Saturday, 18 April 2015

Renewable Energy Marketplace >> RegenSW @ Westpoint >> Tuesday 21st April >>

The RegenSW organisation which helps advise communities and businesses on clean energy schemes has been in the news quite a bit of late:
Futures Forum: Climate change and housing: "We need to massively reduce energy requirements and generate low carbon energy"
Futures Forum: “There will definitely be a slowdown in the renewable energy sector in the South West. It may, however, drive innovation for new approaches and energy solutions.

The SidEnergy community energy group will be attending RegenSW's event next Tuesday:
Futures Forum: SidEnergy >>> 'We need roofs' >>> solar panel installation

Renewable Energy Marketplace

The south west’s biggest energy event

21 April 2015, 10am – 4pm

Westpoint Arena, Exeter

Attend the exhibition for only £18

Attend a leading conference with individual session prices starting at £54

Everything you need to know about renewable energy, energy efficiency measures and generation.

The Director of RegenSW penned this piece for the Western Daily Press earlier this week:

Investment needed to benefit from our renewable energy

By Western Daily Press | Posted: April 15, 2015

Growth in renewables has left the electricity grid at capacity in the West. Merlin Hyman the chief executive of Regen South West says investment is vital

We are in the midst of a revolution in our energy system. Large central power stations are being replaced by decentralised renewable energy. Farmers, businesses, communities and households are seizing the opportunity to use our excellent local natural energy resources to generate their own energy.

The West has taken a lead in this renewables revolution. Renewable energy now supplies around 20 per cent of electricity demand in Devon and Cornwall – generating hundreds of millions of pounds of revenue back into the local economy, making us less reliant on uncertain overseas sources of energy and creating thousands of jobs. The annual Renewable Energy Marketplace event, taking place on April 21 at Westpoint near Exeter, attracts thousands of businesses, landowners and householders who want to cut energy costs and generate their own energy.

The scale of interest in renewables has left our electricity grid struggling to keep up. The grid was designed to carry power from large generating stations to our homes and businesses – not for power to come back up the other way. Western Power Distribution, the company that runs the local grid network, has seen a huge increase in distributed generation in recent years with over 100,000 installations. This has led to constraints on the network – in particular on a major route from Bridgwater up to Bristol Docks. Western Power has now announced any new projects connecting to the grid, that don't already have a connection offer, will see long delays.

The creaking electricity grid does not mean a halt to renewable energy. However, if we are to make the most of the potential of renewables to provide secure and sustainable energy for the West there is no doubt we need to invest in the electricity grid. The region has been successful recently in convincing the Government of the need to invest in our rail network, recognising this is critical infrastructure and no one doubts that we need to roll out faster broadband to enable our businesses to compete. Regen SW is working with partners to lobby the Government and the regulator, Ofgem, to take the same strategic approach to our electricity grid.

Rather than waiting for the electricity grid to "fill up" and then considering what to do, we believe Ofgem should be enabling Western Power Distribution to invest in re-inforcement in areas where demand for renewables is strong to enable new generation projects to connect to the grid and sell the power they produce.

As we approach the election we will be asking parliamentary candidates to pledge their support for investment in the electricity grid as part of the infrastructure the West needs to compete to secure what we calculate could be £10billion pounds of investment in renewables over the next parliament – if the right policies are in place.

Alongside this investment in the grid we also need to develop smarter ways of using and distributing electricity. Solar power, for example, generates most during the middle of the day in the summer when our electricity demand is relatively low. One obvious solution is to store this power and release in it in the evening. There is huge investment globally in new storage technologies and there are trials in the West of different approaches to storing power. With some thought we might also be able to shift some of the demand from businesses and households to the middle of the day to better match the times when we have plenty of local generation.

The development of local community energy organisations is also key to these smarter approaches to generating, supplying and using power.

Regen supports a network of over 200 such groups and it is encouraging to see how quickly they are developing.

A transformation of our energy system of the scale we are currently seeing was never going to be easy. I am confident that the local businesses and communities leading the renewables revolution will respond to challenges of the limits of the electricity grid with innovative approaches.

However, for the West to secure a potential £10 billion investment prize in renewables local commitment needs to be matched with a shift in the approach by government and the regulator.

Investment needed to benefit from our renewable energy | Western Daily Press
Call to invest in electricity infrastructure in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset | Western Morning News

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