Local electricity network operators, including Northern Powergrid, have joined forces to release a guide to help communities to get involved with innovation projects to support a smarter, cleaner energy system.
The guide has been published by Energy Networks Association in partnership with community energy experts Regen. Independent research carried out by Pöyry has shown that network companies’ existing innovation projects could deliver up to £1.7bn of benefits by 2031.
The new publication ‘Electricity Network Innovation Guide for Communities’ features practical advice for community energy groups who want to get involved in moves to ensure our energy system continues to be reliable, cost-effective, and low carbon, by managing how we generate, distribute and use electricity in a smarter way. It also features examples of innovative projects that local electricity network operators and community energy groups have already worked on together, such as smart charging for electric vehicles to avoid peak demand periods.
Randolph Brazier, Head of Innovation and Development at ENA said: “Energy is changing fundamentally because of the seismic shift to decentralisation, decarbonisation and digitisation: and innovation is key to that process. Through innovation we are already driving the delivery of green energy, connecting more than 28GW of distributed energy projects in recent years - that’s half of Britain’s total energy demand at peak times – and community energy groups have played a key part in that, helping to facilitate this once in a generation shift we are currently experiencing. We are delighted to publish this guide to support communities across Britain to engage in local electricity network operators’ innovation programmes and we are committed to ensuring a broad range of stakeholders have the opportunity to participate.”
Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen, said: “Building a smarter, cleaner and decentralised energy system is about people as well as technology. We are pleased to be working with local electricity network operators to enable community energy groups to be at heart of the pioneering innovation projects that are reshaping our energy system to the benefit of all.”
Jim Cardwell, Northern Powergrid's head of trading and innovation, said: "Community Energy is about more than just energy – it’s an outreach activity that develops, strengthens and educates a local community. We welcome the opportunity to work with Community Energy groups and share best practice so more groups can benefit from previous projects we have supported."
The new guide builds on a programme of engagement events around the country, held in 2016 and 2017, which offered community energy groups the opportunity to engage in local electricity network innovation projects. The events were attended by over 300 people from community energy groups, local authorities and universities and two further events are now planned for 2018.
- A copy of the guide “Electricity Network Innovation Guide for Communities” is available here.
- Independent research commissioned by Pöyry conducted in October 2016 for Ofgem estimated that future net benefits resulting from innovation projects carried out with funding from the Low Carbon Network Fund were between £1.1bn to £1.7bn (p.78). The report can be found here.