Engerati’s Week in Smart Energy: the power of community energy

Community renewable energy projects
The UK is actively developing community renewable energy schemes with initiatives such as the GBP15 million Rural Community Energy Fund

Community power is an important and growing piece of the expanding distributed energy jigsaw, writes Jonathan Spencer Jones, contributing editor to Engerati, the sister portal to Metering.com.

The UK has been a leader in developing community power and the extent of this is shown in Scotland, where in the past year community and individual initiatives have increased by more than 50%. [Scotland’s Private Power Up By 52%]

Forty community groups across Scotland are currently taking forward renewable energy projects. There is also growing interest in parts of the US and for example in Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric is proposing to gain experience with a pilot community solar project. [50 Home Community Solar Project To Pilot In Hawaii]

Another piece of the distributed energy jigsaw is consumer participation in markets.

The California ISO has taken the welcome step to allow small-scale resources such as rooftop PV, storage and electric vehicles, to participate in the wholesale market. Aggregators, either utilities or third parties, will need to bundle resources to meet the ISO’s minimum 0.5MW requirement. [California Rooftop Solar To Participate In Wholesale Market]

The US’s largest smart grid pilot, the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid demonstration, involving a dozen utilities in five northwest states, has recently concluded with an 840 page report offering important lessons for smart grid deployment. [Smart Technologies Can Improve Energy Efficiency And Possibly Reduce Power Costs]

Among the findings are that smart meters, automated control of power distribution and other intelligent energy technologies can improve energy efficiency and possibly reduce power costs. But they also point to the need for more research and development to support utility-led smart grid deployment.

In our series of exclusive interviews in the lead up to European Utility Week in November, Charles Delalonde, head of Digital Innovation at EDF Energy’s R&D UK Centre, encourages embracing the digital transformation

This will involve bringing on board the right skills, closer collaboration between the research and IT departments and involving startups and innovation. [Digital Transformation Calls For Skills Integration] “Instead of being worried about market transformation, it is a good time to reinvent ourselves. Utilities should explore the different markets that the Internet of Things and Big Data are creating,” he says.

We continue our Asian Utility Week interviews and among these Australia-based consultant David Prins, director of Etrog Consulting, talks about how utilities should go about deploying a successful smart meter programme. Above all this requires participants to understand what they are aiming to achieve and to take into account the agenda of customers. To this end customer engagement is vital. [ Utility and Customer Agendas Should Compliment Each Other ]

Read these and other stories on Engerati.