Power to Participate
A specification for community energy to
participate in a flexible energy system

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”Our electricity system is changing. Centralised fossil fuel plants are being replaced by distributed renewable energy generation. Demand has been falling as we have got more efficient, but it is forecast to grow as we start to use electric vehicles and switch to electric heating.

Emerging information and communication technologies and the fall in the price of batteries mean that rather than simply building more generation and network assets we can make the most of flexibility in how we generate, store and use power to manage the electricity system more dynamically and efficiently. Markets are being established by national and distribution electricity system operators to value flexibility.

In an increasingly decentralised energy system community and local energy projects could play a major role in reducing demand and providing distributed, flexible low carbon assets all around the country. Understanding and participating in the purchase and provision of flexibility could also be a stepping-stone to developing local energy markets where communities can invest in, operate and benefit from their own energy assets.

We believe markets for providing flexibility to the electricity system should be open to community and local energy organisations.

The organisations can access a wide range of local energy assets and bring a unique set of social and economic advantages to the table.
There are, however, significant barriers to community and local stakeholders engaging in flexibility services.

• System operators are required to be technology neutral and focus on reducing customer bills. Community and local organisations want to use flexibility
to enable more low carbon generation to connect – contributing to addressing the climate crisis
• Providing flexibility services is complex and prices paid are currently low, making investment to provide such services very challenging.

The aim of this document is to help address these barriers, in particular to:
1 provide insight to local and community energy organisations that want to explore new the opportunities flexibility services offer
2 provide a specification of the approach flexibility service purchasers should take to encourage the widest participation

This document has been written as part of Power to Participate, a Friends Provident Foundation funded project that is exploring how community energy organisations could be enabled to participate in emerging flexibility markets, as a key step towards a democratic and decarbonised energy system. Through this and other projects, Regen has engaged with dozens of community energy groups and most of the GB distribution network operators , discussing flexibility services in detail.”

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