Commissioned by the University of Strathclyde, Regen has been synthesising insights from across the EnergyREV programme of research, to share evidence-based recommendations for growing smart local energy systems across the UK.

Project duration: March 2023 – March 2024

Project lead: Rebecca Ford, Head of Demand and Flexibility

What is EnergyREV? 

EnergyREV is a research consortium of more than 90 researchers from 22 UK universities to deliver research that supports the uptake and impact of Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES). It was funded under Innovate UK’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER) programme, which set out to demonstrate the viability, impact and future prospects of smart local energy systems. From 2018-2023, the consortium produced more than 60 reports and countless more academic papers. 

In this project, Regen has pulled together key insights from across EnergyREV’s research into a report, Lessons from EnergyREV: The role of smart local energy systems in a net zero future. This provides evidence-based recommendations for UK and devolved governments, Ofgem and those working to deliver smart energy places. 

Why are smart local energy systems important? 

SLES bring together energy supply, storage, heat, transport and buildings in a local area. They connect them in a smart way using data and digital technologies and provide new ways for people, communities and other local stakeholders to get involved. They can deliver many important local and national outcomes, including: 

  • Energy system benefits, such as grid optimisation, enhanced voltage and frequency control, grid stabilisation, improved energy security, and balancing, capacity and flexibility services. 
  • Financial benefits through reduced need for grid reinforcement and from targeted place-specific action. 
  • Economic benefits via local supply chains; employment, up- and reskilling opportunities; spin-out of innovation; and increased local revenue.  
  • Household benefits through energy and bill savings, fuel poverty reduction, increased thermal comfort and reduced technology costs or payback periods.  
  • Environmental and social benefits such as carbon reduction and improved air quality, improved health and wellbeing, community empowerment and social cohesion. 
  • Equity and justice outcomes through public engagement and decision making, inclusive governance, local ownership and fairer distribution of costs and benefits. 

How can these benefits be unlocked? 

This work highlights seven key building blocks necessary for unlocking the value in SLES, and provides a series of recommendations for government policymakers, Ofgem, SLES developers, SLES programme funders, and educators and qualifying bodies. These recommendations outline steps that these different stakeholders can take to deliver the seven SLES building blocks and unlock a wide range of value for a variety of energy system stakeholders. 

SLES Building Blocks

What needs to happen next?

Insights drawn across the seven SLES building blocks revealed cross-cutting challenges. To address these, and ensure SLES are successful and flourish across the UK, key next steps include:

  1. Assigning a policy ‘owner’ and creating a national vision and strategy for SLES.
  2. Devolving power and resources to local authorities to deliver SLES and building capacity by investing in local authority net zero teams.
  3. Building better governance and accountability structures across the public sector and encouraging these in the private and third sectors.
  4. Aligning value for all stakeholders so everyone is motivated and working towards the same goal.
  5. Reframing innovation and talking openly about ’failures’ so we can collectively learn and improve SLES and keep going on the challenging journey to net zero.

The final report, Lessons from EnergyREV: The role of smart local energy systems in a net zero future, will be launched at an online event on March 26, which will include responses and perspectives from key stakeholders. You can sign up here.

For more information on this area of work, please reach out to Regen’s Head of Demand and Flexibility, and EnergyREV Research Director, Rebecca Ford.

People on this project

Tamar Bourne
Head of innovation
Tamar is the head of innovation at Regen. She strives to be at the…
Rebecca Ford
Head of Demand and Flexibility
Rebecca is Head of Demand and Flexibility at Regen, leading work at the nexus…

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