The Energy Transition

Our energy system is in the middle of a major transition as we respond to the unfolding climate emergency. We need to address both the generation and consumption of energy.

Whilst the predominant focus of BWCE has so far been on renewable generation, we are now turning more and more to the energy demand challenge.

The energy demand challenge

The energy demand challenge is as much about when we use energy as how much we use. There are big reasons why we urgently need to meet this challenge:

Renewable energy sources are intermittent (weather dependent) and cannot be guaranteed to meet demand, especially at peak times

Switching from oil or gas to electric transport and electric home heating will put more pressure on our electricity grid

The switch to renewables is creating a more decentralised energy system with many small, scattered generators. This makes it harder to turn generation up or down when required

Currently energy consumed in the evening peak is significantly more carbon intensive than other times of the day

We need to find better ways of managing energy demand in order to:

Reduce our reliance on fossil fuels

Avoid costly, resource intensive and environmentally unfriendly upgrades to our electricity transmission infrastructure

Realise our aspiration to develop local, community owned renewable generation projects directly meeting local need

How can we meet the energy demand challenge?

There are several potential solutions to the energy demand challenge but each of these have problems attached:

Behaviour change is important but how can we scale it up to realise the collective impact required by the climate emergency?

Battery storage will be needed but how far should we be extracting the natural resources it relies upon?

Pricing mechanisms (i.e. making electricity more expensive at peak times) may prompt people to change their patterns of energy use but will this work for everyone?

Smart technology can enable people to collectively shift their energy consumption patterns but can we overcome the technological and psychological barriers to widespread adoption?

At BWCE we do not believe that there is one single answer to the energy demand challenge. Instead, we aim to explore solutions which best integrate the different mechanisms to the greatest effect. And, crucially, we are committed to developing community owned and controlled solutions that bring real benefits to householders and local communities.

Our energy demand projects

Our Flex Community project with Stemy Energy is integrating electric home heating and electric vehicle charging with smart technology and a community approach to provide flexibility when the electricity grid requires demand to be turned up or down.

Read more

Our Solar Streets project tested the degree to which a collective community approach can be successful in meeting the energy demand challenge at a neighbourhood level through a combination of solar PV, battery storage and a simulated Time of Use electricity tariff exercise.

Read more

Our resources to help you take on the energy demand challenge

Our Community Fund supports community projects that improve energy efficiency and reduce energy demand in buildings and local communities.

We run events to share information and learning around various aspects of the energy demand challenge

We have a list of Energy Demand Resources to support households and communities to take on the energy demand challenge

More information on the energy transition

Western Power Distribution have produced a series of short videos to explain some of these issues.

Watch here

Ofgem have produced a short video and information on how to make our electricity system more flexible to better balance supply and demand.

Watch here

If you have the time this talk on ‘People and energy – a relationship in transition’ given by Louise Kingham, Chief Executive of the Energy Institute  at the University of Bath in November 2018 is a great introduction to how our energy system is changing.

Watch here