Ky Hoare, our local energy coordinator, shares lessons from the OpenLV innovation trial
Regen was a partner on OpenLV, a network innovation project for Western Power Distribution (WPD) which gave communities access to local electricity substation data. Along with Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), Regen supported eight community energy groups and housing associations involved in the trial, with varying levels of local energy expertise.
The trial participants all came up with different and interesting ways to make use of the data to suit their community – exploring new business models, engaging their community in energy issues or assessing the impact of low carbon technologies on the local network. The communities accessed their local substation data on an app designed by CSE showing their community energy use at different substations which was supplemented with information about carbon intensity, electricity cost and local renewable generation.
The OpenLV project wasn’t without its difficulties, such as time constraints due to many community energy organisations being volunteer led. Yet we did see what communities could achieve when given support and access to relevant energy data. We were given a glimpse into a smart grid future where local people can make well-informed decisions about their energy use and benefit from the low carbon transition.
Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE) used OpenLV data as part of their Solar Streets project, where they measured the impact of local rooftop solar and home battery storage installations they’d done on the local substation. Other community groups used the data to introduce people to new energy concepts like local flexibility or teach schoolchildren about energy and climate change. For example, Tamar Energy Community (TEC) used OpenLV data in their ‘The Power in Your Hands’ project where, as well as door-knocking in the local community, they ran ‘Eco Clubs’ in the local school.
What this showed us again is how community energy organisations can effectively act as a conduit between local people and the wider energy system, so are well-placed to be catalysts for helping smart local energy systems become a reality.
Ensuring communities can participate in our future energy system is one of the key themes of Regen’s work. We’ve also been working with UKRI and Energy Systems Catapult to explore how open data can enable greater innovation in local energy systems.
You can now read the OpenLV guidebook for community energy organisations, ‘Using data from your local substation’ with case studies on community participants, along with more information and resources from the OpenLV trial. Regen does a wide variety of work to support community and local energy organisations, and you can see more of it on our website.