Community groups playing an important role in the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy, will get expert help from UK Power Networks.
The company that delivers electricity to more than eight million homes and businesses across London, the South East and East of England is becoming a Principal Supporter of Community Energy England, which supports the community energy sector.
The move will see UK Power Networks offer its support to community energy groups who have an important role to play in the low carbon transition. About 60 community energy groups in the areas served by UK Power Networks are already helping to transform the generation, distribution use of energy in local communities. This represents 25% of such groups across England and Wales.
UK Power Networks launched its involvement in Community Energy Fortnight (June 23-July 8) by speaking at the Community Energy Conference in Manchester.
It will become the first electricity network operator to run a consultation in partnership with Community Energy England so that it can understand more about the regional needs and aspirations of community groups. It will launch a dedicated section for community energy on the UK Power Networks website on 5 July.
The kinds of projects that community energy groups can take part in range from communities owning electricity sources, like solar or wind turbines, to working with electricity networks to test smart technologies. They focus on reducing energy use, managing energy better, generating energy and purchasing energy.
Lynne McDonald, programme manager in UK Power Networks’ Smart Grid team, said that joining Community Energy England would bring the company much closer to community energy groups: “Community energy has an important role to play in the move towards a smart, decentralised, low carbon energy system. We’re looking forward to working with Community Energy England and community energy groups to understand more about what they want and need from industry and future energy networks.
“We’re going to offer advice and support so that they can form really well-informed views and make choices to ensure we are building a smart grid that responds to their needs.
“We are increasingly opening new markets to procure flexible energy services to offer support at peak times, as a cost-effective alternative to building more infrastructure like substations and cables. We want to help community energy organisations take part in our smart grid, and this is a start.”
Emma Bridge, Chief Executive of Community Energy England, said: “We’re delighted to be working with UK Power Networks on behalf of our members. The support of another major utility company demonstrates that community energy is being taken seriously and has great potential to support electricity networks. We want to work together to open new markets and income streams for our members, benefitting everyone by getting more renewable energy onto the network at lower cost.”