Northern Powergrid has launched a new project with consultancies TNEI and LCP Delta to help develop a new framework for enabling smart local energy systems (SLES) across the low voltage network.
Northern Powergrid will establish a Community Distribution System Operator (Community DSO) project. It will look to enable communities to pursue their own decarbonisation agenda by granting further control over energy and assets.
The Community DSO project will develop and trial different approaches to identify how communities and local stakeholders can work together with local distribution network operators (DNOs) to deploy SLES. Trials will take place in four local communities encompassing rural and urban networks.
This could potentially help unlock local energy independence and incentivise local decarbonisation initiatives. The project is supported by energy regulator Ofgem with £14.5 million in funding.
The project will seek to provide a proof of concept of a new replicable local energy market framework operating on local networks and addressing local network and energy issues. This can then be deployed across the majority of network areas.
Should the project be successful, it could contribute to the local rollout of low carbon technologies. SLES supports local communities and creates value on the distribution systems rather than the transmission system, the firms said.
The data from the project will be used to inform the future network operation strategies and changes required to regulation. The project is expected to run until 2028.
Northern Powergrid referenced a number of technologies that could be boosted by SLES. This includes domestic solar generation, EVs and EV charging, and heat-pumps.
“This project aims to simplify and encourage decarbonisation in local communities, minimising the barriers and maximising the incentives. It is a bold, yet achievable, innovation project and one that will see modifications to DNO’s roles; becoming a responsive facilitator of customers’ needs,” said Paul Glendinning, Northern Powergrid’s director of policy and markets.
Northern Powergrid will lead the project and host the trials, in addition to providing electricity, safety and continuity regulations (ESQCR) oversight.
LCP Delta will advise on delivery and business models, manage customer research and engagement, and toolkit development. TNEI will alternatively work with Northern Powergrid to understand network impact, lead the development of technical SLES solution specifications, and undertake simulations for virtual trials.
“Community DSO addresses many of the energy transition challenges for the first time in a single project – optimising the system for both markets and networks, whilst enabling local communities and all customers to benefit from local energy management,” said Andrew Turton, head of consulting at LCP Delta.