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Smart Local Energy Systems: social, technical and operational aspects

HOST: The Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy, University of Oxford

DATE: 8 June 2020

TIME: 11.00 – 12.00

VENUE: Online

SPEAKERS: Sarah Darby, Scot Wheeler, Mel Bryce

This is a recording of the webinar: Smart Local Energy Systems: social, technical and operational aspects from the Oxford Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy

In this webinar, Sarah Darby, Scot Wheeler, and Melanie Bryce talked about their ongoing work in Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO). Helen Gavin was the host.

Project LEO is considered to be one of the most ambitious, wide-ranging, innovative, and holistic smart grid trials ever conducted in the UK.

This demonstrator project is focused on Oxfordshire because of high levels of community support for low-carbon energy in the county and because the local electricity network is constrained. Traditionally, expensive network reinforcement would be needed to satisfy extra demand and enable more renewable generators to connect to the grid. One of the Project LEO goals therefore is to assess if ‘smart’ technology, demand flexibility and storage, could result in cheaper and socially-workable solutions. The findings will be applicable to other areas of the country.

Mel talked about operational aspects, from the perspective of the local electricity network owner, SSEN, and set out the vision for the electricity system of the future. She outlined the active trials that are happening within the project and the partners involved.

Scot focused on the technical aspects of some of the trials, including monitoring of an early trial where flexibility was provided by a battery located at one of Oxford Bus Company’s depots. He set out the conceptual underpinning of the ‘lean ecosystem transition’ and the use of ‘minimum viable systems’ (MVS) that can help test some instead and scale them rapidly.

Sarah focused on the social aspects of the project, in particular the demand for energy and how to make this more flexible. This depends on engagement and good relationships between people, as well as well-designed tech interfaces, to ensure no-one is left behind.

After the presentations, there was a Q&A session (at 36:45) where audience questions were answered by the speakers.

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