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Managing domestic energy assets for the benefit of households and networks
Homes of the future will increasingly have multiple energy assets such as electric vehicles (EVs), , solar PV and battery storage systems. The MADE (Multi Asset Demand Execution) project is all about understanding how to manage these multiple energy assets in a way that is both beneficial to the homeowner and the energy networks.
Poor customer service is one of the big drivers of churn in energy retail. It’s not difficult to recall a time when you’ve felt underwhelmed when querying an inaccurate electricity bill, when trying to understand a change in payment plan or when changing account after moving home.
But under the surface, there’s a fair amount of innovation happening to address customer pain points, particularly in the digital space. Our research points to a transition away from the traditional approach centred around operational efficiency towards a customer-first approach.
The UK has an opportunity to incorporate smart technology and Internet of Things (IoT) into its physical, energy and transport infrastructure, to improve public services and the overall quality of life for its citizens. Over the past few years, the National Government and UK Local Authorities (LA) have been taking proactive steps to implement and support this smart city transition, with key cities such as Bristol, London and Manchester pledging carbon neutrality by 2050 or earlier.
City-wide and integrated approach
Energy is becoming more distributed and localised. We’re seeing the emergence of local energy communities, Microgrids and a whole plethora of potentially disruptive business models. To some this represents a challenge to their core business, to others it promises exciting new opportunities.
Today’s Distribution System Operators may fear the threat of grid defection. Even if there remain substantial income generating assets, these may become under-utilised and incrementally less profitable as new entrants cherry-pick the more profitable parts.
Delta-ee recently supported Wales & West Utilities’ strategic work looking into the future role of gas in the UK as part of an integrated cross-vector energy system. We helped Wales &West Utilities develop a new generation of their 2050 Energy Pathfinder Model that assesses the impact of different future energy mixes on the balance of electricity and gas supply and demand for any size population in the UK. The main objectives of the rebuild were to critically review the methodology and assumptions, streamline the model methodology, and improve the model’s user interface.
The model simulates hourly supply and demand profiles for gas and electricity across a defined region for a sample year. Together with existing sources and demands, new sources such as tidal barrage, and demands such as EVs are included, alongside fuel switching between the electricity and gas vectors (for example, using hybrid heat pumps). This enables a range of storage, demand response and new technology innovations to be simulated. The model outputs the following results:
Last Thursday I attended the UK’s 2018 Heat and Decentralised Energy Conference. There were several exciting sessions on policy, technology, infrastructure and customers – reflecting a market that is starting to see a lot of change and disruption. Tim Rotheray, Director of the Association for Decentralised Energy, gave what I thought was an especially interesting talk on why he believes the time for Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) has finally come.
Whether Energy-as-a-Service will lead to the death of the kilowatt-hour, as Tim suggested, has been a topic of debate within Delta-ee. We agree that customer culture is certainly changing. The trend from product and commodity towards services and outcomes is emerging across multiple industries. Customers will pay for services’ outcomes (such as comfort or mobility) rather than products and commodities (such as fuel). Just look at car leasing, music streaming and even clothing rental.
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