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New Energy Guide Launched to Help Communities Innovate Their Way to Smarter, Cleaner Energy System

11 April 2018


Local electricity network operators have joined forces today to release a guide to help communities to get involved with innovation projects to support a smarter, cleaner energy system. The guide is being published by Energy Networks Association in partnership with community energy experts Regen. Independent research carried out by Pöyry has shown that network companies’ existing innovation projects could deliver up to £1.7bn of benefits by 2031.

The new publication ‘Electricity Network Innovation Guide for Communities’ features practical advice for community energy groups who want to get involved in moves to ensure our energy system continues to be reliable, cost-effective, and low carbon, by managing how we generate, distribute and use electricity in a smarter way. It also features examples of innovative projects that local electricity network operators and community energy groups have already worked on together, such as smart charging for electric vehicles to avoid peak demand periods.

Randolph Brazier, Head of Innovation and Development at ENA said: “Energy is changing fundamentally because of the seismic shift to decentralisation, decarbonisation and digitisation: and innovation is key to that process. Through innovation we are already driving the delivery of green energy, connecting more than 28GW of distributed energy projects in recent years - that’s half of Britain’s total energy demand at peak times – and community energy groups have played a key part in that, helping to facilitate this once in a generation shift we are currently experiencing. We are delighted to publish this guide to support communities across Britain to engage in local electricity network operators’ innovation programmes and we are committed to ensuring a broad range of stakeholders have the opportunity to participate.”

Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen, said: “Building a smarter, cleaner and decentralised energy system is about people as well as technology. We are pleased to be working with local electricity network operators to enable community energy groups to be at heart of the pioneering innovation projects that are reshaping our energy system to the benefit of all.”

The new guide builds on a programme of engagement events around the country, held in 2016 and 2017, which offered community energy groups the opportunity to engage in local electricity network innovation projects. The events were attended by over 300 people from community energy groups, local authorities and universities and two further events are now planned for 2018.

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Notes to editor

  • ENA is the voice of the networks representing the ‘wires and pipes’ transmission and distribution network operators for gas and electricity in the UK and Ireland. Serving over 30 million customers, they are responsible for the transmission and distribution network of “wires and pipes” that keep our lights on, our homes warm and our businesses running.
  • Regen passionately believes that sustainable energy has a vital role at the heart of a successful economy and thriving local communities. We are an independent not for profit that uses our expertise to work with industry, communities and the public sector to revolutionise the way we generate, supply and use energy.
  • Independent research commissioned by Pöyry conducted in October 2016 for Ofgem estimated that future net benefits resulting from innovation projects carried out with funding from the Low Carbon Network Fund were between £1.1bn to £1.7bn (p.78). The report can be found online here.

About Energy Networks Association

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing 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 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 40,000 people in Great Britain.

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