Alastair Martin chief strategy officer of Flexitricity: Shaping a sustainable, fair and competitive energy market for the future is a major challenge for both Scottish and UK Governments. Technology outpaces policy; our needs and capabilities are changing as fast as in the era of electrification. Yet the ghost of fuel poverty stubbornly refuses to be slain. Community energy changes the game. We’ve already seen how this can work – Aberdeen, Gateshead and Nottingham all have publicly-owned community energy schemes based around heat networks. Community schemes can find synergy between different energy uses and generation capabilities. One site’s cooling problem is another’s heating opportunity. A solar farm might be held back by network constraints just when it’s sunniest, but not if there’s a local vehicle charging station ready to soak up the excess. Community energy doesn’t just diversify the energy mix; it can actually make money for the consumer. Better yet, community energy means community engagement. Creating a challenger supplier is a lot cheaper than nationalisation, and it’s more likely to have the desired effect of forcing established suppliers to improve their game. But by supporting community energy, SturgeonPower could transform the dynamics of the Scottish energy system. Communities are diverse. Some are ideal for heat networks; some are located close to renewable resources. Some have energy-hungry industry nearby, while others are centres of commerce. We’d like to see the new business supporting a decentralised network of community energy assets of all types, underpinned by full use of smart grid technology to ensure these assets are used to maximum efficiency. It’d be big, bold and unprecedented – but the time for timidity is over. Energy is transforming anyway. By getting into the heart of that change and directing it towards communities, the First Minister can achieve her goal of protecting vulnerable people, and at the same time make energy work for everyone.
Energy Voice 16th Oct 2017 read more »