Topics discussed included ENA’s Open Networks, Gas Goes Green and Innovation projects.
Last week marked Energy Networks Association’s (ENA) first Community Energy Forum of the year, with the theme of ‘Getting our networks to Net Zero’. Introduced last year, this is the first of a number of forums that will be held in 2021 to help community groups voices be heard by the networks.
Community energy groups and projects are vital in the transition to a low-carbon, more decentralised energy network and meeting the Government’s ambitious Net Zero target. Holding forums to hear community energy perspectives will allow ENA to engage and collaborate in a more meaningful way ensure that we are delivering the transition together by taking everyone with us on the journey.
Hosted by community energy and engagement specialists Regen, along with the support and input of Community Energy England, almost 30 community energy representatives joined via Zoom from all over the UK joined to provide direct feedback on ENA’s work.
Following introductions, the session heard project updates from Open Networks and Gas Goes Green with the opportunity to comment and ask questions to the ENA team. Two productive roundtable discussions were then held: Communities in our future energy system and Digitalisation of the Connections Process. For the former the groups offered insights into what more the Open Networks and Gas Goes Green projects could be exploring to get our networks to Net Zero, and for the latter it was debated how the Digitalisation of the Connections Process can better suit community organisations and whether it will make it more likely for them to invest in heat pumps, Electric Vehicles (EVs) and EV infrastructure.
Farina Farrier, Head of Open Networks at Energy Networks Association, commented:
"The future of energy is as local as it is national and getting community energy further integrated into the project will help Britain transition to a smart grid that works for all.
“The forums offer an opportunity for community groups to bring thoughts, views and barriers straight to the networks at an important time as they build the nations smart grid. They allow for the Open Networks project to speak directly with the groups impacted, ensuring their issues are heard and solutions are found.
“I’d also like to thank Community Energy England for their continued support and look forward to taking part in this year’s Community Energy Fortnight as part of our ongoing engagement with community groups.”
Jodie Giles, Senior Project Manager, Regen, added:
“We are delighted to be working with ENA on these community energy forums again this year. It’s great to see ENA engaging long term with community organisations who have so much to contribute to the net zero transition.
“This is a critical forum for distribution network operators to receive grassroots feedback, and for communities to be able to build their knowledge and capacity. Community energy organisations act as trusted intermediaries in our energy system, ensuring people are engaged in the transition and that no one is left behind.”
Notes to editor
- The next forum is on Thursday 22 July, please email: Opennetworks@energynetworks.org if you are a community energy practitioner and are interested in attending.
- ENA’s Open Networks project brings together electricity transmission and distribution network companies with industry stakeholders, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the energy regulator Ofgem, to lay the foundations for the smart grid in Great Britain and inform future developments Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
- ENA’s Gas Goes Green programme will deliver the world’s first zero carbon gas grid, helping meet the UK’s net zero carbon emissions target. Bringing together the engineering expertise of Britain’s five gas network companies with the wider energy industry, policymakers, and academics. The programme will make the changes needed to move Britain's gas network infrastructure from delivering methane-based natural gas to zero carbon hydrogen and biomethane.
- ENA’s Innovation team identifies emerging technologies and opportunities that increase the efficiency of operations, enhance overall safety, provide a reliable network and help to meet our net zero targets.
- Regen is a not-for-profit centre of energy expertise and market insight whose mission is to transform the world’s energy systems for a zero-carbon future.
- Community Energy Fortnight (CEF) is the UK's annual celebration of all things community energy. This year it is taking place 14-27 June and the theme is 'We The Power'. More information is available on Community Energy England's website.
- Community energy refers to the delivery of community-led renewable energy, energy demand reduction and energy supply projects, whether wholly owned and/or controlled by communities or through partnership with commercial or public sector partners.
- Community energy has the potential to draw people in, not just as consumers but also as active participants, or partners, in a process of change.
About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the companies which operate the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
What are energy network operators?
Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 45,000 people in the UK and Ireland. They are represented by their industry body, Energy Networks Association (that's us).