Survey finds majority of consumers welcome smart local energy systems

A majority (58%) of energy consumers feel positively about smart local energy systems, despite less than a fifth having heard of the concept before, according to the Energy Systems Catapult.

A survey, conducted by the Catapult’s Home Truths consumer insights panel, sought views on four service concepts – peer-to-peer trading, demand-side response, vehicle-to-grid energy usage, and heat as a service – as well as thoughts on the overarching concept of local energy. While a majority were found to be positive about the overarching concept, fewer consumers were positive about the services, owed to a difficulty in understanding their complexity. Others to give a neutral or negative response also had concerns regarding a loss of control of their energy use.

Elsewhere, the survey found over 40% of respondents would trust a local energy company, while 24% would not. Those with high trust in local energy companies responded better to the service concepts tested. When testing heat as a service, consumers were positive towards the idea of “warmth when you want for a fixed price” but disliked their energy provider choosing their energy system. Almost seven in 10 (68%) liked the idea of purchasing “warm hours” over kilowatt hours. The survey’s findings will be used to inform the design of several smart local energy system demonstrator projects, ensuring they work in the interests of consumers and the energy system.

Dr Matt Lipson, Head of Consumer Insights at ESC, said: “What we found overall is people seem more attracted to the bigger picture of a local energy system that is greener, community-based and helps them save money. To maximise the appeal of the service concepts, it makes sense to highlight these benefits as much as possible.”