Energy for All- Innovate for All

Sustainability First's Project ‘Inspire’ on innovation and consumer vulnerability ran from 2016 to 2018. The overarching aim of the project was to improve service delivery and quality of life for energy customers in vulnerable circumstances.

The project achieved this by:

  • Identifying, sharing and promoting case studies of how innovation, particularly technological innovation, can support energy customers in vulnerable circumstances. In doing so, the project shone a spotlight on the potential for smarter approaches
  • Exploring and identifying any barriers and enablers to beneficial innovation e.g. regulatory, financial, legislative, organizational, and making recommendations as appropriate
  • Horizon scanning - capture high-level views on potential new opportunities and future barriers to better serving energy customers in vulnerable circumstances

Why Inspire

With more than 8.5m smart meters now installed in homes in Great Britain we are on the cusp of a digital revolution in energy. Powerful data processing capability, artificial intelligence and new technologies are also combining to fundamentally change how we generate, store provide, use structure and pay for our energy.

In this transforming world, Sustainability First set up Project Inspire to help ensure that all consumers, including the millions who are potentially vulnerable, are not just protected but also experience the benefits of change.

Sustainability First’s earlier research with Frontier Economics on distribution network operators (DNOs) action on vulnerability and Ofgem’s 2016 Challenge Panel both highlighted services for customers with additional needs as an area for improvement. Moreover our wider work outlined a risk that opportunities to deliver benefits from smart meters were in danger of being missed.

“Innovation for all” is needed to meet the current, future and unarticulated needs of those in vulnerable situations, and to do so more cost efficiently. There are also potential benefits to business and wider society from ‘vulnerability innovation’.


The Inspire Project Group

Project Inspire was led by Sustainability First’s Zoe McLeod. Inspire was a multi‐partner project sponsored by:

  • Ofgem
  • EDF Energy
  • E.ON
  • Scottish Power
  • SGN
  • Western Power Distribution
  • geo
  • Toshiba
  • Smart Energy GB

The project was also actively supported by colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Citizens Advice. Together these organisations made up the ‘Inspire Project Group’.

The Project Group provided valuable challenge and expert insight to our research. We drew on their diverse experience and perspectives from across energy networks, suppliers, Government, the regulator, product manufacturers and consumer arenas.

It should be noted that our research findings and reports are independent from the Project Group, with all decisions on content and editorial control resting with Sustainability First.

Latest Project Publications