|The delivery of consumer energy requirements is a key focus of the Smart Systems and Heat Programme. The Consumer Response and Behavior Project will identify consumer requirements and predict consumer response to Smart Energy System proposals, providing a consumer focus for the other Work Areas. This project involved thousands of respondents providing insight into consumer requirements for heat and energy services, both now and in the future. Particular focus was given to identifying the behaviour that leads people to consume energy - in particular heat and hot water. This £3m project was led by PRP Architects, experts in the built environment. It involved a consortium of academia and industry - UCL Energy Institute, Frontier Economics, The Technology Partnership, The Peabody Trust, National Centre for Social Research and Hitachi Europe
The objective of this piece of work was to identify the key external factors that are expected to impact energy-related consumer behaviour in the period leading up to 2050 and provide an assessment of how these external factors are likely to impact people’s needs and behaviours. Based on this assessment the consortium developed a number of scenarios for how these key factors may change and evolve to 2050, and then provided an analysis of the expected impact of these external factors on consumer needs and behaviour, under the different scenarios identified.
The scenarios explored have provided sufficiently different worlds,useful in creating solution scenarios applicable in a wide range of circumstances.
One of the key differences is whether or not a solution will require policy intervention or if it will be market-driven through high consumer demand. Without strong policy, solutions will need to be made more attractive to convince consumers to invest in them.
The other central concern is whether technological progress will be sufficiently advanced in 2050 in order to replace current low carbon technologies. Future solutions will otherwise need to consider how carbon targets will be met with conventional technologies, and how continued high costs would affect consumer acceptability.
While the scenarios suggest these two worlds are mutually exclusive, a future world is likely to be more fluid, with a mix of policy and market involvement, which will help to promote low carbon technologies and energy-efficient behaviour. As such, the scenarios presented here may be considered more extreme than reality in 2050, but it is worthwhile considering these extremes in order to ensure solution scenarios are sufficiently future-proofed.
It is also clear from the scenarios that there is a place for retrofit in all four future worlds, although the size of that role will depend on the scenario.
Overall, the team concluded that there are three external factors in addition to technological innovation, government policyand consumer willingnessthat will significantly influence the shape of the world in 2050, and the success of a smart heat and energy system. We have identified these as follows.
This report was prepared for the ETI by the consortium that delivered the project in 2013 and whose contents may be out of date and may not represent current thinking.
- Income: Regardless of government involvement, many low carbon technologies will require consumer investment. The scenarios have not considered a fall in income, as existing literature suggests that the average income per person will continue to rise overall to 2050. However, the rate of this change is unclear, as is the relative amount of disposable income per person. The amount of disposable income will highly influence uptake.
- Fuel Prices: Energy bills are a consumer’s primary interaction with the wider energy industry, and provide a sense of their impact in a tangible way. The degree to which fuel prices increase will put increasing pressure on the consumer, having a direct impact on demand.
- Climate Change: As extreme weather events continue to become more prominent and highly publicised, the public’s need for energy security is expected to increase. The speed at which the impacts of climate change take place will influence the rate of change in energy behaviour