More information about Flex Community™

Click on the questions below to find out more information, if you don’t find the answer you can contact the team on [email protected]

What is Flex Community™?

Flex Community™ is a smart ecosystem which brings together all those involved with supplying and using electricity, including householders, energy technology manufacturers and installers and electricity grid operators. It is part of the EU funded ReDREAM project.

Which organisations are involved in running Flex Community™?

Flex Community™ has been developed by Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE), a community owned renewable energy company and Stemy Energy, a Spanish company developing digital technology to support the energy transition. Flex Community™ is also supported by Avalon Community Energy (ACE).

Why are we doing it?

We developed Flex Community™ to test how far we can shift the times that we consume electricity (our demand profile) to better match renewable electricity generation. This is a challenge we need to meet if we are to successfully transition to a more sustainable and greener way of generating and consuming energy.

What does the ‘Flex’ in Flex Community™ stand for?

This stands for flexibility, which in this case means the ability to modify demand profiles in response to an external signal from the electricity grid when this is required. In essence this means making small changes in how much electricity we use at certain times when this is required by the grid.

Why is flexibility needed?

We are in the middle of an energy transition from a small number of large, easily controllable fossil fuel generators to a high number of diverse, decentralised renewable energy generators that are more weather dependent and less easy to switch on/off or up/down to match demand. The successful transition to a zero-carbon grid will require householders to be more flexible in the way that they consume electricity

What does Flex Community™ actually do?

Flex Community™ uses innovative digital technology to make two things happen simultaneously:

  1. The Flex Community™ platform interacts with the electricity grid platform to offer flexibility when the grid requires it. This flexibility can either be a reduction of electricity demand when the grid is being heavily used or an increase of electricity demand at times when more renewable energy is available.
  2. Flex Community™ ‘connectors’ attached to energy technologies such as heat pumps, ev charge points and immersion heaters enable them to be turned off/on to meet these flexibility requests when needed.

Why should I get involved in Flex Community™?

Flex Community™ is a pioneering project, and we are seeking energy pioneers to get involved! We are exploring how different energy technologies can be used to help the transition to a zero-carbon electricity grid and we need householders willing to help us do this.

We are looking for people who already have, or want to install, a heat pump, electric vehicle charger or an immersion heater (as the primary source of heating water) and are prepared to let these be controlled by our digital technology to turn them off/on when the electricity grid requires it.

How much flexibility would I need to provide?

We are testing if very small changes by individual households can be aggregated together across many households, connected to the Flex Community platform, to have a significant collective impact. This is where the ’community’ aspect comes into it!

Would I have control over the amount of flexibility I provide?

Yes. Through an app you can pre-set limits for flexibility and can override the system when you need to.

 Do I receive anything for providing flexibility?

You will receive an annual payment of £50 (pro-rata if not a full year) from Flex Community™ for each eligible energy technology you offer to provide flexibility to the grid.

How would I get set up as a Flex Community™ participant?

An online Flex Community™ Portal has been developed through which you can:

  • Either arrange Installation of a no-cost ‘connector’ to link an existing compatible energy technology to the Flex Community™ platform to be able to respond to flexibility requests.
  • Or arrange installation of a new compatible energy technology plus a no-cost ‘connector’ to link it to the Flex Community™ platform to be able to respond to flexibility requests.

What would I need to do on the Portal?

Firstly, you would need to complete some short questionnaires to build your profile (e.g. electricity supply, property type, energy efficiency, existing technology installations, internet connection).

Then you would need to apply for the relevant Flex Community# Plan to either:

  • Install new energy technology (e.g. heat pump, ev charge post) plus the ‘connector’ that enables you to provide flexibility from it.
  • Install a ‘connector’ to enable your existing energy technology to provide flexibility.

How do I apply to get new energy technology installed?

You apply for the relevant Plan (e.g. heat pump Plan, ev charge post Plan) by completing a questionnaire. The information you provide here, together with your profile information, will enable Flex Community™ to decide if you are eligible for the Plan.

What are the reasons why I might not be eligible for a Plan?

  • You have some other energy technologies that prevent Flex Community from being effective (decided on a case-by-case basis),
  • You may already have some energy technology equipment that manages your electricity demand (e.g. a battery) that would mean you would not be a suitable candidate for the Flex Community.

What happens once I am accepted onto a Plan?

  • If you are eligible, Flex Community™ will assign installer(s) to you.
  • The assigned installer(s) will review your answers to the Plan questionnaire and your profile details before contacting you to discuss your requirements for the energy technology and to arrange an evaluation visit to your home.
  • Following the evaluation visit, the installer(s) will prepare quote(s) for the installation of the energy technology from which you will be able to select the one that meets your needs.
  • You will then liaise with the installer to arrange an installation date.
  • All contractual arrangements are between you and the installer and neither BWCE nor Stemy Energy is party to these.

Alongside the installation of your new heat pump or ev charge post we will arrange for either your chosen energy technology installer or our electrician to install the relevant ‘connector’ at no cost to you and take you through instructions on how to use the controller and the app.

Do I need to pay if I have new energy technology installed through Flex Community™?

You will need to pay for the installation of a heat pump or ev charge post. For financial support check out the boiler upgrade scheme and grant schemes for electric vehicle charging.

The ‘connector’ that enables the energy technology to provide flexibility is installed free of charge.

What if I already have energy technology installed?

You apply for the Flexibility Plan to have a free of charge ‘connector’ installed to enable your energy technology to communicate with the Stemy platform. To do this you will need to complete a questionnaire. The information you provide here, together with your profile information, will enable Flex Community to decide if you are eligible for the Plan.

What are the reasons why I might not be eligible for the Flexibility Plan?

  • The connector is not able to talk to your existing energy technology.
  • You have some other energy technologies that prevent Flex Community™ from being effective (decided on a case-by-case basis),
  • You may already have some energy technology equipment that manages your electricity demand (e.g. a battery) that would mean you would not be a suitable candidate for the Flex Community™.

What happens once I am accepted onto the Flexibility Plan?

We will arrange for our electrician to install the relevant ‘connector’ at no cost to you and take you through instructions on how to use the controller and the app.

Once all the necessary equipment is installed, how do I provide flexibility?

When everything is installed, you will be taken through a series of stages leading up to you providing flexibility

Stage 1:   A period of time when Flex Community™ builds up a profile of your usual electricity use with regard to the specific energy technology  (Manual Mode)

Stage 2:   A period of time when Flex Community™ optimises your use of the energy technology based on your preferences and other factors e.g. presence of solar pv or a Time of Use Tariff.   (Automatic Mode without Flex)

Stage 3:  A period of time when Flex Community™ simulates flexibility requests from the Distribution System Operator (DSO), the body responsible for distributing and managing electricity from the generation sources to the final consumers. In our area the DSO is Western Power Distribution (WPD) (Automatic Mode with Flex)

I’m interested, what do I do next?

Please complete the Expression of Interest.

Will I get a chance to find out more and ask questions?

Once you have completed the Expression of Interest you will be invited to an information session (face-to-face or online as appropriate). These are small and informal with ample opportunities to ask questions.

Do you have any further information to help me?

  • Our Energy Demand page provides useful background information for Flex Community.
  • Our sustainable energy information for households page has links to advice on energy efficiency and installing energy technologies.
  • Our events page has links to previous events around relevant topics such as energy demand, home retrofitting and heat pumps.