Understanding ‘whole place’ energy solutions
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 — a ‘whole place energy solution’.
CSE was commissioned to research these ‘whole place solutions’ for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to help inform 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 net zero energy system.
Although targets for carbon reduction are set nationally, meeting them requires purposeful effort at local level through real projects that reflect local circumstances and engage and integrate energy producers and consumers. CSE conducted a rapid evidence assessment to identify and understand what best practice might look like for local energy programmes and assessed the types of benefits such programmes can create for the locality’s citizens and businesses.
Our research looked at a number of these local energy systems and compared 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).
CSE also conducted in-depth interviews with some of 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.