A small group of Bioregional staff and partners recently visited Denmark to learn about their district heating schemes. Matt Wood, Energy Innovation Manager, shares how the UK could learn a lot from our Scandinavian friends
Community energy groups in the UK have had great success over the last few years. Groups including Bristol Energy Co-op, Low Carbon Hub and Repowering London have raised millions of pounds to invest in a low-carbon future by saving energy and investing in renewable energy sources for Britain’s homes.
These groups also often provide local people with much-needed energy advice and access to energy-efficiency schemes to tackle problems such as fuel poverty and cold, draughty houses.
But a lack of resource and the sheer scale of data to manage makes it hard to access new pots of funding or energy-efficiency schemes. Bioregional developed two projects to help empower community energy groups to deliver their vital projects more effectively.
Bioregional teamed up with SpiralEdge, a web development company, and secured funding from Nesta to develop Community Energy Manager. This free online tool is designed to help community groups manage their data effectively.
For example, a group may want to record data from householders in its local area about household energy-efficiency measures. Community Energy Manager can be used to efficiently store, aggregate and map this data and identify trends, opportunities and key areas in their neighbourhood with common issues.
This simplified output can then be used for groups to develop their own energy schemes or engage with larger schemes run by a local authority or energy company.
Several groups have used the platform to support projects of varying scales on the ground.
Working with several partners, Bioregional won funding from Innovate UK to develop a solution to the challenges of tackling urban retrofit in the UK.
We urgently need to make our homes more energy efficient. Yet retrofitting homes in towns and cities has proved difficult due to a lack of adequate, up-to-date information about which homes could benefit most from particular retrofit measures.
Bioregional, Oxford Brookes University, Cherwell District Council and Future Cities Catapult used two existing data-driven models– Oxford Brookes University’s Geographic Information System based DECoRuM model and Bioregional’s Community Energy Manager – to create LEMUR.
These two models combine estimates of energy-related carbon emissions (at a street, suburb or city level) with social information collected by Community Energy Manager. LEMUR takes this integrated data to provide a service that helps design targeted retrofit programmes that will work for a specific local area.
We are currently using LEMUR in Oxfordshire as part of the ERDF funded project Oxfutures.