From 15 – 17 September the 5th RegEnergy project meeting took place virtually in Plymouth, England (due to the ongoing pandemic). More than 30 partners and friends of the project met this time to explore deep the issues of green electricity procurement, infrastructure problems and the creation and future of energy communities.
Fraser Durham of Argand Solutions presented the exciting local project of the Creacombe Solar Farm located close to Plymouth. The aim of Argand Solutions’ study is to optimally combine the rural green energy generation of the farm with the urban demand from Plymouth City Council buildings in Plymouth. A first result of the study showed that the energy generation and demand match up nicely in the summer months. However, a mismatch in peak demand/generation power was identified, which in turn raised the question of whether to invest in energy storage. However, as Fraser Durham pointed out, at this stage it is unfortunately not financially viable to rely on the savings and the benefits of balancing urban demand and rural production through a battery energy storage system.
Then John Green gave an insightful presentation about the procurement of green electricity from the point of view of a local authority. He presented options and discussed problems and possible solutions. Besides reducing consumption and improving the building fabric, a direct wire with a new construction, REGOs, a Contract for Difference or Green Gas, he presented the option of a sleeved Power Purchase Agreement. Here a generator enters into an agreement to supply electricity over the distribution network. This allows supporting a specific project, though not necessarily a new project.
Finally Alistair Macpherson (Plymouth Energy Community PEC) provided a very interesting update on community energy organisations and presented the general framework for setting up a community energy (CE) organisation. Usually a group of people with a will to change get together to realise a renewable energy project. The local authority took the lead in helping to set up a CE organisation, PEC, which is managed by the community. Its mission is to bring to bring local people and organisations together to tackle fuel poverty and the climate crisis as well as to increase local ownership. According to Alistair MacPherson, the recipe for success in the cooperation between a municipality and an energy community lies in a good relationship of trust. In Plymouth, this has been achieved, but this relationship must always be maintained.