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About the Smart & Fair programme

An elderly woman using a tablet to manage her energy bills

The Smart & Fair programme focuses on the capabilities consumers need to participate in and benefit from the smart flexibility energy system.

The Smart & Fair programme was established with funding from Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks and National Grid Electricity Distribution in 2019. It began by researching the capabilities consumers need to participate in and benefit from the smart flexibility energy system.

Our latest report has just been published. This details how different household types might participate in and benefit from the low carbon transition. In particular it uses a technique we call the smart energy capabilities lens to understand who is impacted and how.

You can read about how we developed the smart energy capabilities lens in the Smart & Fair phase 1 report (2019) here.

Or start with our thought piece about leaving no one behind

Since the Smart & Fair research began, CSE has worked with partners across the industry to embed this way of thinking about how households can take part in the transition to our future energy system and identify any emerging inequalities or distributional impacts.

The Smart & Fair programme has three priority areas.
1) Supporting the energy advice sector.
2) Market confidence and innovation flexibility.
3) Data analytics to improve consumer representation.

Supporting the energy advice sector

As the energy market has become increasingly complex, the nature of energy advice has changed. It has become necessary for energy advisors to take into account a range of new factors. These include a client’s digital confidence, their meter type, and appliance use.

CSE produces digital tools, training and knowledge resources that help energy advisors. Funding for some of this work has come from the Redress fund. And we’re grateful for the support of National Grid Electricity Distribution and Northern Powergrid in developing our Energy Choices Tool that matches consumer capabilities to smart energy products and services.

We want to see these tools widely available using common terminology and metrics that allow households to assess what an offer means for them. This needs to include awareness of the effort to implement, any upfront or ongoing costs, digital capabilities and likely financial benefits.

Market confidence and innovation flexibility  

Through scrutinising the emerging market, we know that certain types of consumer groups are well served by smart energy innovation. But others are overlooked because they do not conform to the typical consumer imagined in the design process.

How can we push innovators to design services that are accessible to a broad range of consumers groups?  

How we can we support consumer understanding and confidence in signing up to technologies and accessing the benefits they can deliver?

HOMEflex is a Network Innovation Allowance project led by Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks and Flex Assure to develop a Code of Conduct for Flexibility Service Providers in the domestic sector. CSE led the market engagement research for this project to bring consumer concerns into the development of a Code of Conduct for Flexibility Service providers. Read our social research report here.

We also ran the market engagement and supported the Hard to Reach trial for Socially Green phase 3. Here we analysed ways to increase access to flex services for hard to reach consumer groups in UK Power Network’s licences areas.

Data analytics to improve consumer representation  

Our energy system is becoming more focused on end-users and the demand management of households. This covers the choices they make about the appliances they use, the technologies they invest in, and the energy services they sign up for. All these have an increasing impact on the energy system overall and are central to the low carbon transition.

There is a need to accurately capture these actions, to understand the collective impacts of individual choices, demonstrate the effectiveness of policy interventions and communications, and to analyse the distributional impacts in terms of who is benefiting and who is bearing system costs. CSE has produced a consumer capabilities dataset at the household level with funding from Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks and National Grid Electricity Distribution. 

Putting it into practice

We’re now working on a number of projects to this end. With National Grid ESO we are developing domestic consumer archetypes for their Future Energy Scenarios modelling. We are also working with the energy regulator, Ofgem, to refresh the archetypes they use to model the distributional impacts of energy policy. We are also collaborating on innovation projects to explore the best methods and analysis to represent the complex interactions between households, communities and the energy system.

Through all this work, CSE champions principles of open data, shared standards and clear communications. Increasing access to the data, models and decisions making tools is a key part of an equitable transition.