Community energy projects can transform network with DNO support

Without support for clean, local energy solutions, the UK risks returning to business as usual and ignoring lessons from COVID-19 that could accelerate the net zero transition, according to Northern Powergrid’s Sustainability Manager.

Writing on, Anda Baumerte, also Northern Powergrid’s Community Energy Contact, explained that with DNO backing, community energy projects can transform the UK’s energy network and play a large part in achieving the net zero target. As well as providing over 160MW of clean power, community energy projects offer “immeasurable social, environmental, and economic benefits” which are needed now more than ever, said Baumerte. Furthermore, with DNOs uniquely placed to support them, the COVID-19 recovery represents a unique opportunity to harness these qualities.

With the majority of community energy projects not developed by energy professionals, or those familiar with the connections process, DNOs have an important responsibility to support them. DNOs can offer a number of resources – including information on where to find financial support, data, useful tools, or advice on how to build industry relationships – that can help community energy organisations to flourish. Baumerte cited how through Northern Powergrid’s own engagement, they had found most community energy organisations simply need advice on complex issues such as connections. Ensuring that they have a key point of contact to pose those questions was noted as being the simplest, most effective solution.

Supporting community energy projects through and beyond COVID-19 requires a doubling down of efforts, said Baumerte, stressing that a critical point has been reached. Baumerte said: “Community energy is not just an invaluable way to reach the most vulnerable in society, it is also critical to our transition to distribution system operators (DSOs) and, importantly, to achieving net-zero carbon emissions for the UK. Ultimately, only by working together with our communities, can we deliver the best possible outcomes for all our customers.”