Understanding ‘whole place’ energy solutions

New research for BEIS on local energy systems

Project duration: July 2017 ongoing

As the energy system undergoes rapid change, innovative new combinations of generation, distribution, storage and demand management are appearing across the UK. Much of this innovation combines a range of energy technologies and services within a specific locality to create a unique solution catered to the resources and requirements of that particular area.

We’ve been commissioned to research these ‘whole place solutions’ for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The results of our research will help BEIS to understand better the role such locality-focused approaches can play in both driving system change and capturing the economic, environmental and social benefits on offer from the shift to a smart, flexible and decentralised energy system.

Although targets for carbon reduction are set nationally, meeting them is likely to require purposeful effort at local level through instigating real projects that reflect local circumstances and engage and integrate both producers and consumers. Therefore, we hope that the research will make an important contribution in understanding what best practice might look like for local energy programmes and in demonstrating how such programmes can create benefits for the locality’s citizens and businesses.

Our research will look at a number of these local energy systems and compare them across different dimensions including:

  • The technologies these systems use and how they combine them. This may include things like renewable generation, demand side response, energy storage, energy efficiency measures, transport or a local energy market.
  • The scale on which they are operating.
  • The challenges they face and opportunities they are realising.
  • The funding and business models they are using.
  • The successes that they have had and the replicability of these.
  • The benefits that they have brought (which may include things like reduced pressure on local power networks, lower consumer bills or energy costs, carbon emission reductions, local economic growth, reduction in fuel poverty or other beneficial social impacts).

We will also conduct in-depth interviews with those involved in the projects in order to draw out key lessons and inform recommendations for future projects on how to link up supply, storage and demand effectively at a local level.

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