Strategic Innovation Fund


Project Data

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SHIELD aims to help low-income and vulnerable customers reduce their energy bills and emissions by providing innovative low-carbon technologies for free. These will generate electricity in the home and provide heating at a much lower cost than standard energy plans and heating technologies.

What is the project about?

In the UK, there are an estimated six million households currently experiencing fuel poverty, but the technologies that can help reduce energy costs are often expensive and as a result cannot be accessed by low-income households. 

SHIELD is a bold new initiative which aims to help solve these challenges by installing low-carbon technologies for free, helping households to reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions. The ultimate goal for SHIELD is to reduce the number of people living in fuel poverty across the country and improve the lives of people struggling to pay their energy bills. 

SHIELD uses innovative technology, including cloud data centres for heating, solar panels, and battery storage to intelligently balance supply and demand and reduce costs for consumers. This new approach to decarbonisation will help address the difficulties faced by people living in fuel poverty, reducing both the upfront and running costs of heating and energy. 

How we’re doing it

SHIELD is providing solar panels and battery storage to low-income and vulnerable tenants for home electricity generation, along with innovative cloud data centres which produce heat. This heat would normally be wasted, but SHIELD captures and stores this to provide central heating for the home at significantly reduced costs compared to standard energy tariffs. The electricity generated in the home will be stored in batteries and can be used when it is needed, reducing bills with the household’s standard energy supplier. 

The upfront costs of the equipment are covered by the project and ultimately are funded by the benefits which they will bring to the network, including flexibility services. This means that households can have access to new technology which would normally cost many thousands of pounds. 

The project will also be investigating other technologies to help make sure that SHIELD is available for residents of many different housing types, including multiple occupancy buildings such as blocks of flats, and can bring benefits to the widest audience possible. 

What makes it innovative

SHIELD is innovative because of its funding model and the technologies which it uses. 

The project will partner with an Energy Services Company (ESCo) which will use external funding to provide the electricity generation and heating technology to residents at zero upfront cost. This funding will be paid back using earnings made by the ESCo by also using the technologies to provide flexibility to the electricity network. This is a new kind of funding model which specifically benefits those in low-income households who would struggle to afford the upfront costs of expensive equipment. 

SHIELD will also use an innovative new heating technology called the HeatHub. The HeatHub is installed in people’s homes and is used by other businesses for cloud data processing. This data processing generates waste heat and is captured in a heat storage device to be later used in the home at the point it is required.

What we’re learning

The work completed so far in SHIELD has highlighted several key points which have helped develop our understanding of vulnerable customers and their needs. It has also shown that care must be taken when choosing which technologies should be installed and that a ‘one-size fits all’ approach isn’t always appropriate. 

Learnings from our work in the project so far include: 

  • There is a large desire by low-income consumers to trial a system such as SHIELD. Nearly 70% of residents interviewed were willing to immediately try the SHIELD solution. 
  • Customer vulnerabilities and the challenges faced are varied, and consideration must be taken to account for this. As a result, SHIELD has developed plain English versions of contracts to ensure that they are accessible to all, as well as including technology to help tenants with communication difficulties express themselves. Citizens Advice are also involved throughout to ensure that other needs are addressed, and participants are receiving the expected benefits from SHIELD. 
  • Different households require different solutions, primarily because of space limitations, location and the type of property. To account for this, SHIELD is exploring different technologies, including roof-top wind, and will later investigate how SHIELD could be applied to multi-occupancy buildings. 
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