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Exploring the Evolution of Low-Carbon Local Energy

The nature of local energy is changing fast. Instead of single technology projects that generate heat and/or electricity, we are now seeing more joined-up schemes that might involve energy storage, smart demand management, and more consumer engagement.

The UK is well-placed to take advantage of the new opportunities this will present and the IMechE can assist by bringing people across the industry together for knowledge sharing events, like our Community Renewable Energy Workshop [1] that was used to inform this report.

To enable the expansion of local energy schemes that help the UK to meet its decarbonisation targets, while also providing wider system benefits and encouraging innovation. This report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers explores this exciting sector and makes recommendations, including:

  • The implementation of the proposed Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), in which small generators are paid for the value of the electricity they produce at a given time rather than a fixed price, should be a priority. The policy outcomes should be monitored to ensure developers are fairly rewarded and barriers to entry are not burdensome.
  • The UK Government and devolved administrations should conduct reviews into the planning system, against the suspicion that low-carbon local energy projects are being held back by unnecessarily strict regulations.
  • IMechE and other similar organisations should do more to create an evidence base for determining how successful previous local energy projects have been. Government should provide extra funding for local councils to allow them to participate in the evaluations.
  • The UK’s universities should increasingly become test-beds for new energy technologies. Government should incentivise further trials to take place on campuses, which could be partnerships between the universities, students, academics, local energy companies/co-operatives and DNOs.

Related links

Find out more: 

  • Presentation slides from the IMechE Community Renewable Energy Workshop, along with output from breakout sessions during which various related questions were put to delegates.


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