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Can you make a village energy self sufficient?

Posted in: Green living

Posted on: 30.06.2016

The seven hundred residents of Fintry don’t have it easy when it comes to electricity.

The Scottish village has higher than average energy costs due to its location. Not only is it fairly remote, which means getting power to it is harder and so more costly, their days are shorter in winter (which means more lights, tumble driers and heating).

The housing stock is varied and many homes have storage heating and aren’t very energy efficient.

These are all present big challenges to a low-carbon grid – which makes it the perfect place for our next project.

SMART Fintry: local electricity for local people

The SMART Fintry project, funded through the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund, aims to test and prove a new way to purchase electricity that’s cheaper and greener. How?

It will do this by enabling the residents of Fintry to buy their power directly from nearby renewable energy generators – without the need to change supplier or add any additional cables or wires.

We’re working on the project with Fintry Development Trust (FDT), which was formed to help make Fintry a sustainable rural community. Since 2007, FDT have encouraged and helped hundreds of homes and businesses to install renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.

We’ve been designing community tariffs for a long time, so it makes sense for Good Energy to be the supplier for SMART at Fintry.

We’ll be offering a low-cost, local renewable energy tariff to the residents of the village, worked out through the virtual linkage of their energy consumption to the electricity produced by nearby renewable generators.

How will we link generation to demand?

While there are no technical reasons why electricity cannot be bought and sold at a local level there are at present several regulatory barriers – mostly based on the outdated assumption that the UK’s power will always come from a handful of big generators.

To circumvent these barriers, the project will virtuallybalance consumption with local generation; allowing people to see what they’re using, and what local sites are producing, and shows where their energy bills go.

Put simply, the SMART Fintry project will use meters to allow the users in Fintry to see what they’re using every half hour – then, we’ll put the user rather than generator in control of their supply source.

A new energy model for the UK

By adopting the rigid systems of the electricity grid but adapting them to work for the local community in Fintry, we can create a model that’s replicable across the UK.

SMART Fintry will show how local supply networks can work within the current infrastructure – reducing energy costs, and cutting carbon by making it easier for renewable generators to get onto the grid.

The project will nominally run until March 2018 – we’ll keep you updated!

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Parmjot Gill

Research and Innovation Project Analyst 

Read more stories by Parmjot Gill

Posted in: Green living

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