In an effort to develop an all-inclusive energy system, the Energy Networks Association’s Open Networks Project has launched a series of ‘Community Energy Forums’.
The forums were announced at the Community Energy England Conference on Friday (18 October), and will be held throughout the country in 2020.
David Smith, the chief executive of the ENA, said that the forums won’t just be helpful for the Open Networks Project, but also useful for community energy groups and good for the public.
“This new formal commitment to further integrate community energy into the Project will help the vital work to decarbonise and decentralise our networks while improving the access that community groups have to the energy networks.”
As the share of renewables in the grid increases, with a third of the UKs electricity now generated by renewables, the need for broader engagement is growing.
The ENA has said that the “decarbonised energy future is as much local as it is national" and the networks are already working with communities to ensure a lower cost, resilient, zero carbon energy system "that leaves nobody behind".
The association therefore hopes that engaging with local energy groups, at key times such as during consultation periods, will help to build momentum.
Emma Bridge, chief executive, Community Energy England, added: “Community energy organisations across the UK are exploring new ways to accelerate the transition to a fair, sustainable, smart and net zero energy system.
“These new Community Energy Forums will provide a meaningful and straight forward way for communities to contribute to the decarbonisation plans for the networks and to highlight opportunities for increasing local engagement and impact by community energy projects.”
The launch of community forums marks a continued interest in bridging the gap between national and local energy. Last month, the ENA kicked off a £70 million hunt for energy network innovation last month, with one of the priorities projects would need to address being community energy.