A few weeks ago, we were in Birmingham for the first of our ‘Communities and the Smart Energy Revolution’ events with Western Power Distribution (WPD). We welcomed community energy organisations, local authorities, energy suppliers, academics and consultants, all of whom are hoping to take action to decarbonise our energy system and were looking for practical ways to work with WPD and other partners to achieve this.

Participants wanted to find out about the latest developments happening in our energy system, and the role of community energy in this, on the path to net zero. To help everyone understand how this might work practically, we invited Felix Wight from Repowering London to share with us about their approach to doing domestic demand side response (DSR) and democratising access to network services.

Repowering are one of the partners on the Home Response trial, a two-year pilot project, testing flexible energy solutions in homes in London. The community energy organisation are leading on the recruitment part of the trial, as they are uniquely placed to start conversations with people about energy use and be a trusted voice to introduce them to new concepts such as flexibility as they are already visiting homes to advise on energy and help people in fuel poverty.

This demonstrates the ‘USP’ of community energy in our future smart and flexible energy system. Community energy organisations have a unique role in engaging the general public as they are known and trusted within many communities, acting in the best interest of the community. Many of these groups are already visiting homes to help people in fuel poverty, support energy efficiency measures and help people switch energy supplier. Repowering have identified an opportunity here to stack this sort of service delivery with flexibility and are looking to community funds rather than individual payments to further reduce transaction costs and make what is a marginal business case for flexibility services, better stack up.

For aggregators and system operators who are looking at how they can unlock the potential of domestic flexibility for new business models or network services, community energy organisations have the skills and capability to offer a relatively low-cost, ethical, consumer-focused way to access this. Models such as this and Carbon Co-op’s Energy Community Aggregator Service are exemplar ways for community energy to engage people in the smart energy revolution and ensure the benefits of a smarter system are shared fairly.

To find out more about WPD’s flexibility services, visit their Flexible Power website. You can find out more about the Home Response trial here, Regen and Carbon Co-op’s work on the ECAS through the OpenDSR project here and see the presentations from the event in Birmingham here.

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