23 February 217

We have just published a guide that explores how communities can participate in the shift to a smarter more flexible energy system. It is essential communities are involved, so that they can help assist with the systemic changes that will affect how we generate, supply and use electricity in the future. The guide offers best practice advice to Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) on how to positively engage local communities in energy network innovation.

Currently the electricity network in some areas is constrained because it wasn’t designed for two way flows of electricity, and DNOs are working hard to balance supply and demand to make sure the lights stay on.

To overcome these challenges we have two options:

  • We could generate more electricity and pay hundreds of millions of pounds to upgrade the network (via consumer bills)
  • We could use the network we have more efficiently and find flexible smart solutions to balance the supply of electricity and our increasing demand.

Ofgem estimate option two could save us between three to eight billion pounds on our energy bills by 2030, so it is the obvious choice.

However, getting there will require more innovation trials involving communities, to come up with solutions, combined with the effective communication and education about the solutions to encourage wider public participation. Being receptive to feedback and learning lessons as we go is critical to achieving a smart flexible energy system that clearly benefits everyone. To do this we will need more opportunities to get together and talk, in plain English, about what’s working and what’s not.

The guide looks at the lessons from trials and makes recommendations on how we can all be involved in the conversation and collaborate. For the solutions to be the right ones, communities must be involved in their design.

You can pick up your free printed copy of the guide at Smart Energy Marketplace or download a copy here:
Rough Guide to Engaging Communities in Energy Network Innovation
The guide draws together seven case studies of innovation trials and information gathered at two ‘Engaging Communities in Network Innovation’ event workshops with 178 participants in Manchester and Oxford in October 2016. To compile this guide for the Energy Networks Association (ENA), Regen brought together community energy groups with all the DNO’s, in partnership with Community Energy England, Scotland and Wales. Many thanks to everyone who contributed.

Author: Jodie Giles

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