Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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Next steps for local and community energy in the UK - project development, commercialisation, infrastructure, and the contribution to a clean economic recovery

February 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This will examine developments in local energy and the policy surrounding it - including how local generation and supply fits into major wider developments in energy policy.

Areas for discussion include:

  • project development - examining policy, practicalities and best practice
  • energy infrastructure modernisation - discussing priorities for meeting the needs of local energy systems
  • commercialisation - looking at investment, partnerships and marketing strategies
  • regulation and policy - including the Local Electricity Bill, grants, public funding, incentives and community engagement
  • impact - the role of local energy systems in the national drive to net-zero and economic recovery

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from BEIS; Defra; DIT; the Department for Infrastructure, NI; the Department for the Economy, NI; the HSE; the NAO; the Office for Product Safety & Standards; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda:

  • Priorities for local and community energy projects - support, expansion, and policy to reduce barriers
  • Developing smart and local energy systems - latest progress on flagship projects across the UK
  • Overcoming commercial challenges for local projects - opportunities presented by the Local Electricity Bill, designing effective strategies, building partnerships, and updating the local supplier license regime
  • Community energy project development and the contribution to locally-led economic growth and recovery
    • Rolling out energy efficiency modernisation, overcoming physical installation challenges, and the impact of the Green Homes Grant
    • Best practice for supporting and investing in local and community energy projects in the UK
    • Scaling up public partnerships and the delivery of local clean capacity - supporting local developers, the supply of local power, and reducing consumer costs
  • Infrastructure that meets the needs of local energy systems - flexibility, adding distributed resources, and closer integration with local networks
  • Routes to market for community energy - reducing barriers, innovation in tariffs, and achieving competitive rates of return
  • Regulatory reform - options for a whole-systems approach that supports local and community engagement
  • Policy priorities for expanding local and community energy projects in the UK - market incentives, funding for innovative schemes, and supporting the local net-zero transition

Key areas for discussion:

Developing local and community energy projects

  • optimising support - setting level playing fields for local and community energy projects in the UK, reducing barriers to entry, and developing local energy technology and systems
  • growth - industry partnerships and supply chains, scheme design, developer and local authority engagement, and opportunities for locally-led projects to be the centre of the low-carbon agenda
  • reducing barriers to market entry - appropriate regulatory frameworks, addressing physical entry barriers, setting incentives for participation, and easing local energy sale and trading rights
  • project viability - addressing challenges for small-scale generation, technology policy, and ways to minimise costs and other burdens for community operations and support rollout
  • addressing financial barriers - tax regimes and grid connection charges, improving access to investment, and making business cases for project returns and bankability
  • growing the market:
    • stimulating demand for local energy projects - including creating new revenue and cost-saving opportunities for communities
    • industry engagement - including supporting local and regional supply chains
  • formulating local energy plans:
    • collaboration - best practice for cooperation between industry, local authorities and community groups
    • planning - the way forward for accelerating project consents for local areas

Supporting recovery at a regional and local level

  • the role in economic recovery - what is needed for local and community energy projects to become central to plans in their areas, and take advantage of expansion opportunities
  • local contribution to net-zero ambitions:
    • establishing achievable decarbonisation targets for 2050 that prioritise local supply and ownership
    • overcoming policy and economic challenges for local and regional leadership in clean technologies and decarbonisation
    • ensuring community energy groups enable the green economic recovery
  • linking local plans to wider priorities:
    • opportunities for local energy groups to support regional recovery priorities
    • measures for scaling up local participation for residential and large-scale energy delivery - including energy efficiency and power flexibility upgrades

Energy infrastructure modernisation

  • integration with the grid - what is needed to prepare the wider energy system for local and decentralised supplies of energy, and the influx of community groups accessing the network
  • a smart energy system - expanding connection to local and national networks, providing reliable and flexible clean supply, supporting smart marketplaces and the aggregation of local capacity
  • a whole-systems approach to local network optimisation - reducing barriers to residential energy and non-generation units like energy storage and electric vehicles, improving balancing capabilities, and latest thinking around peripheral energy integration, such as local heat supply
  • regulation - priorities for designing a code system that enables local and community energy:
    • removing barriers to grid connection
    • making relationships between community groups and suppliers easier
    • supporting the regionalisation of energy and creation of local energy markets and systems

A scan of relevant developments:

  • The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution:
    • the Government’s new policy drive centred around decarbonisation, including at a local level, with plans for a local hydrogen heating trial
    • the Community Energy England response - community energy has been ‘forgotten’ in the 10 Point Plan and ‘ignored’ in the Spending Review
  • the Local Electricity Bill - aiming to simplify provision of Right to Local Supply licenses, reduce regulatory and financial barriers, and support local generation and supply schemes
  • the Energy White Paper - which aims to support the decarbonisation of the energy system, and in part promote more innovation and competition in networks and in national and local energy markets
  • locally-targeted energy support schemes - like the £2bn Green Homes Grant and the £21m UKRI Local smart energy projects awards - with £300m to be allocated through Local Energy Hubs
  • the Smart Export Guarantee scheme - providing payment to small-scale generators and households connected to the grid for power exporters
  • Ofgem proposals to ‘turn your street green’, transforming local electricity networks - price control recommendations for distribution, and DNO coordination with local stakeholders on flexibility
  • the RIIO-2 framework for transmission - with questions around local energy grid connection, as lower equity allowances present operators challenges
  • the Energy Codes Review - ongoing and aimed at a framework setting for easier market participation, and reduced regulatory and financial barriers for small-scale and distributed resources
  • potential further energy market reform - following the recent Capacity Market consultation, with recommendations for reducing the minimum capacity threshold to 1MW, helping to widen the scope of technologies, and increase market engagement with smaller suppliers
  • economic recovery from COVID-19 - being planned to prioritise local and regional growth and harness the potential of innovative, low-carbon technologies like small-scale and distributed energy
  • the National Infrastructure Strategy - reaffirming commitments to energy system decarbonisation and investment in local infrastructure in England including £1.3bn to be invested in charging infrastructure to accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. A place has been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Lords, and officials from BEIS; Defra; the Department for International Trade; the Department for Infrastructure, NI; the Department for the Economy, NI; the Health & Safety Executive; the National Audit Office; the Office for Product Safety & Standards; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect further speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials in this area of public policy, together with other stakeholders concerned with developments in local energy policy, including energy companies along with their advisors and partners, local government and community groups, consumer bodies, climate and environment campaigners, technology and innovation platforms, academics and researchers, along with reporters from the national and trade press.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles