Rough Guide to Engaging Communities in Energy Network Innovation

RegenSW working with the Energy Networks Association have produced this guide is for communities and distribution network operators.

The way we generate electricity is changing from a centralised system with a handful of large power stations, to a distributed network of over one million smaller renewable energy generators. Demand for electricity could double by 2050, and the way we are using it will be different, for example the amount of battery storage is set to increase, and more of us will be using electric vehicles.

All this creates challenges for the national grid and distribution network operators (DNOs) who have to balance supply and demand to make sure the lights stay on.

Currently the network in some areas is constrained because it wasn’t designed for two way flows of electricity. We have two options, we could generate more electricity and pay hundreds of millions to upgrade the network (via customer bills), or 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 the latter option could save us between £3-8billion on our energy bills by 2030. The scale of change is vast, and this presents exciting opportunities for communities to get involved in finding smart solutions and innovative ways of using the network we have more effectively.

This guide explores how DNOs can positively engage local communities in innovation and how communities can get themselves into the best position to grasp the opportunity. It draws together seven case studies of innovation trials and information gathered at two ENA and Regen ‘Engaging Communities in Network Innovation’ event workshops with 178 participants in Manchester and Oxford in October 2016.

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