'Socio-technical research to inform policy making for clean, efficient and secure energy transitions'

The User-Centred Energy Systems mission is to provide evidence from socio-technical research on the design, social acceptance and usability of clean energy technologies to inform policy making for clean, efficient and secure energy transitions.



Strategic Plan

UsersTCP’s Vision

To be the world-leading international collaboration platform for policy-relevant socio-technical research on user-centred energy systems.

UsersTCP’s Mission

To provide evidence from socio-technical research on energy use and production, to inform policy making for clean, efficient and secure energy transitions. 

Strategic Context

The energy sector is undergoing an unprecedented period of change. The environmental imperative to decarbonise requires a rapid increase in demand-side energy efficiency, alongside growth of intermittent distributed renewable generation at the grid edge, placing energy in the heart of communities. Simultaneously, digitalisation is changing wider social expectations of service, value and usability. These social and environmental forces are turning the energy system inside out, making it imperative that technology designers and policy makers properly understand how people permit, adopt and use new energy technologies.

People use technologies to convert energy into the services they want. To do this, technologies need to be useable – and their services must satisfy users’ needs. Poorly designed technologies throughout the supply chain (hardware, software and business models) that are not used as intended, and do not satisfy user needs lead to ‘performance gaps’ which are both energy and economically inefficient. Policies that do not take account of user behaviour hold back the energy transition. Adopting a ‘systems perspective’ makes people—technology designers, policy makers, intermediaries and end users—as integral as hardware and software to delivering an energy system that meets our wider social, environmental and economic goals. This ‘socio-technical’ approach is core to the User-Centred Energy Systems TCP.

Rationale for the UsersTCP and its role in the IEA Energy Technology Network

There is a need both for better understanding of the role of users within energy systems, and for this understanding to be bought together with expertise in technologies to accelerate the energy transition. The IEA Technology Collaboration Programme comprises over 6000 technology experts – complementing this expertise, the UsersTCP provides a home for international networks of social researchers, economists, political scientists and policy makers to work collaboratively on policy-relevant sociotechnical energy issues. The objectives for 2020-2025 focus on areas where user choices and actions play a large role in determining both the variability and overall level of power and energy use. 

Objectives for 2020-2025

  • Provide impartial, reliable and authoritative research, guidelines and recommended practices to policy/decision makers and implementers based on international evidence.
  • Establish at least four international networks of expertise on socio-technical aspects of energy use.
  • To work with other TCPs to provide multi-disciplinary research on key energy transition topics.

A set of actions

The UsersTCP’s Tasks are the delivery mechanisms of our Strategy. The following set of actions contains Tasks that the UsersTCP will undertake and other likely topics of future work.

Information provision: The role of digitalisation in socio-technical systems change 

  • Developing a common framework for creating the social licence to operate in automated consumer-centred flexibility markets through the Social Licence to Automate Task
  • Leading global knowledge sharing through the Global Observatory on Community Self-Consumption and Peer-to-Peer Energy Trading 

Interfaces design: The role of design in socio-technical systems change

  • Potentially undertaking new work on energy technology interface design and usability for key end user technologies such as heating and cooling.

Behaviour change: The users’ response to the changing energy system

  • Applying the TCP’s Behaviour Changer framework in hard to reach sectors of the community, for example within fuel poor households and small businesses through the Hard-to-Reach Energy Consumers Task
  • Enabling the sharing of expertise between government behavioural insights practitioners through the Energy-sector Behavioural Insights Platform

Systems change: The systems’ response to the changing expectations of the user 

  • Fostering the uptake of energy services through comparative analysis and training on successful business models through the Business Model Strategies Task
  • Setting out the regulatory conditions for energy efficiency interventions to be rewarded in future energy markets in which performance can be more accurately measured
  • Potentially undertaking new work on systems change, social innovation and energy transitions

Developing the UsersTCP’s networks of socio-technical expertise will enable us to collaborate on multi-disciplinary projects with other TCPs focussed on technologies. We will seek to work with ISGAN on the digitalisation related Tasks and with other TCPs where appropriate.

The User-Centred Energy Systems Academy will build upon the success of the DSMUniversity, providing a valuable dissemination tool for this and other TCPs, as well as the broader international energy community. 

The UsersTCP is fully resourced to take forward the planned work programme. It is adopting a more strongly member country led model for initiation of new Tasks and strategic development of the TCP. It is actively recruiting new members – focusing on countries and sponsors that could make a significant contribution to Tasks and bring in new ideas. We will work with the IEA Secretariat to identifying new opportunities to collaborate both within and beyond the IEA community.

Executive Committee


UsersTCP Executive Committee


David Shipworth

Vice Chair                                         Vice Chair

Gerdien de Weger                             Tony Fullelove

Head of Secretariat                        Secretariat Support

Samuel Thomas                               Vikki Searancke
s.thomas@userstcp.org                   vikki@userstcp.org

IEA Desk Officer
Emi Bertoli



There are three steps to joining the TCP as a country or sponsor:

1. Talk with us – Express an interest in joining the Technology Collaboration Programme by contacting the TCP Head of Secretariat. We will promptly share information on activities, participation obligations, benefits and the process to join the Programme. We would be happy to discuss any questions you might have.

2. Meet with us – Attend an Executive Committee meeting and Task meetings as an Observer.

3. Write to us – To complete the process of joining, you send a letter to the IEA Executive Director identifying the contracting party, the Executive Committee member from that country, and the Tasks you will participate in. Immediately upon receiving a copy of that letter, the UsersTCP will consider you to be a member.

Why should your organisation become a member of the User-Centred Energy Systems TCP? With end-users becoming central to energy transitions globally, the UsersTCP is unique, as the only international research programme focussing on the vital roles of people and technology in energy systems. Join us to be part of a collaborative research network focussed on designing technologies, policies, and business models fit for today’s user-centred energy systems.

To learn more about how to participate contact us:
Benefits of participation
  • Enables complex and/or expensive projects to be undertaken. Many countries do not have the expertise or resources to undertake every desirable research project. A collaborative project enables the strength and contribution of many countries to undertake collectively what individually would be prohibitively expensive.
  • Enhances national R & D Programmes National researchers involved in international projects are exposed to a variety of ideas and approaches which will ultimately benefit and enrich their own work.
    Promotes standardisation Collaborative work encourages the use of standard terminology, referencing, units of measurement, while also encouraging the portability of computer programmes, and common methodology, procedures and reporting formats make interpretation and comparison easier.
  • Accelerates the pace of research development Interaction among project participants allows cross-fertilisation of new ideas, helping to spread innovative developments rapidly, while increasing the range of approaches employed.
    Promotes international understanding Collaboration promotes international goodwill, and helps participants broaden their views beyond their national perspective. The UsersTCP Programme provides an international platform of work. This is the only international organisation that addresses management of energy on the demand side of the meter in a collaborative manner.
  • Reflects latest trends and issues New areas of work are continually added to the Programme’s scope to address changes in the energy market.
    Saves time and money Members fund a portion of the international team’s work but have access to all project results.
  • Creates important networks Specialists active in socio-technical research have the opportunity to work with other key experts from around the world.
  • Increases the size of the technology database Collaboration among multiple countries creates a pool of information much larger than a single country could assemble by itself. Permits national specialisation Countries can focus on particular aspects of a project’s development or deployment while maintaining access to the entire project’s information.


The Technology Collaboration Programme by IEA

The Technology Collaboration Programme supports the work of independent, international groups of experts that enable governments and industries from around the world to lead programmes and projects on a wide range of energy technologies and related issues. The experts in these collaborations work to advance the research, development and commercialisation of energy technologies. The scope and strategy of each collaboration is in keeping with the IEA Shared Goals of energy security, environmental protection and economic growth, as well as engagement worldwide.

The breadth of the analytical expertise in the Technology Collaboration Programme is a unique asset to the global transition to a cleaner energy future.

These collaborations involve over 6 000 experts worldwide who represent nearly 300 public and private organisations located in 55 countries, including many from IEA Association countries such as China, India and Brazil.