World-first test facility will accelerate low carbon living and energy network innovation in real time

World-first test facility will accelerate low carbon living and energy network innovation in real time

Energy Systems Catapult‘s Living Lab and the University of Strathclyde’s PNDC are set to receive £2.5m from the Scottish Governments’ Green Jobs Fund, to support and accelerate the development of the Whole Energy Systems Accelerator (WESA).

WESA is a world-first energy innovation test and evaluation facility, enabling interactions between homes, energy networks, and market and policy frameworks to be tested in real-time and across a range of potential future energy system and market scenarios.

WESA combines Energy Systems Catapult’s Living Lab of over 500 digitally connected homes with PNDC’s unique whole energy systems demonstration facilities to enable the acceleration of novel multi-vector and consumer-facing energy innovations that will be needed to support the delivery of net zero emissions.

Delivering Scotland’s 2045 Net Zero emissions target will require huge changes for domestic consumers in how they heat their homes and how they travel. Households and transport currently account for around 30% and 26% of the total energy used in Scotland, and 15% and 31% of carbon emissions respectively.

On average, this will require around 2,000 households and 3,000 petrol and diesel car owners in Scotland to switch to low carbon heating systems and electric vehicles every week between now and 2045.

To transition our economy at the pace needed, it is vital to understand the behaviour of consumers in their homes and the way this behaviour interacts with technology, networks, policy, regulation and commercial models. It is also essential to ensure new technology is affordable, benefits all consumers, and avoids creating new types of vulnerability.

WESA combines the partners’ strong reputations in energy systems innovation across electrical power systems, cybersecurity capabilities, whole energy system expertise, and consumer-focused capabilities. This makes it possible to test the physics, human behaviour, technology, and market aspects of new energy solutions concurrently and rapidly, thereby supporting the creation of a robust and affordable Net Zero energy system that considers consumers’ needs.

Working together, WESA will draw on a broad network of commercial and academic collaboration partners across all sectors of the energy industry. While there are at least 400 businesses in the central belt of Scotland alone — most of which are SMEs — that have relevant capabilities.

Support from Scottish Government

A cornerstone of Scottish Government’s energy policy is to deliver a Just Transition to a Net Zero economy and society — supported by the three core principles: a whole system view, an inclusive energy transition, and a smarter local energy model.

WESA will help to accelerate the realisation of Net Zero carbon emissions in Scotland by 2045, deliver long-term energy affordability for consumers, and contribute to reducing fuel poverty.

The Scottish Government is supporting WESA with £2.5m from the Green Jobs Fund. Scottish Government support will contribute to:

  • Creating a ‘Living Lab Scotland’ of 300 homes and linking these to PNDC to enable network interactions to be understood and managed.
  • Building out new capability at PNDC to enable integrated WESA trials incorporating heat, transport and hydrogen systems and the assessment of their interactions with consumer-end solutions.
  • Supporting and accelerating new innovations to market by providing access for innovators to trials.
  • Accelerating the roll out of low carbon programmes by providing rich consumer insight and assessing the network impacts of wider deployment.

Richard Knight, Director for Strategy and Technology at PNDC, said: “WESA industrial partners will be drawn from the heat, transport, electricity and communications sectors, delivering an unparalleled mix of technology and commercial expertise to steer WESA operations and provide routes to commercial exploitation. In addition to Scottish Government support, significant private sector interest is emerging from large energy companies, technology and equipment developers, SMEs and consumer groups.

“By drawing on existing facilities and the highly-skilled researchers and academics across the PNDC and the University of Strathclyde, WESA will be scaled quickly — enabling a programme of innovator support and policy design that will start to deliver impact during 2022.”

Rebecca Sweeney, Living Lab Business Lead at Energy Systems Catapult, commented: “WESA will enable the real-world assessment and de-risking of new consumer solutions, smart energy network systems, and the business models needed to support them.

“WESA is a huge step forward in the way we work with consumers to design the future Net Zero energy system. WESA will ensure consumer preferences and inclusive design principles are embedded in system design. By including a diverse range of consumers, including those in vulnerable circumstances in the facility and research programme we will ensure their voices are heard and the solutions we develop support a just transition.”

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work, said: “Creating new opportunities and green jobs, alongside decarbonising our homes and buildings are key priorities for this government.

“The Green Jobs Fund will provide capital investment to support the WESA project to carry out vital research and development. This in turn will create real economic benefits and opportunities throughout Scotland for both consumers, including the most vulnerable and businesses, as well as supporting our targets to get to net zero by 2045.”

Watch a video of the Amp X case study: Testing a Digital Energy Assistant in the Living Lab.
Watch a video of the arbnco case study: Digital Air Quality Monitoring for Homes testing in the Living Lab

Related posts