Beyond the pilots, a diverse world of local energy system pioneers exist across the UK

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Providing evidence to overcome challenges associated with scaling up local energy systems to stimulate market uptake.

The Asterix cartoon books always famously began with the statement that “Gaul is entirely occupied by the Romans… Well, not entirely. One small village still holds out…”

Sometimes, the world of smart local energy systems (SLES) in the UK feel a little like that. The ‘villages’ of pilot projects, exploring how to create multi-vector energy systems at local scale, are surrounded by the UK’s famously centralised energy system which operates at a national scale and with markets and regulation of different energy vectors (e.g. heat, power, mobility) kept strictly separate. While – unlike in Asterix – the experimental pilots and demonstrators are funded and approved by the authorities, and are understandably the focus of much research activity, they are still sometimes seen as isolated and very different from the world beyond.

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Written by Tim Braunholtz-Speight, Research Associate, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester

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