Passiv UK responds to government consultation on smart devices

June, 2024

In April 2024, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) released the latest set of consultations as part of the Smart and Secure Electricity System (SSES) Programme. The SSES Programme started in 2022 and aims to support the uptake of Demand Side Response (DSR). It will do this by introducing standards for Energy Smart Appliances (ESAs), accessibility to time-of-use tariff data and regulations on parties responsible for remotely controlling ESAs.

Passiv UK has written a response to the ESA paper providing our view on the approach required to ensure that thermal assets, including heat pumps, are operated in a smart, flexible manner. The response highlights the importance of minimising additional burden on heat pump manufacturers which could jeopardise the Government’s ambitious heat pump target of 600,000 installations per year by 2028.

Why does this matter?

Alongside the growth of heat pumps and other electric heating appliances, the electric vehicle market is expanding year-on-year, with a ban on selling new diesel and petrol cars from 2035. This uptake of high-power electric devices will significantly reduce the carbon emissions of UK homes and transport. However, it also adds a significant load to the UK’s electricity system, potentially challenging security of electricity supply in a future where renewables provide the majority of our electricity.

Domestic DSR offers a solution to this challenge, one that can both reduce overall system costs and earn householders additional revenue. ESAs can respond to signals and incentives from network operators to shift their power consumption when needed. This offers a better solution to delivering energy security that doesn’t depend on spending billions upgrading electricity networks or relying on carbon-intensive fossil fuel generators.

PAS 1878 and the Interoperable Demand Side Response Programme

The ESA standards outlined in the latest consultation are built upon, and heavily reference, the PAS 1878 standard developed by DESNZ and the British Standards Institute in 2021. PAS 1878 introduces an architecture for domestic flexibility, including ESAs, Customer Energy Managers (CEMs) and DSRSPs (Demand Side Response Service Providers). It prioritises interoperability, allowing end-users to swap these components between providers without losing any functionality. This is supported by regulations for cyber security, device operation and the existing open communications protocol OpenADR.

PAS 1878 was tested by a number of organisations as part of DESNZ’s Interoperable Demand Side Response Programme, an innovation programme launched in 2022 to implement and test the standard for a range of different appliances. Passiv worked alongside Samsung to provide smart, compliant controls to a Samsung air source heat pump. Through the project, Passiv developed an in-depth understanding of PAS 1878 including its benefits, flaws and how it can be developed to best serve the UK’s energy system.

You can read more about Passiv’s participation in the IDSR programme here.

Passiv’s Response

Passiv’s response to the SSES consultation on ESAs draws upon our experience from the IDSR programme as well as 10 years of R&D in heat pump control. Key messages in the response include:

  • Any domestic flexibility must be automated and easy to take part in, with a focus on end-user comfort and wellbeing;
  • Standards must be implemented in a way that avoids unnecessary burden on manufacturing processes, driving prices up for consumers and risking the government’s heat pump targets;
  • The current proposed standard, PAS 1878, must undergo significant changes before being included in any final policies;
  • Existing work from different sources, including the IDSR programme and ESA Technical Working Group, should be taken into account when developing any ESA standards;
  • Clear regulations need to be created to allow third party smart controls to enable energy smart functionality;
  • Interoperability principles should focus on allowing standard devices to operate with a range of control solutions while supporting different business models for domestic flexibility.

These responses are designed to support innovation throughout the energy industry, ensuring that manufacturers, DSRSPs, and networks are all on board with the SSES Programme’s vision. Collaboration is key to ensuring an equitable transition to net-zero. A secure, renewable energy system will depend on a range of actors working together to ensure the best outcome for consumers.

The role of smart controls

As part of our response, we have emphasised the importance of reducing the burden on manufacturers for any standards that end up being implemented. Any extra expenses will push manufacturers away from the UK market and result in higher costs for householders. One solution to this problem is by utilising third-party controls to provide smart functionality as an ‘add-on’ to a standard device.

The Passiv Smart Thermostat can enable energy smart functionality for domestic heat pumps by providing internet connectivity and smart, optimised flexible operation. Through Passiv’s Greener Grid Payments service, heat pumps can automatically shift their consumption according to the requirements of the grid, helping support energy security whilst earning heat pump users extra revenue. On top of this, the Passiv Smart Thermostat increases the efficiency of heat pumps by 17% as verified by the Energy Saving Trust. Not only does this save householders money, it also supports grid stability by reducing peak demand!