The Borderlands Partnership, a partnership of local authorities and stakeholders, brings together five cross-border local authorities of Carlisle, Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway, Northumberland and Scottish Borders to promote the economic growth of the area. The partnership has contracted a consortium to develop an energy strategy for the region that will:
identify strategically important projects
support and facilitate future local area energy plans
and engage stakeholders in the development of the energy strategy and projects.
Regen will be modelling the region’s energy system to develop pathways towards the region achieving net zero decarbonisation. An interconnected thematic modelling approach will be taken, with domestic, commercial and industrial, transport, electricity generation, energy efficiency, and smart and flexibility sector pathways modelled and reported on. In addition, Regen will be collating spatial information on energy modelling factors, for example building energy efficiency data, energy generation projects and resource opportunities. This spatial information will support future local area energy plans.
An example of the modelling approach and variables is below:
The project started in Q1 2021 and will be completed in Q3 2021.
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Head of technical development
Ray leads Regen's technical development strategy, coordinating the development of the company's capabilities and…
Regen has been working with SP Energy Networks (SPEN) to understand the impacts of recent and proposed changes to how much we pay for our distribution and transmission network on customers, on Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and on decarbonisation.
A detailed analysis was undertaken including modelling of network charge options and interviews with both stakeholders and SPEN’s connections team. This analysis has been summarised into a short report which can be viewed here.
The results of the analysis were presented around four key themes that were expected to have the most significant implications for both SPEN and their network customers:
Higher fixed charges for demand customers due to the shift from variable to flexible costs, particularly those with low capacity utilisation.
Locational charges and forward price signals could have significantly impacts on locational and regional aspirations for growth and decarbonisation.
Shallower distribution connection boundary could make it cheaper for distribution sites in constrained locations to connect to the network, particularly large sites.
Flexible access and connections options would be welcome, but questions remain as to how they will relate to DSO and other flexibility.
The report concludes that the proposed changes are mixed for decarbonisation and that the final impact will vary across the country and depend on how the methodologies are developed and applied. However, it is likely that it will require all DNOs to further invest in physical assets, network monitoring as well as processes and capability to support net zero, new connections and flexibility.
Read a summary of the report’s key findings in our blog here, written by Poppy Maltby (head of cities and regions).
People on this project
Head of technical development
Ray leads Regen's technical development strategy, coordinating the development of the company's capabilities and…
From November 2020 to February 2021, Regen worked with Bristol City Council, supported by MCS Charitable Foundation, to produce a feasibility assessment exploring the concept of a Sleeving Pool in order to help the local authority procure local renewable electricity.
We carried out a high-level assessment of the commercial and administrative feasibility of the concept and provided recommendations about viability and issues to consider in taking this concept forward.
This analysis involved three main elements:
Developing the energy Sleeving Pool concept and make recommendations about governance and process.
Modelling the matching of demand and generation, analysing PPA costs and possible price structures.
Engaging with suppliers to explore the facets and scope of the Pool Manager role.
These elements are detailed in the final feasibility assessment, which can be found here.
Read our blog by Poppy Maltby, head of cities and regions, here.
In July 2019, Cornwall Council approved the first iteration of a Climate Change Action Plan to help address the climate emergency, which included an action to create a Development Plan Document (DPD) on climate change to set the framework for dealing with climate change through planning and help Cornwall achieve carbon neutrality. The Council commissioned Regen to undertake industry stakeholder engagement to inform the development of the DPD policies on renewable energy.
Regen and Cornwall Council ran a first stakeholder engagement webinar in April 2020, to get views from key renewables industry and community stakeholders on what the climate emergency DPD should address regarding the need for renewable energy in Cornwall. Insight and feedback was summarised in a report by Regen to Cornwall Council as part of the consultation process, which was reviewed and informed the development of a set of draft policies for renewable energy. Following the first round of consultation, Cornwall Council published its draft policies for the DPD in August 2020.
You can read our interim report for Cornwall Council summarising feedback from stakeholders on the key areas for the DPD to address, as well as further positive policy and non-planning actions for Cornwall Council to consider here.
Regen carried out a second round of stakeholder engagement on behalf of Cornwall Council to gain feedback from industry and community stakeholders on the DPD’s draft policies on renewables, and hear what else could be included to support the deployment of renewable energy. Regen organised an online webinar that brought together key industry experts, community energy representatives and other renewable energy stakeholders.
This second round of consultation with renewable energy stakeholders helped produce a final report by Regen for Cornwall Council, with recommendations to make the draft policies more ambitious in line with the Council’s climate emergency targets. You can read the final report here.
Regen worked with Energy Networks Association (ENA) to deliver a series of community energy forums in September and October 2020. The forums were a dedicated space for community energy representatives from across the UK to get updated on work ENA is doing to shape our energy system, gain insight from ENA’s team, and share their feedback and perspectives on ENA’s workstreams and products. As a key stakeholder group, ENA recognised the need to hear thoughts of community energy stakeholders and help to ensure that changes to our networks to bring about a smart, decarbonised energy system do not exclude community energy.
The key topics and areas for discussion at the community energy forums were:
Regen was one of the partners on OpenLV, a network innovation trial with Western Power Distribution (WPD) which gave communities and businesses access to local electricity substation data. The project trialled an open software platform in electricity substations that monitored substation performance and electricity demand for a local area, and hosted apps that enabled participants to access this data and explore uses for it which benefited communities and the network.
The software was installed in 80 Low Voltage (LV) distribution substations across WPD’s licence areas, and could ultimately be deployed in every LV and High Voltage (HV) substation in Great Britain.
Regen worked alongside the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) to support the eight community groups involved in the trial, and evaluate how useful the local electricity data was for them. For more on how communities used the data, you can read the OpenLV guidebook for community energy organisations, ‘Using data from your local substation’, with case studies on trial participants, along with more information and resources from the project.
This video sets out some of the ways open access to local electricity substation data can help to support people in fuel poverty and vulnerable customers as we transition to a smarter, decarbonised network.
OpenLV was a Western Power Distribution project, funded by the Network Innovation Competition, and delivered by EA Technology.
We helped Western Power Distribution (WPD) produce their Net Zero Communities Strategy, which sets out what they have done, and what they will do next to support community and local energy organisation. The strategy is based on feedback from WPD’s extensive engagement over the past seven years, including participatory events, innovation projects, site visits, guides, consultations, vulnerable customer support and development of website resources.
WPD are keen to continue supporting community energy organisations because they recognise the vital role that these groups play in driving the net zero transition, and ensuring the most vulnerable in our society are not left behind. They recognise that we will not be able to achieve a transition at the speed and scale necessary to meet net zero by 2050 without bringing people with us.
The action plan sets out WPD’s commitments for the year ahead, to guide their work with community and local energy organisations, including:
Carbon reporting on flexibility services they buy
Making a clear statement on the links between carbon/net zero and communities in their next business plan
Collaborating with communities and local authorities on local area energy plans and providing guidance on anticipatory investment to ensure the network is not a barrier
Proactively support community energy organisations to connect to the network
Support communities to work with them on innovation projects and do a specific call for community energy innovation ideas
Since 2013, Regen has worked with Western Power Distribution (WPD) on a programme of community energy engagement to help build a thriving community energy movement across the South West, South Wales and the Midlands. The programme includes online content, but is underpinned by free events aimed at community energy groups, local authorities, academics and local energy stakeholders, to facilitate networking, explore the latest developments in the sector and discuss how communities can be at the heart of a decarbonised, decentralised and democratised energy system.
Over the past seven years, we’ve delivered:
Over 40 community engagement events across WPD’s four licence areas. These have included workshop sessions, site visits to exemplar community energy projects and feasts to allow people to network and share their experiences.
Animations for WPD on the shift to DSO, the growth of electric vehicles, the role of local flexibility, electricity storage, demand side response, local supply and alternative connections.
Write ups of case studies on DNO-community innovation projects, such as OpenLV and the Sunshine Tariff.
A series of podcasts with WPD to share learnings on projects from key communities, featuring South Dartmoor Community Energy, Ambition Lawrence Weston and Brendon Energy.
Three versions of the Connecting Community Energy guide, written in plain English as a guide to getting a network connection for communities, especially in WPD’s licence areas, updated every 2-3 years.
Running a consultation for communities on the future of our electricity network, gathering 46 responses to help WPD understand how they can support communities to participate in our changing system. Responses clearly showed the desire of communities to participate in new developments such as local flexibility, and influence WPD’s strategy to focus more on carbon reduction.
Helping to write WPD’s Net Zero Communities Strategy, which sets out what they have done, and what they will do next to support community and local energy organisations, based on feedback from WPD’s extensive engagement over the past eight years.
Supporting WPD to put out a call for innovation ideas from communities, local authorities or local energy organisations to fund trials through the Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) which explore ways to support people in fuel poverty and vulnerable customers as we transition to a smarter, decarbonised network. The call included a one-page guide to NIA funding.
Recently, these community energy events have focused on innovation and new opportunities in flexibility, as we’ve also explored in our Power to Participate project. Our energy system is changing rapidly and with the closure of the Feed-In Tariff Scheme in 2019, we want to ensure communities are not left behind new developments and understand future opportunities from new innovations and business models. These events are valuable for WPD customers as they:
keep them up to date with the latest connections and innovation news
help them engage in the changes to the energy system, including the transition from Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to Distribution System Operator (DSO)
give them direct access to highly experienced WPD staff
help them share learning from local projects
support regional networking.
The long term and strategic nature of this engagement has led to a positive relationship between the community groups and WPD, with conversations becoming increasingly constructive and forward-looking. Read our blogs following on from the Local Energy, a Flexible Future events in summer 2019. We recently ran the next series of community engagement events with WPD – ‘Communities and the smart energy revolution’. These took place in March 2020 and slides from the events can be found here: Birmingham, Leicester, Carmarthen and Bristol.
Regen worked with Electricity North West (ENWL) to produce an internal report analysing ambitious ideas for how they can better support community energy organisations in their licence area. This report will be used to enhance the business case for further specific actions that ENWL will take to help the community energy movement grow and thrive in the next RIIO price control period (2023-2028).
ENWL want to help deliver a strong and self-sustaining community energy movement in the North West, so Regen supported them to gather evidence, feedback and insight on the ideas, which had evolved from community energy engagement, and internal discussions with the ENWL team. Feedback came from a workshop of key community and local energy stakeholders and interviews with community energy representatives, supplemented by Regen’s extensive experience supporting the community energy movement over the past 8 years.
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Olly manages a wide variety of complex projects. He has developed a strong knowledge…
Regen has supported Northern Powergrid to develop a three-year strategy to engage and support community and local energy stakeholders in their licence areas.
The strategy was developed based on feedback from 17 community energy representatives, who told us what support they need, how they would like to be engaged and what role they want to play in the future energy system. The strategy was also informed by insight from Regen’s community energy engagement experience over the past eight years, and in depth interviews with Northern Powergrid’s senior team, to test the feasibility of new ideas.
This strategy includes Northern Powergrid’s vision, purpose and approach, and an action plan with commitments which Northern Powergrid can work towards over the next three years (2020-2023) to support the community and local energy sector to grow and thrive.
OpenDSR is a government funded project looking to demonstrate a concept for domestic demand side response (DSR) and support the development of a business model for the Energy Community Aggregator Service (ECAS), a community owned DSR aggregator and energy service provider.
The OpenDSR project aims to reduce cost and barriers to domestic participation in demand side response (DSR), achieving this through:
Interoperability – enabling devices, assets and appliances to communicate with each other and external control systems
Open standards – using a minimum standards-based approach to using DSR products
Open source – using freely available, standardised base software for controlling and recording DSR calls, dispatches and transactions/payments
Off the shelf hardware – enabling existing control hardware products/components that meet electrical safety and other industry standards from the outset
The project will test and demonstrate the potential for multiple household energy loads to be controlled remotely to reduce demand at particular times, for example at times of peak electricity demand on either the local electricity network or the national electricity grid. Smart electric vehicle (EV) chargers will be installed in 60 Carbon Co-op members’ homes, and immersion heaters, solar panels and solar diverters will be installed in 40 social households belonging to Great Places in Manchester. Carbon Co-op will aggregate this portfolio of domestic distributed energy resources (DERs) and have an agreement with that householder to be able to:
optimise when electricity is used to save the householder money if they are on a time-of-use tariff (TOUT)
directly control household assets and electric vehicle (EV) charging equipment, to participate in existing and upcoming flexibility markets, sending signals to a Home Energy Management System (HEMS), which the householder can override if they don’t want to participate.
The project builds on the ECAS and OpenDSR Phase 1 feasibility studies.
Regen worked with the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) to explore the potential benefits for community energy organisations of engaging with the Catapult’s Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP) process, as well as the benefits that their engagement would bring to the process. The output was a report for the ESC to inform the development of the LAEP process going forwards.
The LAEP process is a concept that has been developed by the ESC. It aims to create a transparent and evidence-based open dialogue to enable stakeholders, facilitated by local government, to more robustly interrogate different future local energy scenarios and to develop local whole system plans to support cost-effective options for decarbonisation.
To support the roll-out of the LAEP process, the ESC commissioned Jodie Giles, Regen’s community energy expert, and Hazel Williams, Regen’s planning expert, to:
Identify the potential benefits for community energy organisations of engaging with LAEP development and delivery.
Identify the potential benefits for a LAEP process when community energy organisations are engaged.
Based on interviews with community energy organisations and local authorities, Regen uncovered the following key findings:
There are potential economic, social and environmental benefits for communities
By engaging with a LAEP, communities would be able to understand what parts of the future energy system they could benefit from, for example through asset ownership, the revenue it generates, reduced energy costs, and a boost to local employment and growth.
Whilst the environmental benefits are plain to see – lower carbon emissions – perhaps less so are the social benefits. Engagement in a significant long-term project, such as development of new renewable energy generation, involves local people in a range of activities, improving skills and confidence.
By making collective decisions about the use and distribution of income, local communities also develop greater self-determination through the direct control of local resources.
Image – comparison between the community wind farm Awel Aman Tawe and Pen Y Cymoedd wind farm
It will help ensure community groups are ‘transition savvy’
The interviewees believed LAEP would help community energy groups find their place in the new, low carbon energy system, and help them decide which are the best projects for them to focus on. The whole system perspective of LAEP (i.e. to consider how change to one part of the system affect the whole) would help broaden their knowledge and perspective.
The process could also provide evidence to inform grassroots action, for example on decarbonisation and addressing climate change.
It could encourage buy-in from residents
High quality, broad engagement was considered vital to encourage buy-in for any plan from local people and could help address the common criticism that top-down plans often fail to account for local circumstances.
Community energy organisations have close relationships with many stakeholders including consumers, private and social landlords, and investors. As a trusted local organisation with a history of local engagement, they could facilitate positive engagement with the wider local community.
Overall, community energy representatives were overwhelmingly positive about local area energy planning. Done well, the interviewees believed it would probably add confidence to community energy plans and support inward public and private investment from landowners, funders and investors.
Community energy organisations are important local energy system actors and agents of change
Community energy organisations are ambitious in what they’re trying to achieve and fully on-board with the drive to eliminate carbon emissions from the energy system.
These characteristics, combined with their knowledge of the local energy system, make them key players in ensuring that the local energy planning process maximises the benefits it could bring to the public.
Looking to the future for Local Area Energy Planning
The ESC is working with Ofgem and Government to test the potential of rolling out such an approach more widely. The LAEP concept is referenced in recent RIIO-2 Business Plan guidance.