I had the pleasure yesterday of being invited by Worcester, Bosch Group to attend their ‘Environment 2020’ annual awards luncheon. Now in its 15th year this event is an annual competition organised to recognise and reward installers who take an environmentally responsible approach to their work. Not only did I present the awards to nine worthy winners, but I also had the opportunity to have my picture taken with Bobby the Boiler who gave the awards in the children’s art competition. Some of the projects were interesting pairings of traditional heating and hot water sources with renewables technologies. I presented a few findings from Microgen Insight Service, encouraging installers to be open to working with new technologies and business models. Low carbon and renewable technologies will be a big part of the future heating market. There are question marks about how quickly and to what degree, but the direction of travel is clear. It depends on policy and the right products being available – but regardless of these, installers have a critical role to play to help grow the market.At the event, I heard anecdotal evidence that customers are actually starting to ask installers for their preferred smart thermostat or control system – something that would never have been heard of in the past when customers basically took what their installer gave them. But with the advent of high profile products from utilities (eg British Gas Hive), manufacturers (eg Worcester, Bosch Group Wave) and start-ups (eg Nest, acquired by Google), customers are becoming aware and informed. This supports what Delta-ee has been saying to our clients for some time, that there is the potential for disintermediation in the energy value chain. And, depending on a company’s existing routes to market and brand positioning, there could be big opportunities or threats. We see this as a key theme in the distributed energy market, and different aspects are examined in detail in both our Connected Home Service and Energy Services Innovation research.There seemed to be mixed views regarding the RHI, with some thinking that it still has promise and could lead to more customers buying low carbon products but others believe it to be too complex and the RHI simply doesn’t help many customers with their main problem: upfront cost. Delta-ee are still cautiously optimistic, but industry support and promotion of the RHI scheme remains low key. I’ve noticed, for example, that in manufacturers’ product brochures the RHI sometimes appears almost as a footnote. For the RHI to have an impact, it needs a much stronger push than that. For our latest research into customer awareness of the RHI see Jennifer’s recent blog on our RHI tracker. If you want to know more details about the Worcester, Bosch Group 2014 award winners and their projects, get in touch with me.Many thanks to Worcester, Bosch Group for the invitation to attend the event and visit their factory. It’s good to see the industry celebrating success and the high quality work from their installers, who have a vital role to play in the transforming energy market.