Energy Revolution Research Consortium- Plus - EnergyREV - User Influence Tools for Enabling Two-way Engagement with Smart Local Energy Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Abstract

User participation in smart local energy systems is imperative for their successful deployment, as affirmed by the 'consumer pull' approach to energy innovation promoted by the Prospering from the energy revolution (PFER) programme. However, many users rarely engage in energy markets/ demand response for reasons including market heterogeneity and regulatory constraints, novelty, demand inelasticity and lack of understanding. Energy feedback initiatives tend to offer unidirectional forms of engagement that adopt an information-driven approach with a focus on analytics and dashboards, although users may wish for more interactive engagement, sometimes with a community dimension, and there is some evidence of its effectiveness.

Communication and visualisation of local energy flows and interactions (of constituent vectors - electricity, heat and transport) can influence users if they move beyond one way flow of information with no power for negotiation, and instead enable users to understand themselves, their activities, resources and energy use in a more joined-up way; also to manage, directly or through delegation, their consumption, production and storage of energy, contributing to network and grid balancing at the same time as gaining value for themselves and their communities. The communication takes place most effectively through a combination of personal and technological interactions: person-person, person-technology, technology-technology.

The action-oriented approach adopted in this Plus project is designed to address the need to extend and strengthen user participation in energy systems at local level, and deepen the impact of the Core WP4.1 by using longitudinal local energy data to co-create a suite of smart tools that are trialled using inclusive approaches in two contrasting demonstrator (urban/rural) case studies using distributed energy resources.

Planned Impact

The Plus project findings will add depth and breadth to knowledge created through Core EnergyRev research, by providing insights about what kind of smart energy tools work, for whom, how, where and in what conditions. This will lead to creation of new smart energy services (UK economic success) that will be able to link local generation to local use patterns, benefiting local economies and social cohesion (key UK societal challenges). Findings will produce significant whole system energy outputs that will inform future energy investment by companies and Government.

The project will adopt an engaged model of research that ensures we are addressing the research needs of multiple stakeholders (Government, industry, utilities, regulators, city authorities, community energy organisations) throughout the process, by developing outputs that are informed by, accessible to, and used by those stakeholders. The Plus project will also leverage dissemination channels of Core WP on engagement and knowledge management, as well as Investigators' connections with other UKRI investments, including the Centre for Research on Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), and the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).

This will be achieved through the following actions:

- A DEDICATED WEBSITE will act as a primary communication hub for the project - constructed during month 1 and used as a platform for impact and dissemination throughout the project's duration and beyond, hosted by OBU.
- SOCIAL MEDIA OUTPUTS, including a dedicated twitter account will be used to draw attention to emerging findings, materials and events linked to the project.
- PROJECT ADVISORY NETWORK will be set up, drawing on the already extensive partnerships linked to the academic investigators. This will ensure substantive involvement and buy-in of stakeholder and academic representatives beyond those already involved in the ERRC-Core work programme.
- PARTICIPATORY WORKSHOPS as part of Task 1 (identifying local actors and their needs), Task 4 (trial of smart tools) and Task 5 (evaluation of smart tools) will be held in each of the demonstrator case study locations with the aim of bringing local stakeholders together and prompting informed debate about the value of the smart energy tools used to enhance user engagement with local smart energy systems.
- SUMMARY REPORTS will be produced for each of our case studies, following the local impact events, with the aim of sharing the findings from the research and engagement activities in each of the contexts of local research.
- FINAL PROJECT IMPACT EVENT will be held in London, to which our project advisory network and local demonstrator representatives will be invited to attend and participate.
- SYNTHESIS REPORT summarising high level findings will be produced and made available in online and print versions, aimed at government (e.g. BEIS), science and regulatory stakeholders (e.g. Ofgem), industry (e.g Scottish & Southern Electricity Network, Upside Energy (Aggregator) and NGOs including community energy organisations (e.g. CEE, Low Carbon Hub).
- INDUSTRY SEMINAR: leveraging support from the ERRC Core, we will hold an impact event targeting smart energy industrial organisations. This event will consist of a seminar that aims to discuss 'what works' for effective customer engagement with local smart energy systems.
- PUBLIC EXHIBITIONS of project findings will be held as part of national science events (e.g. British Festival of Science).

The impact of our activities will be evaluated using a range of methods, specific to each activity. For the project events and exhibitions, we will use audience numbers and qualitative feedback to monitor how findings are taken up and put into practice. For policy and stakeholder impacts, citations in speeches, reports and policy documents will be monitored. For website visits and tweeting, we will record downloads and re-tweets.

Publications

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