What role will consumers play in the transition to net zero?
22 Sep 2023 - 3 minute read
The way that we all use energy is changing and understanding this is important to deliver our net zero target by 2050. Our Consumer Building Blocks innovation project looks at how energy use might change to help plan how the electricity and gas networks may need to evolve to meet the future needs of domestic, commercial, and industrial users.
How is the way we consume energy changing?
As we begin to adopt new technologies, such as solar panels, smart controls, electric vehicles, heat pumps and hydrogen boilers into our daily life, the way we all use energy will change. With the emergence of new markets and services designed to support the operation of a zero-carbon electricity system, like the Demand Flexibility Service, where homes and businesses are incentivised to reduce their electricity usage during peak periods over the winter to maintain system balance, we will all play a bigger role in influencing energy demand peaks and troughs by being more selective with the times we use energy.
Meeting future energy needs
Collectively, we will all play a vital role in achieving a zero-carbon electricity system and understanding how our behaviours will change is essential. We’ve already gathered research from homes and businesses who are early adopters of new technologies, which has allowed us to make assumptions about future electricity and gas use. The Consumer Building Blocks project will give a much wider range of data to gain a greater understanding of future behaviours.
With a more detailed understanding of the different types of residential, commercial and industrial consumers and how they use energy now, we can use models and statistical analysis to help forecast future energy demand. This information can then be used to plan the future development of the electricity and gas networks.
The Consumer Building Blocks project has developed a series of standard archetypes for domestic, industrial, and commercial users to help model homes and businesses energy use scenarios and plan a future-ready energy system.
How we’re learning about our changing behaviour
Working in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), we have studied energy consumption in homes and created archetype models using smart meter data from the Smart Energy Research Lab. Alongside Element Energy, we worked with stakeholders to develop our industrial and commercial archetypes. We engaged with energy consumers and suppliers to investigate how their behaviour might change in the future, the potential benefits of decarbonisation incentives and new commercial offerings, and the impact high energy consumers could make. Once tested, the final archetypes will be published and utilised in our Future Energy Scenarios (FES) work to provide consumer insights for the network planning process.
Delivering value for money
Understanding how our energy consumption will change at home and with businesses is an essential part of decarbonising the electricity network and achieving periods of zero-carbon operations by 2025. The archetypes this project develops will provide us, and the whole energy system, a common approach to modelling behaviours, which will deliver value for money through a more consistent and informed approach to network planning, now and in the future.
You can find more detailed information about the project on the ENA’s Smarter Networks portal.