Heat as a Service: Understanding evidence needs and research gaps
31 Oct 2019
Background to Heat as a Service (HaaS)
The need to accelerate the decarbonisation of heating, as well as the rise of the ‘smart home’, mean that there is an increasing focus on the role of innovative consumer offerings in driving the shift to zero carbon domestic heating. In the context of these agendas, Heat as a Service (HaaS) models which provide customers with an agreed heating plan, rather than simply providing units of fuel are receiving increased attention, and are perceived as having potential to support a step change in the rate of heat decarbonisation.
The aim of this project* is to explore the evidence needs of key stakeholders around the impacts of, and barriers to, offering heat as a service. Accordingly, we organised a workshop on 16th September in London, to facilitate face-to-face networking and knowledge-sharing between stakeholders, and help them network with other research organisations. We gathered 40 participants from academic, industry, civil society, and government sectors to discuss Heat as a Service and its potential as an energy delivery model.
Workshop - viability of HaaS models & the data
The workshop was divided into three sessions. In the first session we had speakers from Energy System Catapult, Bristol Energy, Citizens Advice, UKERC Heat Network, and EPSRC, discussing the smart system heat programme, the trial experience, consumer issues, and providing an overview of UKRI’s heat decarbonisation priorities.
Questions raised in this session were mainly in relation to the viability of HaaS models for different customer segments, data collection and data interoperability issues and the role of policy in making HaaS models commercial. Speakers responded by saying these are key challenge and the ESC and Bristol Energy are considering this in their ongoing work.
Ambitions and opportunities for HaaS
The second session was a facilitated discussion session. Participants were divided into groups, focusing on what work is already happening in relation to HaaS, and what are the ambitions and opportunities for HaaS? What are the barriers and knowledge gap? And how might we overcome the barriers and knowledge gap identified in the earlier discussions?
In relation to the HaaS models for different customer segments, it was highlighted that granular segmentation of customer types is very important, as is a close relationship with each customer to ensure information provision and choice is clear. There seems to be an underlying trust issue between customers and energy providers and HaaS can help overcome that.
Pitching ideas for HaaS
The third session was a Dragon’s Den activity, in which participants worked in groups to develop their ideas about a new HaaS research project. They were asked to develop a 1-minute ‘elevator pitch’ describing their proposed project, and then voted on their favourite project developed by other groups using bundles of imitation money.
In relation to the role of policy in making HaaS models commercial, the answer was: modelling risks across consumer propositions is challenging and varies widely depending on the segmentation of customer groups. There are challenges relating to tenure, length of contract, asset ownership, data/money flows and policy needs to recognise the need for both consumer and asset protection measures.
To conclude, we have identified a number of challenges and opportunities for HaaS. We have also considered if Heat as a Service is a viable solution to decarbonise heat in the UK. Some of these challenges include lack of proven market, lack of skills and capacity, lack of finance for transition to enabling technology, and finally lack of strong policy. We will shortly release a report detailing the current state of knowledge and research gaps.
- Dr Zoya Pourmirza, Newcastle University
- Dr Jess Britton, University of Exeter
- Dr Angela Minas, The University of Manchester
- Dr Catarina Marques, London South Bank University
- Dr Sarah Royston, Anglia Ruskin University
* This project is part of IVUGER (Increasing Visibility of Underrepresented Groups in Energy Research) funded by UKERC Whole Systems Networking Fund.
Related Publications (3)
This report summarises the key findings from the Whole Systems Networking Fund.
Research Report 11 Jul 2019
Regen has run the Solar Commission, a project that has been set up as part of the UKERC Whole Systems Network Fund. This report presents the conclusions of the Commission.
This report explores the current state of gender balance in UK energy research. Researchers looked at the data and talked to female energy researchers about their experience of securing research funding.
UKERC researcher Caterina Brandoni shares some lessons learned in the one-year project Women Buying Green.
by Long Seng To 03 Oct 2019
Many low-income countries are vulnerable to natural hazards, long-term processes of ecological degradation, and global climate change. Project lead Long Seng To, of Loughborough University, writes, with an accompanying short film.
Heating engineers are absolutely central to heating in the UK and are therefore going to be a huge part of the UK’s heat transformation (if it happens), writes Richard Lowes.
Blog by 20 Jun 2019
A collaboration between charity 10:10 Climate Action and professors at Manchester Metropolitan University, a game based on the real life challenges involved in heat decarbonisation has now been launched.
Blog 09 May 2019
In one of the latest Whole Systems Networking Fund events, the IVUGER network hosted a writing retreat. With the network growing, it was a resounding success...
Networking Fund Event, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, 24 October 2019
Centre for Sustainable Technologies, Ulster University, Belfast, United Kingdom
Networking Fund Event, 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM, 16 September 2019
IVUGER, London South Bank University, United Kingdom
Networking Fund Event, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM, 9 July 2019
Regen, House of Lords, Houses of Parliament, Parliament Square, London, United Kingdom
Networking Fund Event, 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM, 12 June 2019
Centre for Sustainable Technologies, Loughview Suite, Floor H, Block 8 Ulster University Shore Road, Newtownabbey, United Kingdom
Networking Fund Event, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, 21 May 2019
University of Birmingham, Murray Learning Centre, Building R28,University of Birmingham, United Kingdom