Land of the MUSCos

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: School of Earth and Environment

Abstract

Present infrastructure service delivery, characterized by isolated supply streams for an uncontrolled demand, is uneconomical, inefficient, and ultimately unsustainable. What kinds of alternatives can be identified and implemented?
In this project, we intend to research and promote the establishment of Multi-Utility Service Companies, or MUSCos. The defining characteristics of a MUSCo are (1) the single point of service to multiple utilities; and (2) profiting from service delivery, not selling physical products. The emphasis on service delivery represents a paradigm shift away the supply and demand of physical flows (energy, water, etc) to the supply of services (ambient temperature, illumination, food preservation, cleanliness, etc). The lower the energy and water consumption of its clients, the higher the MUSCo's profit - as long as the MUSCo maintains the requested level of service provision. A MUSCo model integrates the end-user, through the establishment of contracts based on explicit service requirements, driving innovation through a focus on performance. It would lead to greater integration of infrastructures and utility streams, since the MUSCo would be a single point of service, aggregating information and enabling common planning. The MUSCo model could also be expected to encourage more adaptable and resilient infrastructure design, enabling demand management through greater integration of information and knowledge of the end-user requirements. Like infrastructure itself, MUSCos are a means to an end: the ultimate goal is the radical expansion of the best possible technology and efficiency measures, leading to large verified savings in resource use and reductions in carbon emissions.
The goal of this project is to bring the age of the MUSCos forward: to characterize possible multi-utility service-based performance contracting, to understand the current opportunities and barriers to MUSCo development, and to realistically model the socio-technical systemic changes required for a true MUSCo expansion. Moreover, by bringing together engaged stakeholders from the user and provider communities, we hope to test MUSCo ideas in a present day context.
The methodology is based on the combination of three complementary components:
1. The investigation of multi-utility service contracts (including technical challenge of defining integrated services with possible substitutability of utility streams to satisfy the service demand). Where examples exist, we will search for best practices;
2. The survey of the governance landscape, regulatory and incentive structures of the different utilities, producers, distributors and other connected actors, to map the drivers, motivations and constraints of the current entities; and
3. The combination of these two streams of information into an integrated socio-technical model using the rules and inter-linkages defined in the previous components and capable of exploring future governance and technical scenarios.
This methodology is intended to aggregate prior research outcomes along with expert and stakeholder knowledge. The outcomes of the model will be critically assessed at regular intervals, in order to reach agreement on its robustness.
This project represents a fundamental paradigm shift in the interactions between suppliers, providers and consumers of infrastructure services. The business model shifts resource use from a profit centre to a cost centre (and vice-versa for investments in efficiency), and enables infrastructure integration through the focus on the point of use.

Planned Impact

Who might benefit:
Academia - many branches of academia will benefit from the research in both UK and international institutions. This is described in more detail in the academic impact section above.
Public sector - the research will develop roadmaps to new governance models for the delivery of more resource efficiency services. This will support policy decision making and evolution of governance systems. The delivery of more resource efficient services will contribute to a number of government sustainability targets and binding commitments, including carbon emissions reduction targets.
Utility companies - the research will develop robust, a viable roadmap towards a more resource efficient, profitable business model for infrastructure service delivery. This will support business decision making and encourage a paradigm shift away from the supply and demand of physical flows (energy, water, etc) to the supply of services (ambient temperature, illumination, food preservation, cleanliness, etc).
Business and industry - the research will enable more effective delivery of services at lower resource consumption allowing companies to improve the efficiency of their operation and demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility.
General public - the research will enable the more effective delivery of services that the general public need, reducing cost and improving access to services.

How they might benefit:
Commercial and Economic -the research will describe new profitable business models giving the confidence to invest in and move towards more resource efficient, interconnected operations. More efficient service delivery to businesses will enable them to operate at lower costs and resource consumption, making them more efficient and increasing gross value added.
Environmental - the new approach described in the research will dramatically reduce the resource consumption of service delivery and the associated environmental impacts including resource depletion, ecosystem damage, air and water pollution and carbon emissions.
Improving social welfare and public services - the research will describe how services could be delivered more efficiently, which will improve equity of access to basic services.
Influencing public policy and legislation - the research will identify new resource efficient models of service delivery and how policy and governance could evolve to deliver these models
Operational and organisational change - the research will identify new, more efficient ways of governing and operating utility companies.
Technological - the research will identify the role of technology in delivering and monitoring more resource efficient services to households and businesses promoting the uptake of novel technologies or the use of existing technologies in novel ways.
 
Description 1. End-users, and the ultimate "services" they obtain from infrastructure networks, should be the focus of infrastructure policy and planning;
2. Providers and regulators should emphasize the most efficient and resource-saving means of delivering and obtaining infrastructure services;
3. In this context, localities (communities, local authorities, cities or metropolitan areas) should be empowered to become leading actors, because it is only at the local level that infrastructure provision and demand can be integrated in the most appropriate way. Treating networks, suppliers and users as geographically-independent agents will no longer be an option;
4. New, smart technologies, alongside efficient and interactive appliances, can play a key role in this transition, but only if they are implemented and used with this final goal in mind.
Exploitation Route This research should help shape the future priorities for resource-efficient infrastructure operation in the UK.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Other

URL http://sure-infrastructure.leeds.ac.uk/muscos/publications/
 
Description Our findings have been important in shaping the debate in research, national and urban policy on the importance of integrating end users and the idea of service delivery into infrastructure operation.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Environment,Other
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description FUNDED PLACEMENT AT CLIMATEXCHANGE AND ADAPTATION SCOTLAND
Amount £14,000 (GBP)
Organisation Adaptation and Resilience in the Context of Change Network (ARCC) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2014 
End 01/2015
 
Description ICIF - Business Model in Interdependent Infrastructure Systems
Amount £42,382 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K012347/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2013 
End 12/2016
 
Description Leeds EPSRC internship scheme for keeping young researchers in academia
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leeds 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description Sustainable User Innovation
Amount £167,012 (GBP)
Funding ID FP7 - 613194 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2014 
End 12/2014
 
Description iBUILD: Joint ESRC-EPSRC research centre on business models of infrastructure interdependencies
Amount £3,499,844 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K012398/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Title Muscos agent based model - UK/national 
Description This paper presents a model for the energy efficiency upgrading of the residential housing sector, through the introduction of energy service companies. We consider an alternative arrangement to the traditional provider, whereby all household energy needs are met by a single provider, the ESCO. An agent-based framework is implemented, in which household agents interact with energy provider agents. The ESCO agents supply all energy needs (e.g. electricity and gas) and are responsible for installing, maintaining and upgrading existing household energy technologies. The migration of households towards the ESCO providers is determined from an attractiveness array, from which the potential benefit of household upgrades can be weighed. A market scenario, incorporating a single traditional energy provider and two distinct ESCO agents, is considered. The market share achieved by each provider agent is adopted as the indicator of business success. The performance of the energy providers is analysed under varying market assumptions and business strategies. The model investigates the potential of the ESCO providers to create business models that compete with the traditional provider, while increasing the energy efficiency of the residential housing sector. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact None as yet 
 
Title Muscos evolutionary dynamics model - UK/national 
Description This is an evolutionary systems dynamics model of UK energy consumption showing the comparative speed at which it would take for MUSCos to invade the market using different incentives. The output of our modelling is the extent to which UK homes are resource efficient, and we show this in 10 centile categories. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact None as yet 
 
Description All-in-one Imagination Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

researchers were informed of research activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://sure-infrastructure.leeds.ac.uk/muscos/land-of-the-muscos-events/
 
Description Christof Knoeri presenting at the ARCC CN Conference, 2012 Living with our Buildings and Infastructure: Adapting for the Future, September 18-19, Birmingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards.

researchers were informed of project activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://sure-infrastructure.leeds.ac.uk/muscos/land-of-the-muscos-events/
 
Description Christof Knoeri presenting the project at the GRC Industrial Ecology: The role of industrial ecology in addressing sustainability imperatives, June 17-22, Switzerland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

researchers were informed of project activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://sure-infrastructure.leeds.ac.uk/muscos/land-of-the-muscos-events/
 
Description Invitation to Core Cities group meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact We presented our project to the core cities who found the discussion both relevant and stimulating.

We have been in touch with various core city partners regarding their energy strategies and plans to influence national policy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Katy Roelich presenting the project at Innovation for Sustainable Production, May 7-9, Belgium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

researchers were informed of project activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://sure-infrastructure.leeds.ac.uk/muscos/land-of-the-muscos-events/
 
Description Katy Roelich presenting the project at the 1st International Conference on Sustainability and Resilience, November 5-6, University College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

researchers were informed of project activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://sure-infrastructure.leeds.ac.uk/muscos/land-of-the-muscos-events/
 
Description Liz Varga presenting at ECCS'13, Barcelona 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

researchers were informed of project activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Liz Varga presenting at International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure (ISNGI), Wollongong, Sydney, Australia 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

researchers were informed of research activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://smart.uow.edu.au/isngi/eventsummarypapers/index.html
 
Description Liz Varga presenting the project at the International Workshop on Agent-Based Models and Complex Techno-Social Systems 2-4 July 2012, Switzerland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

researchers were informed of project activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://sure-infrastructure.leeds.ac.uk/muscos/land-of-the-muscos-events/