The second leg of our ‘Communities and the Smart Energy Revolution’ tour with Western Power Distribution (WPD) took us to Leicester, where we welcomed many new faces starting to enter the world of community and local energy, as well as people who have been involved with community energy projects in the East Midlands for several years.

As one of the 274 local authorities who have declared a climate emergency, there was strong representation from Leicester City Council. They are looking across their departments at how carbon emissions can be reduced, with new EV chargepoint schemes and a Next Generation funded project with Green Fox Community Energy to develop a zero-carbon business model for multi academy trusts. This is a key example of new partnerships being forged as we set out on the path to net zero, and the role community energy has in facilitating new business models.

At the event we heard from Ben Dodd of Green Fox Community Energy about the work they’re doing to develop new business models such as this. Green Fox own the largest community renewable heat project in England, a 2 MW biomass boiler providing renewable heat for Hinckley Academy, with income from the scheme helping energy efficiency measures in other nearby schools, demonstrating the local benefits and partnerships which community energy delivers.

With their Next Generation project, Green Fox Community Energy and Leicester City Council are working with the academy trust who are incentivised to reduce energy consumption with the goal of zero carbon schools, through an energy services contract. The community will then look to build on this business model and look to provide flexibility services to the network.

This is where WPD can help, as they look to roll out the OpenLV platform to other communities following a successful network innovation trial. OpenLV gives community energy groups and other interested local energy stakeholders access to local electricity substation data, potentially better enabling groups to offer network services with more rich, local data, and build business models which incorporate this.

One of the main network services which local energy could be in a position to provide is local flexibility, you can find out more about WPD’s offering on their Flexible Power website. If you’re in one of WPD’s licence areas you can register your interest in accessing OpenLV data here, and you can find all the presentations from the Leicester event on our website.

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