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Disabled households to take part in zero carbon energy innovation trials for the first time

Energy Systems Catapult’s partnership with the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) will collaborate on a programme to enable inclusive innovation and sustainable choice.

digitally connected homes as part of the Energy Systems Catapult’s Living Lab test environment
people in pan‐disability consumer panel

The energy transition to zero carbon must be inclusive and equitable, and that is unfortunately not what we have seen in much of our research into the accessibility of energy services and products so far.

This project will be the first time that disabled households have used and tested home energy products and services in their own home on a long-term basis. Our aim is to fill in the knowledge gaps on emerging vulnerabilities that are still creating barriers for disabled and older people – such as the accessibility of charging an electric vehicle at home.

Successful innovation and inclusive design require a whole system approach and user involvement, and we look forward to working alongside our consumer panel to develop action plans for the solutions to these issues.

Caroline Jacobs
Head of Development, RiDC

50 homes to be added to Living Lab to boost inclusive innovation

Energy Systems Catapult recognises that to lead a transformation in the energy system it should challenge how innovation is done, including addressing the lack of diversity in the sector. The Catapult therefore upholds the values of equality, diversity and inclusion, not only in the workplace but in the projects and partnerships it engages in.

One such example of this is the collaborative partnership with RiDC, an independent, national charity working towards an inclusive and accessible life for all. The Enabling Inclusive Innovation and Sustainable Choice programme in collaboration with RiDC will work with disabled and older consumers to deliver new research and assets that support the development of innovative, accessible smart and low carbon energy products and services, and to inform consumer and policy decision making.

RiDC will deliver the research through a programme of six insight and test evaluation projects, including utilising their pan‐disability consumer panel of over 2,500 people, doing co‐design workshops, accessibility, usability evaluations and mystery shopping.

This includes adding 50 new households with disabled consumers to Energy Systems Catapult’s Living Lab – a safe and affordable test environment of over 500 homes helping innovators rapidly design, market-test and launch smart energy products, services and business models.

The aim is to ensure that smart, low carbon energy innovations that will become a key part of UK efforts to reach Net Zero will be accessible to a wider range of consumers.

Rebecca Sweeney
Living Lab Business Lead, Energy Systems Catapult