ETI hires Cambridge Consultants to lead HEMS project

25 November 2015 5 min. read

ETI and Cambridge Consultants have joined forces to deliver a smart home energy system that provides UK users with key insights and information about their home energy behaviour. The UK needs to find ways of reducing the carbon emissions used to heat homes, consumers have however, been apathetic about making low-carbon changes a priority. Through the project, the ETI hopes to help consumers see the benefits of reducing waste and moving to low-carbon energy solutions. The two year deal is worth around £4.9 million.

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) was established by the UK government in 2007 to provide a bridge between public, private and academic institutions that are working toward systems and technologies that will help the UK reach its 2050 climate commitments. The institute’s stated goal is to “accelerate the development, demonstration and eventual commercial deployment of a focused portfolio of energy technologies, which will increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help achieve energy and climate change goals”.

Next decade is critical

One of the key issues faced by the UK in its bid to reach its (binding) 2050 greenhouse gas emissions targets is to decarbonise home heating. Home heating accounts for around 20% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, and with around 90% of the current housing stock still expected to be around in 2050, and with fewer than 4% using low-carbon heating – innovation and incentives are required to get people to shift from the preferred gas central heating (by 90% of users) to low carbon technologies.

As part of the ETI’s efforts to develop ways in which homes can be heated through a low carbon approach, the institute has appointed Cambridge Consultants to lead a £4.9 million, two year, home energy management system (HEMS) project. One of the key challenges the project aims to overcome is the apathy many consumer energy users have toward their sometimes wasteful emissions.

There are two principal pathways for decarbonising domestic space and water heating

The current HEMS project incorporates smart meters into peoples’ homes to provide a means of monitoring energy usage – with a number of means of recommending energy wastage reduction, through prompting consumers to change potentially wasteful behaviour. Under the leadership of Cambridge Consulting, the project will be expanded to “create an energy management system for a building that is not simply an automation of existing controls.” The upgraded HEMS approach will provide services that inform and engage consumers to transform their home heating measures. “Most of us have only a vague idea of what the kilowatt hours we buy from our energy supplier actually mean – and how they translate into our experience of being warm and comfortable at home,” says Tim Ensor, head of connected devices at Cambridge Consultants.

To overcome apathy, while shifting consumers to lower carbon emitting heating modes, the HEMS will provide a consumers with a range of options and information about the smart ways in which to deliver and store heat in their homes. Through proving “consumers with a range of solutions for better control of how they use energy in their homes,” as well as “providing the industry with compelling propositions and business models for the future,” the project hopes to bring about wide spread changes in heating behaviour by which all the stakeholders win.

Few consumers are presently engaged to change heating systems

Donna Gandy-Wright, project manager at the Energy Systems Catapault, which is delivering the HEMS project for the ETI, remarks on the partnership: “We chose Cambridge Consultants to lead this project as it has all the necessary skills under one roof – from user experience and web designers to radio engineers and mathematicians. It also brings a valuable fresh perspective to the issue, which we hope will help the energy industry reinvent its relationship with its customers.”

Ensor adds, “Our track record of delivering breakthrough innovation – combined with the ETI’s insight into the UK energy market – makes for an exciting partnership that has the potential to transform the way we manage our home heating.”

Homes require new low carbon installations

Implementation roadmap
The new system will be developed for testing during the 2016-17 winter. The results will be analysed to provide insight into consumer behaviour patterns around energy use in the home. Possible further developments to lower costs across the board will be developed from the results.

The move to incorporate green technologies within homes is also being considered within the new development of commercial projects. Deloitte for instance recently opened the world’s most energy efficient building, while McKinsey & Company has released research into the value added of green space development.