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Emerging Insights on Smart Local Energy Systems

12 October 2021

Many of the actions needed to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions are highly place-based, which combined with wider trends of digitalisation, decentralisation and democratisation in energy can make local solutions central to helping the UK achieve its net zero carbon targets and wider societal goals.

Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES) could play a key role in accelerating growth in integrated energy systems and services by proving scalable local business models and unlocking private investment. These are central objectives of the Prospering from the Energy Revolution Programme, which since December 2018 has been funding the EnergyREV academic consortium to help drive forward research and innovation in SLES. Some of the emerging insights from this work are summarised in an EnergyREV interim review of their research ‘Starting to Join the Dots’.

Examining SLES from a range of perspectives, some of the key cross-cutting themes and findings highlighted in the review include:

  • Local authorities have a central role to play in enabling SLES to flourish
  • Well directed public funding can drive investment by levering much larger sums
  • Separate technologies and actors can interoperate and coordinate in a system that produces more value than the sum of its parts.
  • An anticipated benefit from well-coordinated SLES is their potential to unlock energy system flexibility, through a combination of energy storage and demand response, potentially mediated by local energy markets.
  • SLES could lead to financial savings or increased revenues for their participants.
  • Benefits for participants are affected by the different ways they are treated or framed e.g.  consumers, prosumers, citizens, owners, etc.

The review provides a range of practical recommendations specific to the different themes within EnergyREV, as well as highlighting where there are broad areas of alignment in advice for policymakers, practitioners and researchers. It also includes a summary of a range of practical tools and resources produced by EnergyREV. These include new frameworks, guidelines and tools for those involved in SLES, including their planning and provision.

A three-page summary of Starting to Join the Dots is available, along with a more detailed report that sets out the findings, recommendations and resources in more detail. These can be accessed from the EnergyREV website:

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