Intelligent energy systems must work for all, say researchers

There needs to be a “robust understanding of the needs of all end-users”.

Intelligent energy systems must work for all consumers, including the vulnerable, researchers from the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) have warned.

The ESC’s consumer insight specialist, Dr Rose Chard said there needs to a “robust understanding of the needs of all end-users” as the energy sector looks to develop new innovative intelligent systems.

“With 5 million adults never having used the internet and an estimated 1.6 million customers self-disconnecting from energy at least once a year by not topping up their prepayment meters, consumers’ vulnerabilities are not something we can ignore,” said Chard. 

“And vulnerability doesn’t just apply to heating. Take electric vehicles for example, how are we going to ensure that those people without access to off-road parking at home can charge their car, or that those people that cannot afford a new car are not disproportionately disadvantaged.

Chard said a whole-systems approach is needed to “ensure everything from technological innovation to local area planning and new energy supply models take account of these consumer needs”.  

“We don’t want vulnerable people to be negatively affected by technological innovation in the energy sector transition but equally we want technological innovation to actively makes life better for people living in fuel poverty,” she added.