The Whole Energy Systems Accelerator (WESA) is a world-first energy innovation test and evaluation facility that will – for the first time – enable the interaction between activity in homes and energy networks to be tested in real-time and across a range of potential future energy system and market scenarios.
WESA makes it possible to test the physics, human behaviour, technology, and market aspects of new energy solutions concurrently and rapidly, thereby supporting the creation of a robust and affordable net zero energy system that considers consumers’ needs. It is a real-world example of taking a systems approach to decarbonisation.
Achieving Net Zero: Challenge, Solution and Benefits
WESA’s vast market opportunity
In their Blueprint for a post-carbon society (2018) report, OVO Energy and Imperial College London estimated that smart electric heat could generate system savings of £3.9 billion a year.
A 2015 insights report by the Energy Technologies Institute indicates the investment opportunity to retrofit UK homes is estimated at £100 billion.
The Energy Innovation Needs Assessment (2019), commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), estimated that the total Gross Value Added (GVA) potential from innovation in the smart systems, heating & cooling, buildings, road transport, hydrogen & industry will be £11.5 billion per year in 2030, rising to £29.3 billion per year in 2050.
Scottish Government’s Heat in Buildings Strategy (October 2021) estimates that the total capital cost of converting Scotland’s building stock to zero emissions by 2045 is in the region of £33 billion and that an additional 16,400 jobs will be supported across the Scottish economy in 2030 as a result of investment in the deployment of zero emissions heat.
An economic case has been developed for the WESA initiative by management consultants O’Herlihy & Co Ltd, based on a benefits assessment designed to capture the key impacts associated with WESA’s implementation.
The economic analysis focussed on the impacts of five priority Use Cases for WESA and captured the long-term economic impacts of these WESA Use Cases using HM Treasury assessment methodology and assumptions based on an overall (capital and revenue) public sector investment of £29M.
The key findings were as follows:
Over 9,700 direct, indirect and induced jobs would be created
An additional net GVA of over £430M would be delivered
An economic return on investment of 14.9:1 would be achieved over a ten-year period
When reporting their findings, O’Herlihy & Co Ltd noted that the assumptions around the number of products that will be successfully launched following WESA engagement, the estimates of the demand profile of new technologies, and the assessment of deadweight were very conservative. Despite this, the above economic impacts would still be achieved.
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