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Peer-to-peer energy supply. Is it working?

Guest - Monday April 04, 2016 8:00

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The National Trust is one of the global leaders in addressing climate change. Environmental shifts threaten everything the Trust protects: its land, its structures and most of all its heritage, as examined in its recent 2015 report “Forecast Changeable.” Keith Jones is the Trust’s Environmental Adviser, who strives to make the Trust as sustainable as possible. He devises and implements new efficiencies across the Trust and reports on his work at NTEnvironmentalWork.net. We’re pleased to be able to bring Keith’s work to The AngloFiles and examine the threats posed by climate change and the emerging practices the Trust is employing to combat it.

By Keith Jones, from March 29.

Local energy supply. We all sell the energy we generate for 5p and buy it for up to 15p per kwh. There has to be another way!

As some of you know from blogs a few years ago this has been one of our ‘holy grails’. Use what you generate locally but can anyone use it locally without the need for expensive private grids. The UK is on the cusp of a big change. There are trials galore happening trying differing models for energy supply, decentralized supply, buying locally, dealing with grid issues and the list goes on. The National Trust is coming to the end of the peer-to-peer to supply arrangement in the Open Utility trial.

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Interesting trial. 2.2 GWh have been produced in the last 12 months from the NT Snowdon hydro and 75% of this was supplied through the Open Utility trial to the Eden Project (through Good Energy) . We were interested in seeing if we could work through the peer-to-peer system, gain more benefit and be more open on the supply… what next? Watch this space!

We have been selling our Snowdon generated hydro energy mostly to the Eden project in the SW. But energy is more than KWh and here in lies the confusion.

It is so much more than electricity you are paying for in the average bill. we are trying to cut out some of the middle people or at least pass on more benefit.

It is so much more than electricity you are paying for in the average bill. we are trying to cut out some of the middle people or at least pass on more benefit.

In the trail have we made more income? (a little bit) Have we helped prove that you can supply others (knowing where your energy comes from?) Yes. Will is continue. Yes ish through Good Energy but we don’t know what shape it will take and also a lot of the detail. The ever-expanding list below is an example of what’s on the go and in development of energy supply trials. People want cheaper, local or cleaner and transparent energy supply which breaks the current centralised system. The energy market will be a different place in three years time but for now the pioneers are pushing at the boundaries.

…and the list goes on. Things are changing. People want control and to know how much, where, from whom they get their energy from and to retain more of the benefit for themselves or their organisation, company, authority or community. We are not as helpless as we once were.

I work better in flow diagrams. This is the Bethesda trail in a picture

I work better in flow diagrams. This is the Bethesda trail in a picture

Whats next for us? We are part of a group working through the new consortium of Cyd Ynni we helped set up. The OWLET project is one of the first end to end energy supply trails in the UK. The trail is centered around the large village of Bethesda in Snowdonia. We are working with (deep breath in) Energy Local, Cooperative Energy10:10, Partneriaeth Ogwen, Ynni Ogwen, Ynni Padarn Peris, Scottish Power Energy NetworksArloisi Gwynedd, Ynni Lleol, Welsh Government, Grwp Cynefin oh and with OFGEM and Elexon on basically what is a direct supply of energy through the existing grid by aggregating all of the consumers and the one generator (for now) into a single entity (a Community Energy Services Company, a type of clever energy club using smart meters to measure energy use vs energy generation).

This single entity needs a licensed supplier to balance and settle any additional supply or any export from the hydro and also to be the OFGEM licensed supplier, generate bills and so on. Coop Energy are doing a sterling job with us (this is all very new to all). The outcomes we hope for this first phase? Cheaper energy for the consumer (who are also a part owner of the CESCo) more income for the generator (hopefully encouraging more local projects) helping load shift (using power when its much cheaper – grid and generator).  Scottish Power (DNO) really interested in this par.  Proving to the regulator that we are all grown up enough to be trusted with our own energy supply if correctly structured. The spin offs from this project are immense. All of this data can drive efficient through optimizing white goods, load shifting to cheaper times of day, more info in real-time to the consumer and the list goes on and on. Let’s get this first phase in first this summer, but its exciting times!

To join the conversation and keep up with the latest from Keith, follow him on Twitter at @walesepa or read his blog at ntenvironmentalwork.net