An estimated 803 million citizens across 26 countries live in areas that have declared a climate emergency. Cities, regions and councils are now taking on a leading role in the challenge of achieving net zero energy systems.

The surge of local leadership on ending carbon emissions comes at the same time as seismic shifts in energy technology. Decentralised renewable generation and digital control systems are enabling us to rethink the energy towards a more flexible bottom-up approach towards zero carbon energy systems.

The transformation of the energy system will require whole systems solutions that address power, heat, housing and transport. This can realistically only be done at a local level with an understanding of the local energy system in detail. What and where are the energy assets and resources? What are the current and future local energy needs? What projects are planned in the area?

We also need to bring the community with us on the journey to a zero-carbon energy system. Ensuring that solutions meet consumers needs and have a positive impact on people’s busy lives. By focusing efforts in a defined area, the local energy characteristics can be better assessed, and the right solutions deployed.

Which is why we are happy to confirm our role as a project partner in two pioneering smart local energy system projects announced last week by the UK government. A total of £90 million was confirmed, with £21 million awarded to 10 ground-breaking projects focused on the detailed design of smart local energy systems programme, as part of a wider Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund programme called Prospering from the Energy Revolution.

Regen is a project partner in the following two projects:

  • Zero Carbon Rugeley – will deliver a detailed design of a smart local energy system for Rugeley Town and its local area, including the 2,300 houses being built in the former ENGIE Rugeley Power Station.
    • Regen role: leading on the policy and regulation work package, reporting and collating the latest changes and the impact on the Zero Carbon Rugeley project. We are also supporting other partners on the business models, buildings and user-centric design work packages.
  • Greater Manchester Local Energy Market – will test the feasibility of a Greater Manchester region-wide local energy market response to ‘place-based’ constraints and market needs. The key driver for the project is to enable and increase the flexibility in the energy distribution network.
    • Regen role: leading on the business model and local energy market work packages. Supporting other partners on the value sharing proposition for domestic and non-domestic consumers and policy and regulatory work packages.

By establishing the detailed designs and business models for smart local energy systems, these new multi-million pound projects will help us to create a portfolio of investable projects that can be rolled out. Starting delivery at the local level, as we aim for the national zero carbon energy system that the climate emergency demands.

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Building on our work on local energy systems

Regen has been very active in championing local energy solutions over several years. Our work has included our extensive engagement with the community energy sector, local supply paper (3rd edition), and the sunshine tariff.

More recently Open DSR, Bristol Energy Smart System Transformation (BESST) and Power to Participate (see graphic below) have unpicked some of the key barriers and opportunities available for smaller and decentralised assets in local energy systems.

Flexibility Graphic

Our Energy systems for the future paper examined how the energy networks can help deliver a decarbonised and democratised energy system. A core finding of the paper is that radical reform of the current regulatory model for the energy networks is needed to meet the climate emergency and to ensure public trust that the industry can deliver a zero carbon energy system that is sustainable, resilient and affordable.

If you would like to know more about any of these projects, please contact Olly Frankland ofrankland@regen.co.uk

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