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Brexit adds uncertainty to tough times for the social housing sector, but innovation shines a light at the end of the tunnel

Brexit adds uncertainty to tough times for the social housing sector, but innovation shines a light at the end of the tunnel

The RSL sector needs help to remain the largest market for microgen in the UK – manufacturers and utilities must provide the momentum government measures do not.

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Profiling the next wave of low-carbon heating customers

With our Customer Panel research moving into the next stages it is time for another edition in our series of blogs looking at some of the key insights coming from this ongoing research.

Our first exercise conducted earlier this year showed that there continues to be a mismatch between customers who buy microgen and those who want to buy it. The biggest factor that plays into this is the fact that many customers who want to install often cannot afford the upfront investment. However, we find that they are more than open to using alternative funding options that would solve the upfront cost barrier.

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Customer Panel highlights: Homeowners prioritise heating system ‘reliability’, and respond positively to energy storage

In my last blog I introduced the Delta-ee Customer Panela brand new resource made up of 1,000 UK homeowners. Our panellists will participate in numerous exercises throughout the year, enabling us to explore in detail customer attitudes to heat, energy, technologies, new business models, to name a few the key uses.

In this post I share some interesting findings from our first research piece with the panel and look specifically at what our participants say about the opportunity for energy storage.

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Delta-ee launches brand new Customer Panel

We are very excited to announce the launch of the Delta-ee Customer Panel. This is a brand new resource made up of 1,000 panellists who will participate in a series of research exercises – to be conducted mainly as part of our ‘Heat Insight Service’ (HIS) programme for 2016/17.

The panel is made up of a highly-representative sample of UK homeowners – whose views, feedback and experiences will provide unique insight as we help our clients identify the key opportunities for growth in the domestic heating sector (which, irrespective of recent political events, will remain the continent’s largest heating market).

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PV deployment in 2015 eclipsed all other years – but what will give the market a jolt as the sun sets on the Feed-in Tariff era?

According to DECC residential PV (< 4kWp) has just had its record year, with 172,318 installations in 2015 (topping the previous one in 2012 with ~160,000 installations).  This was aided by the noticeable surge of installations towards the end of the year due to expected and finally confirmed Feed-in Tariff (FiT) cuts that took place at the start of this month.

While January of this year is still expected to show some of the surge from the customers that were jumping on the last train of the old FiT rate, there is a lot of uncertainty around the future of the UK market. Are subsidy cuts the beginning of the end for residential PV? Or, will innovations in technology and finance step in to continue the market development towards bright future? 

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The power of up-close and personal

Low carbon heating techs are demonstrated ‘live’ to home-owners – and micro-CHP proves very popular.

As part of Delta-ee’s Microgen Insight Service, 36 intrepid UK home-owners came to the Baxi UK test lab in Warwick in July this year. They had been prepared for the evening by reading a description of five low carbon or renewable heating technologies, prepared by Delta-ee. During the evening they were shown examples of these products running in a test facility, and had the chance to ask questions.

At the start of the sessions, the participants were asked about their attitudes towards the technologies, and whether they could see themselves installing one (or any of them) in their home. At this initial stage, air source heat pumps (ASHP) were generally the preferred technology.

But following live demonstration of each of the products, during which time people also had the chance to ask questions from the expert demonstrator, this picture had changed dramatically. Micro-CHP’s popularity had soared by the end of the demos, based on the design they were shown.

So what made micro-CHP so appealing?

Among the top reasons given were:

  • It doesn’t take up much space: people could see it fitting into their homes, in the place of the current boiler.
  • It can be fitted without making significant changes to the home. Customers said they were less interested in having a heat pump (ground source or air source) once they were told there was a chance they might have to upgrade their radiators.
  • They liked the idea of being paid to generate electricity via the Feed-in Tariff. The rising popularity of solar PV over in the UK, thanks to the Feed-in Tariff, has probably helped here, in warming people up to the idea that they can be paid for generating electricity. However, since these focus groups, the Government has announced a consultation on the FiT (announced on Friday 28th August) – which might make this less of a selling point in the future.

 So what 3 things can the micro-CHP industry learn from this?

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