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SP Energy Networks launches the world’s first zero carbon communities tool to support the UK’s community energy sector

Niamh Marriott, Editor

17/07/2020

Tags: Energy Efficiency

Topics: Power, Energy Efficiency

Electricity network operator SP Energy Networks has revealed its new open source tool to help communities across the UK realise their net zero emissions ambitions.

SP Energy Networks has created its Zero Carbon Communities tool as a free, centralised source of information to bring together shared knowledge of local community energy projects, as part of efforts to boost investment in the growth of the community energy sector and wider economy.

The industry-leading tool will be used by community groups planning and developing renewable energy projects – helping them decide on technology, location, scale, governance and management processes. It provides guidance and signposting on how to approach each area to overcome potential problems at an early stage and shorten project lead times.

The new tool has been created with support from Community Energy Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway College and the Energy Skills Partnership. It will address the gap highlighted by WPI Economics’ independent State of the Sector report as well as feedback that community groups need a central source of trusted network information alongside practical ‘how to’ advice that only network operators can provide. As the UK’s energy is increasingly generated in the communities where it will be used, community groups have the potential to provide local energy solutions that meet local needs and maximise local benefits such as job creation.

Sustained financial support from the devolved governments and third sector support organisations have especially helped community energy innovation progress in the last 10 years in Scotland and Wales. Previously, community energy projects may have involved full or part-time community ownership of technology such as solar PV or a local hydro scheme. Nowadays, savvy communities are creating local energy economies through initiatives like clubbing together their local energy demand to offer flexibility services to network operators or using local electric fleet vehicle batteries as network storage solutions.

Guy Jefferson, SP Energy Networks Customer Service Director, said: “Community energy projects have the potential to transform the UK’s energy sector with the introduction of renewable technology specific to the needs of the local area.

“Our new Zero Carbon Communities tool will help organisations through the planning and development process, allowing them to overcome potential pitfalls and get the right investment in place quicker than ever before. Bespoke local energy solutions are required if the UK is going to meet its net zero emissions targets.”

Each community has different support needs and opportunities when it comes to local energy projects. The Zero Carbon Communities tool is designed to provide step-by-step support, technical information and inspiring examples to help facilitate bespoke projects that meet local needs. SP Energy Networks is focused on leading the way to help individuals and their local communities build local network resilience and boost local green economies while accelerating the transition to net zero emissions.

Nicholas Gubbins, CEO at Community Energy Scotland, said: “The Zero Carbon Communities tool allows us to move to a more tailored energy solution rather than a one size fits all method.

“There’s opportunity for a range of local energy projects which is extremely positive as the electricity network can be tailored for local demand. For example, modern storage heaters can store heat and can measure how much heat is being used and link this to the price a customer pays.

“Ultimately, the tool is great as it allows people to have information on how to move to smarter energy projects more easily.”

SP Energy Networks is committed to helping the country on its journey to recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak and a more sustainable future. Green recovery and investment in renewable energy is at the heart of the country’s economic recovery, providing a driving force that will help deliver essential net zero ambitions.

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