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By  Shani Kaufmann 28 April 2024 3 min read

Key points

  • Our Smart Energy Mission has received £30,000 in-kind support from the UK Government to set up a national living lab.
  • The living lab will be like a real-life energy laboratory in thousands of Australian homes.
  • It will accelerate our pathway towards decarbonisation and foster innovation in the energy transformation.
The UK Government, through Energy Systems Catapult (‘the Catapult’), has provided our Smart Energy Mission with £30,000 in-kind support to set up the National Energy Analysis Centre (NEAC) Living Lab. 

The impact of living labs on the energy transformation

Dr Stephen Craig, our Smart Energy Mission Lead, is spearheading the design and creation of the Living Lab. He emphasises the importance of energy living labs in testing new ideas and refining solutions for a more sustainable energy system.

"Energy living labs provide a platform for testing new ideas in a controlled setting, gathering feedback from users, and refining solutions based on real-world experiences. They will play a crucial role in driving the energy transition towards a more sustainable and efficient energy system.

“We are excited about collaborating with the Catapult on the creation of a living lab concept,” Stephen said. 

Becky Sweeney, Business Leader – Homes, at Energy Systems Catapult, echoes this excitement. As Becky explains, expanding the Living Lab into Australia will contribute to the global effort to reach Net Zero.

“Living labs are an invaluable tool for testing, trialling, and refining innovative, consumer-facing energy products and services," Becky said.

"Our Living Lab in the UK helps us – and the innovators we partner with – to engage directly with end-consumers to better understand the impact of products and services on their lives and how such innovations will contribute to our decarbonisation efforts.

“By expanding the concept of the Living Lab into Australia, we can help to create a test environment that will contribute to decarbonisation and Net Zero around the world. The Living Lab will also provide innovators an opportunity to soft-test and launch their products in either the UK or Australia.”

Becky Sweeney, Business Leader – Homes, at Energy Systems Catapult

What‘s next

The collaboration between CSIRO and the Catapult will support the research and initial engagement needed and will be kickstarted with a series of workshops. These workshops will equip the Smart Energy Mission with the knowledge and tools necessary for setting up the Living Lab.

By providing insights into the Catapult Living Lab architecture and operational procedures, including participant recruitment and trial management, this initiative aims to streamline the process of establishing the lab.

Energy Systems Catapult’s Living Lab are willing to share their experience with our Smart Energy Mission as part of the AU/UK Free Trade Agreement and our bilateral commitment to establish the green economy and clean growth through trade.

The benefits of collaboration

Partnering with Energy Systems Catapult will enable us to accelerate the establishment of the Living Lab through building on its existing work. Energy Systems Catapult will share insights and experience and provide ongoing consultancy and advice regarding digital infrastructure, consumer and administrative portals, as well as operational procedures. This will significantly reduce the time required and risks associated with establishing and implementing the Living Lab.

Claire Rowland, Senior Manager for Living Lab and Whole Energy Systems Accelerator, explains the potential of the project.

Claire Rowland, Senior Manager for Living Lab and Whole Energy Systems Accelerator

“Living labs provide a way to test new energy innovations with real people, in real homes," Claire said.

"This helps us ensure they work for consumers, and deliver the expected benefits to the energy system.”

Right now, there's no lasting system in place to test new technologies, so every trial has to go through the hassle of setting up its own recruitment and administrative processes from scratch.

The Smart Energy Mission endeavours to establish a durable, adaptable living lab capability to facilitate energy innovation. By integrating energy data, modelling tools, and an existing social research facility with a wide range of pre-recruited homes and participants, the lab aims to streamline trial processes.

It's preparing to pre-recruit thousands of diverse homes and businesses across Australia, simplifying the process for innovators to conduct inclusive, location-specific trials swiftly. By leveraging the real-life experiences and environments of individuals, both socially and technically, the lab seeks to expedite the energy transformation journey.

The Smart Energy Mission has also secured funding through the CSIRO Annual Performance and Investment Review for the technical design for the Living Lab and the creation of non-functional user experience (UX). 

Work with us

We are now looking for partners interested in supporting the recruitment of homes and businesses within the Living Lab from across Australian society. This partnership will include onboarding consumers and managing operational and administrative procedures. If you are interested in partnering with us, please contact the Smart Energy Mission.

The NEAC Living Lab is part of the signature platform and capability of the Smart Energy Mission to catalyse innovation in energy and accelerate Australia’s energy transition.  It will be a national asset for consumer-focused energy system innovation to accelerate Net Zero transformation.

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