Community energy powers thousands of homes in the South
Community energy is powering thousands of homes in the South East, East of England and London, according to a newly published report into local generation with Community Energy England and Community Energy South.
UK Power Networks is the first electricity network operator to work closely with South East community energy groups to undertake a comprehensive review of the region’s sector so it can understand more about their needs and aspirations. The company recently launched a dedicated new section for community energy on its website.
The Community Energy Regional Report found that there are 50 different community energy projects connected to UK Power Networks three networks. They generate 14.6 MW of electricity, enough to power 4,200 homes for a year solely off renewable energy and saving carbon emissions equivalent to more than 7,000 flights between London and New York.
The report will be launched at an event in the Houses of Parliament today, hosted by UK Power Networks, Community Energy England and Community Energy South.
The majority of community electricity generation in the region comes from two solar farms owned by Orchard Community Energy in Kent and Meadow Blue Energy in West Sussex, which generate 10.4 MW between them. A total of 19 more organisations, many of them based in London and around Brighton, generate 4.2 MW of electricity from small-scale rooftop solar schemes.
As well as generating clean energy, community energy projects are also involved in activities including energy efficiency, environmental protection and generating heat.
The report highlights the fact community energy schemes could be well-placed to take advantage of new opportunities arising in the community energy sector from the growing low carbon economy. UK Power Networks last year became the first network operator to offer increased opportunities for distributed energy resources to generate new income streams by selling services such as flexibility.
Amber Rudd MP, Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye said: “I strongly support the work of community energy companies on several important fronts. They are playing their part in getting more low carbon energy into the system while helping some of our most vulnerable residents. I’m delighted to see UK Power Networks forging closer links with community energy groups, including the important work they are doing in my own constituency of Hastings and Rye with Energise Sussex Coast.”
Mark Adolphus, Director of Connections at UK Power Networks said: “The community energy movement has given local areas and neighbourhoods the opportunity to harness the benefits of generating their own clean, renewable energy.
“As new technologies such as smart energy management, energy storage and low carbon become more widespread these opportunities will only increase. We look forward to continuing to support community energy projects.”
Ollie Pendered, Chief Executive of Community Energy South said: “The UK energy sector is in the process of dramatic change. Community energy groups are critical to this shift and will help bring benefits and opportunities to communities across the country. Our partnership with UK Power Networks is key to this adaptation as together we lead the transition toward a smarter approach to coordinating a future proof interconnected energy system.”
Last year UK Power Networks launched a dedicated community energy section of its website so that organisations and people interested in starting a project can access key information. You can view the pages here: https://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/electricity/distribution-energy-resources/community-energy
To view the full report of the Community Energy Regional Research visit the UK Power Networks Community Energy pages here
Background about Flexibility
In 2018 UK Power Networks became the first network operator in the UK to commit to a “Flexibility First” approach to reinforcing its network. Flexibility seeks to save customers money by buying generation or storage capacity to manage peaks in demand rather than spending on large-scale projects to build new infrastructure.
UK Power Networks is working with the online platform Piclo, which enables flexible energy resources like community energy projects to explore an interactive map that matches providers with pinch-points on the network, places where UK Power Networks is seeking flexibility to add capacity. Community projects can view the zones and register their interest here: https://picloflex.com/dashboard