A new International Community for Local Smart Grids (ICLSG) initiative has been launched by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), Ausgrid, the Enel Group and the University of Oxford.
It will look to increase knowledge sharing between community energy groups and electricity networks, increasing insight from innovation projects and facilitating discussions around the challenges of decarbonisation.
"Achieving net zero is a global challenge that will be delivered locally through people and their communities,” said Chris Burchell, managing director of SSEN Distribution.
“Electricity networks have a critical enabling role in making opportunities accessible and easy to understand. From ensuring electric vehicles can connect, to supporting the electrification of heating, to helping customers become electricity generators of their own; we’re planning now for how we’ll power communities to decarbonise in a smart, secure and fair manner at a time they need and wish to."
The ICLSG partnership will run over five years, and look to engage with smart grids around the world. Japan’s TEPCO Power Grid is the first Network Partner to job the initiative, highlighting the breadth of the partnership according to SSE.
Based in Oxford, the Low Carbon Hub (LCH) will be used throughout the initiative to explore how households and businesses can participate in the wider network transition. Community energy participants will be announced in 2022.
Throughout the project, the University of Oxford will undertake original research into the shared challenges and opportunities in delivering net zero at a local level .
Around the world, different locations are facing different challenges in terms of decarbonising their grid. Ausgrid is investing in local batteries to support the growth of solar generation, while SSEN is exploring how to manage the rapid increase of electric vehicles for example, but they hope lessons can be learnt that are widely applicable.
“We have joined the ICLSG so we can collaborate with some of the best minds in the world to develop innovative, sustainable and affordable solutions for our customers,” said Richard Gross, CEO of Ausgrid.
“Transitioning customers to net zero through use of Smart Grids allows technologies like solar PV, community batteries, or electric vehicles to be used in a coordinated, sustainable and affordable way.”
The ICLSG initiative will be officially launched by SSEN Distribution, Ausgrid, Enel, LCH and the University of Oxford at an event on 2 November, which will form part of COP26.