- New global smart grid partnership launched to unlock local solutions to climate change
Watch the launch live from the UK Pavilion at COP26 via the UK Government’s official YouTube channel (2 November, 09:45-10:30).
Electricity distribution companies from the UK, Australia, Italy, and Japan have joined forces to revolutionise and support communities to engage with electricity grids of the future. Launching at COP26, the University of Oxford-led initiative will bring together electricity networks and community energy groups from across the world to remove barriers to delivering net zero at a local level.
Founding Partners Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution, Ausgrid and the Enel Foundation have joined with the University of Oxford to launch the International Community for Local Smart Grids (ICLSG). Key Project LEO partner, and leading UK community energy social enterprise, Low Carbon Hub is the founding community member of the ICLSG. This initiative will see community energy groups and electricity networks share key learnings from innovation projects, facilitate discussions around challenges and support a collaborative transition to a decarbonised future.
Electricity networks, and the shift to smart grids, will be fundamental in achieving a secure, cost-effective, net zero future, and in realising the ambitions of COP26. The first-of-its-kind five-year knowledge sharing partnership will explore the relationship between communities and how they engage with smart grids from Oxford to Rome, Sydney to Tokyo.
Chris Burchell, Managing Director of SSEN Distribution, said:
“Whilst project partners experience different climates and cultures, we are facing shared challenges and as we’ll see at COP26, the only way to tackle the climate emergency and take action is through collaboration.
“The International Community for Local Smart Grids will take the lessons we are each learning locally and share these globally and I’m incredibly excited to be working with Ausgrid and the Enel Foundation alongside other partners to deliver a truly innovative approach to help the communities we serve access their net zero futures.”
The partnership will be launched to a global audience at the UK Presidency Pavilion at COP26.
Community energy groups will have a critical role in the partnership, guiding and informing discussions to ensure the challenges and opportunities discussed reflect lived experience. The successful delivery of smart grids hinges on the ability of households and businesses to participate. The Low Carbon Hub, based in Oxford, will be joined by community energy participants, to be announced in 2022.
Japan’s TEPCO Power Grid is the first Network Partner to join the ICLSG, demonstrating the partnership is global in breadth and local in focus.
Realising global climate targets will require a fundamental shift in how homes are heated and cooled, how journeys are powered, and how communities interact with the energy system that serves them. The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has forecast that in the UK alone this will lead to a trebling of demand on electricity networks by 2050.
To support this shift electricity networks are investing and innovating to deliver smart grids to support households using, generating, and altering their energy usage to save money, reduce their carbon footprint and support energy system resilience.
Richard Gross, CEO of Ausgrid, said:
“We have joined the International Community for Local Smart Grids so we can collaborate with some of the best minds in the world to develop innovative, sustainable and affordable solutions for our customers.”
“It is clear that our climate is changing. We have more extreme weather events more often like the devastating 2020 bushfires. It’s up to us to work together to reach net zero as soon as possible.”
“At Ausgrid we’re privileged to service a pristine part of the world. From Sydney’s beautiful beaches through to the lush forests and farmlands in the Hunter Valley and Central Coast. Our goal as an organisation is to help ensure our children, and our children’s children can continue to enjoy this unique environment.”
Different locations are facing different challenges at different times; Ausgrid is currently investing in local batteries to support a significant increase in solar panels, whilst SSEN is exploring how to cost-effectively manage a rapid increase in electric vehicle ownership in densely populated cities. This partnership will facilitate the sharing of key learnings, whilst the University of Oxford will undertake original research into shared challenges and opportunities in delivering net zero locally.
Mr Antonio Cammisecra, Head of Enel Global Infrastructure and Networks said:
“Through Enel Foundation, founding partner of the International Community for Local Smart Grids initiative, the Enel Group is proud to share this vision with distinguished international players, collaborating with them and sharing industry and regulatory best practices. Strong cooperation will be essential to unlocking opportunities for communities and stakeholders who will play a more relevant role in the energy economy, in terms of innovative business models, services and shared value.”
Barbara Hammond MBE, CEO, Low Carbon Hub said:
“As we transition to a zero carbon energy system, the changes required will be as much about people and the way they interact with it as it is about technology. That’s why we need zero carbon energy systems that are not just digitally smart, but people smart too.
Grounding the network in the real world, working with real communities, is crucial to ensuring that we create an energy system that is fair. Fair in terms of who pays, who gets to benefit, and which ensures that no one is left behind.”
Professor Malcolm McCulloch, University of Oxford said:
SSEN Distribution, Ausgrid, Enel, Low Carbon Hub and the University of Oxford will participate at an event on the 2nd November at COP26 to announce the partnership, and explore its aims, ambitions and the role of communities and smart grids in enabling a net zero future.
Based on a press release from SSEN