Charles Bradshaw-Smith, Co-CEO of SmartKlub, chaired a lively debate on The Community Energy Revolution when the city of Nottingham showcased in Parliament the businesses, institutions and projects that have become a pivotal part of the city’s development. SmartKlub was invited to participate due to its partnering in a groundbreaking Community Energy project in Nottingham Trent Basin.
The panelists, Paul Brodrick (Siemens), Jo Gilbert (Robin Hood Energy), Nick Ebbs (Blueprint), Gavin Stokes (E.ON) and Prof. Mark Sumner (University of Nottingham), provided the chamber with diverse insights when questioned by the audience that included The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), OFGEM, energy companies and journalists.
To start, the panelists were asked to share their thoughts on the benefits of local, community led energy in the UK. Interestingly, Nick Ebbs raised that we have choice in most other walks of life, however, there is little choice from an outdated centralised energy system. It was unanimously agreed by the panel that community energy offers people and neighbourhoods self sufficiency, resilience and more affordable energy. Furthermore, Jo Gilbert, believes that there are opportunities to reduce fuel poverty and improve health in these programmes.
The panelists were asked their opinions on the importance of digitisation in helping community energy to flourish. It was agreed that having more information available would be welcomed by customers. Prof. Mark Sumner explained that it is important that we should be mindful of privacy but that this should not restrict the technology that can help give customers more information and improve energy behaviours.
When asked by the audience about the barriers to community-led energy projects, the panelists agreed that community engagement is one of the biggest challenges, with Gavin Stokes explaining that customers are at the heart of energy projects and without their commitment projects are unlikely to succeed. Another challenge, highlighted by Paul Brodrick, is the market setup. He believes that a more adaptable set of regulations, such as allowing residents to sell their excess energy to their neighbour, would be beneficial.
The panelists successfully made the case for community led, distributed energy projects, as well as acknowledging the challenges and barriers faced. The key conclusion was that it is closer collaboration between the supply chain and customers that will be essential to helping these projects succeed. With their success, there is opportunity for benefits to be felt in communities across social, economic and environmental dimensions.
This energy debate was one of 45 separate events delivered in Parliament throughout the day on the projects, communities and successes in Nottingham.
For more information visit: www.nottinghaminparliamentday.uk