The practice and potential of renewable energy localisation: Results from a UK field trial
© 2018 by the author. The adaptation of electricity demand to match the non-despatchable nature of renewable generation is one of the key challenges of the energy transition. We describe a UK field trial in 48 homes of an approach to this problem aimed at directly matching local supply and demand. This combined a community-based business model with social engagement and demand response technology employing both thermal and electrical energy storage. A proportion of these homes (14) were equipped with rooftop photovoltaics (PV) amounting to a total of 45 kWp; the business model enabled the remaining 34 homes to consume the electricity exported from the PV-equipped dwellings at a favourably low tariff in the context of a time-of-day tariff scheme. We report on the useful financial return achieved by all participants, their overall experience of the trial, and the proportion of local generation consumed locally. The energy storage devices were controlled, with user oversight, to respond automatically to signals indicating the availability of low cost electricity either from the photovoltaics or the time of day grid tariff. A substantial response was observed in the resulting demand profile from these controls, less so from demand scheduling methods which required regular user configuration. Finally results are reported from a follow-up fully commercial implementation of the concept showing the viability of the business model. We conclude that the sustainability of the transition to renewable energy can be strengthened with a community-oriented approach as demonstrated in the trial that supports users through technological change and improves return on investment by matching local generation and consumption.