Non-technical innovations are essential to the deployment of technology

Sometimes the innovation needed to deploy green technology and achieve green growth isn’t about the technology itself. In Prinz, we recognise that non-technical innovations are essential to green growth, and that qualitative research and case studies are critical to understanding the nature and extent of these innovations. But how to we recognise and value non-technical innovations. Take the high profile issue of heat pumps as a live example. National policy is clear – electrification of heat for buildings through heat pumps is a vital component of achieving emission reduction targets (p64 of the Heat & Buildings Strategy, October 2021. Heat pumps themselves, whether air source or ground source, are reasonably well established technology, although there certainly are exciting technical innovations afoot to ensure that heat pumps are feasible for more of the UK’s housing stock e.g. Kensa’s “shoe box” heat pump linked to a shared heat array, such as a set of boreholes, to bring the technology into apartments . But once the case is made for a technology, a series of other areas where innovation and new skills are required are revealed. BEIS are soon to publish the reports from Phase 1, the feasibility study phase, of the ‘Heat Pump Ready’ programme which will, no doubt, bring more of these challenges into view. How do we innovate in business models for energy services? How do we structure ownership agreements for shared assets? What are the skills needed to ensure ongoing aftercare, maintenance and upgrade? What are the skills needed, and the new roles that will use those skills, to help individual households stay healthy, comfortable and afford the energy transition?