Powering the Future: What We Learned at the Energy Innovation Summit

Steve Morley, Associate Director at Impact

My expectations were set high for this event. The Energy Innovation Summit promised insights into “innovations that drive green, smarter, more affordable energy for Britain for all by 2035”. Energy, and sustainability are some of the core aspects of my work at Impact, so I was curious to see what the event had to offer. Spoiler alert: it delivered!

It was an enlightening experience, featuring cutting-edge knowledge and breakthrough ideas for net-zero transition and supporting vulnerable customers. Of course, one of the highlights was our very own David Pearmain’s presentation, but more on this later…

From Challenge to Innovation

Kicking off with Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s CEO, we navigated the three key challenges of the energy sector: vulnerability, reducing the costs of energy, and optimizing the energy system.

A panel of industry leaders tackled a key question, is net-zero possible by 2035? The resounding answer was yes, but the discussion focused on the challenges of managing various sources of energy generation, particularly with the rise of electric vehicles. There’s a need for a holistic approach for a greener future, and consumer engagement and compelling propositions play a crucial role.

Emily Bourne from DESNZ addressed the need for major infrastructure investments, focusing on distribution upgrades and shifting towards whole-system planning. She also highlighted the role of the Future System Operator in this process and the importance of involving all energy sources.

Let’s focus on inclusivity

Diving into customer-centric innovations, the presentation on the Boston Spa energy efficiency trial, project Emerge, and NGN’s Transport for All, was all about inclusivity. Exploring how to make energy services accessible to disabled individuals, streamlining installation processes for low-carbon technologies, and leveraging digital technologies for emergency services.

Meet David Pearmain, our Director of Advanced Methods, and Sam Loukes from Electricity North West, presenting a collaborative project, powered by both companies and supported by Energy Systems Catapult, focused on customers in vulnerable circumstances. The project looks at segmenting customers based on their needs rather than relying solely on demographic traits, which don’t singularly define vulnerability. David and Sam provided insights into the research, offering a glimpse of the findings soon to be released to the public.

Tomorrow’s Energy Landscape

Day two ignited with a power-packed exploration of the future—aiming straight for net-zero electricity. Andy Howard from Electricity North West gave an overview of project QUEST, another project we at Impact are involved in. He explained how network operators will have the ability to resolve voltage constraints and optimise control.

Andrew Webster from Northern Powergrid, spoke about Rural Electrification with success hinging on aligning business and technology within rural constraints, requiring better electricity management, network planning, reliability, and cost-effective tech deployment. He emphasised the importance of stakeholder engagement, which increased understanding of the work that needs to be done.

Then – something very hot right now – a discussion on the future of heat. Dr. Nicola Lazenby from DESZN, discussed the Heat Pump Ready Programme, a government initiative to support heat pump technologies. Other presentations included an overview of the hydrogen village trials, along with talks on innovative billing schemes, hydrogen alternatives for heating and flexibility measures with heat pumps.

The Energy Innovation Summit 2023 was a rollercoaster of ideas and projects for a sustainable future. From customer-centric innovations to low-carbon heating magic, it left us buzzing with the excitement of a greener, smarter, and more affordable energy future!

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