.”
Becky Sweeney, business leader for homes at Energy Systems Catapult said: “A new idea or whizzy bit of kit may work well in a test lab, but we want to know if it really makes a difference – to real people, with real demands on their time, and real budgets. Our pioneering Living Lab is helping the UK’s clean tech innovators to unleash their creativity and advance technologies that place our journey to Net Zero at their heart, without losing sight of the needs of the end-consumer.”
“With over 2,000 digitally connected homes – and more and more households showing their interest every day-, there is no better place for clean tech innovators to test, trial, and develop their products and services in a real-world environment”.