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Tyndall Manchester

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New research published on the UK's smart and local energy business sector

25 February 2021

The study suggests how energy businesses could better utilise smart systems and key aspects of localism, to decentralise and decarbonise the sector

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Local and decentralised energy initiatives increasingly contribute to decarbonising energy systems. A new paper published by Drs Maria Sharmina and Dimitrios Pappas, together with colleagues at the Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde highlights that the UK's local energy business sector consists of diverse projects and organisations. The emergence of new actors, ownership modes, business practices, and value sources in energy markets, facilitates this trend. The study anticipates a “forthcoming wave” of local, smarter UK energy businesses, encompassing a rich mix of organisations. New, less-experienced entrants, such as universities, third-sector organisations and local authorities address digitalisation elements, consumer engagement, prosumerism, and supply chain innovation.  More established private sector businesses are also playing a role, but there are new actors alongside large-scale utility companies, even in the commercial sector.

However, there is no systematic account of the businesses that comprise this emerging sector in the UK. There are no standardised criteria for what may constitute a “local”, potentially “smart”, sector. The research provides a first characterisation of the UK's local energy business sector through the development and descriptive statistical analysis of a database of legally-constituted energy businesses. The necessary qualitative indicators are developed, to categorise businesses according to their position in a matrix showing degrees of “localism” and “smartness”.

Read the full paper:

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