Energy Local Totnes

ENERGY LOCAL TOTNES

THE FACTS AND FIGURES

What: Energy Local Totnes; a club for buying and selling locally generated renewable electricity at a fair price
Where: Within the Totnes Substation
Why we love it: A chance for local residents and businesses to buy green local energy at low cost
Total installed capacity: Est. 400 kWh
Average annual generation: Est. 400,000 kWh
CO2 equivalent per year*: 120 tonnes
Est. annual Income to TRESOC: 2% share
Status: £25,000 grant received March 2022 to scope out the project, from Team Devon’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Business Prospectus Funding. £120,000 grant received September 2023 to develop the club in the consumer market, from the Energy Saving Trust’s Redress Scheme.


What

Energy Local Totnes is a club for buying and selling locally generated renewable electricity at a fair price, saving customers money off their bills, and paying small local renewable generators a little bit more for their excess generation.

Our modelling suggests that the average household – ie, a 2-3 bedroom house with average electricity consumption – will save 10% off their bill. But if they are able to shift the times of their demand and use the electricity when it is generated, then they could save up to 30%.

 

Who

In 2022, Totnes Renewable Energy Society (TRESOC) received a grant from Devon County Council’s Post Covid Economic Recovery Fund to start the club. TRESOC worked in collaboration with Energy Local CIC, 100Green (Formerly Green Energy UK), Totnes Town Council and Transition Town Totnes. Energy Local CIC have previously established 8 other Energy Local clubs across England and Wales. TRESOC have recently been awarded a REDRESS grant from the Energy Saving Trust (EST), to further develop Energy Local Totnes (ELT) over the next 2 years.

 

Area Covered by Energy Local Totnes

 

 

 

Why

A key aim of the project is to keep the economic benefits of renewable energy within the local economy and provide residents and small-scale generators with some protection from fluctuating external markets. However, the long-term aim is to be able to lift local people out of fuel poverty by providing low-cost electricity. The first year of the project will be a trial to ensure that we can actually reduce people bills, and then we hope to invite people on low incomes to take part.

 

How

TRESOC are starting the club with the renewable electricity generated by the 15kW solar PV array on the Totnes Civic Hall. These panels are owned jointly by Totnes Town Council and Transition Town Totnes.

The green electricity will be sold to 100Green, who then sell it to Energy Local Totnes. Because it is being sold locally, within the Totnes Substation, it can be sold at a cheaper rate.

To take part in the club as a generator or a consumer, participants need to be within the Totnes Substation. This is larger than it sounds, and includes Totnes, Dartington, Ashsprington, Littlehempston, Harberton, Harbertonford and Halwell.

Households and small businesses are able to become members.

 

When

The club will go live in October 2023, when 8 households will be switched onto the Energy Local Totnes tariff with 100Green. It takes about 3 weeks for the full switch to take place.

Initially the club will start small, as the number of customers must be balanced by the amount of generation, but it will continue to grow as new generators join. Harrison’s Garage on the Totnes Industrial Estate will be the next generator to join the club, selling the excess electricity from their newly installed 30kW solar array. TRESOC have a planned pipeline of community-owned rooftop solar PV projects, that once installed will sell their electricity into the club. In March 2024, it is hoped that Totnes Weir Hydro will join the club: this will increase the potential size of the club – and the savings to be made – exponentially!

 

Interested in taking part?

Local people who want to buy their electricity from ELT need first to sign up or register their interest through the Energy Local website, then they will be instructed in how to switch their energy supply company to 100Green, and onto the Energy Local Totnes Tariff. To join the ELT club, you will need to be within the Totnes Substation and have – or be happy to have – a smart meter fitted. If you are interested in joining the club, please register your interest on the Totnes club page of the Energy Local CIC website.

 

Energy Plus Model

Energy Local have established several similar projects across England and Wales. This wil be the first that will continue to grow, as new generators and customers join, continuing to support the growth of community renewable energy, while reducing peoples’ bills and greening the local economy. This new business model is called Energy Local Plus or EL+.

Once this new business model has been demonstrated in Totnes, it will spread to other places and has the potential to catalyse some real systemic change, making the energy system more equitable as we transition to a green economy.

 

Benefits of Selling Energy Locally

Buying and selling renewable energy locally has many economic, social, and environmental benefits:

· The community benefits from buying energy more affordably, helping to reduce fuel poverty

· Small local generators receive a decent export rate for their excess energy and more control over pricing

· Profits are retained by the local community, supporting the local economy

· Fairer export prices mean more local renewable energy projects become commercially viable for households, communities, and businesses, which acts as an economic driver for more renewable energy development and a gradual greening of the local economy

· Local renewable energy resources make the community more energy secure, self-reliant, and resilient, as energy prices are decoupled from volatile international markets

· The environment benefits as consumers reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions

· Buying renewable energy from local places make consumers feel more connected to energy supplies and fosters energy responsibility

· Balancing local supply with demand helps the national grid reduce the need for costly network upgrades

· Less electricity is wasted through transmission losses, as the distance from supplier to customer is shorter

 

Developing ELT

A Redress Energy Grant from the Energy Saving Trust (EST) will support the growth of ELT in the local domestic market, including member education on shifting energy demand and energy use, evaluation of the Energy Local Plus model, knowledge dissemination, and the replication of the model. The University of Plymouth will independently review the business model and its replicability.

ELT objectives are as follows:

· To develop Energy Local Totnes by signing up 400kW of locally generated renewable electricity into the club (25% new generation) balanced by 200 plus households in the first 2 years

· To save household members between 10 – 30% off their energy bills and to reduce their carbon emissions by a target of 30% (the amount of carbon savings will be dictated by the energy mix of their previous supply company. If their previous energy company supplied 100% green electricity, then the savings would be smaller)

· To engage all 200 household members in workshops on energy consumption reduction and demand shifting to maximise the use of local renewable electricity

· To investigate the benefits and viability of using storage within a club – especially with predominantly solar generation – and its role in managing network constraints to help install more generation

· To evaluate the financial, environmental, and social viability of a local renewable energy market, using the Energy Local Plus model (EL+). This will cover the direct economic savings and carbon emissions of the households in the ELT club based on their use over the course of a year and their previous tariff and supply company. This research and evaluation will be directed by Professor Ian Bailey, University of Plymouth, and carried out by a master’s student on the Sustainable Environmental Management MSc

· To share the Energy Local Plus model nationally with other community energy organisations through knowledge dissemination: improving the Energy Local website and materials; a 4-minute video; a case study PDF; events and workshops

· To replicate the model by training 10 more Energy Local advisors and establishing, to the point of operation and including incorporation, 2 new EL clubs (in addition to ELT)

· To engage the next generation in community-scale energy through pre-school and primary school renewable energy education programmes

· To examine the potential for EL+ clubs to provide additional income streams for people on low incomes who have had solar PV installed as part of the ECO Grant scheme

Clay Park Solar PV

CLAY PARK

Project Update

TRESOC has created this video to explain and reflect on our role within the Clay Park project collaborating with Transition Homes CLT.
We’re grateful to the Rural Community Energy Fund for their support in helping us investigate and develop the Clay Park project. Their grant allowed us to showcase a new business model where a community energy company and a local housing developer could generate low-cost green electricity for affordable housing.

Although our involvement with the Clay Park project is coming to an end, we remain committed to developing the microgrid model through our Energy Local Totnes project. We hope our work will inspire other community energy groups to plan their own microgrids and help transition to an equitable low-carbon future.

THE FACTS AND FIGURES

Who: Transition Homes Community Land Trust (THCLT)
Where: Clay Lane, Dartington
Why we love it: Providing low cost energy to people in a unique housing development built to meet local housing need
What: 720 roof-mounted solar PV panels – 180 kWh total
Average annual generation: 180,000 kWh of electricity per year
CO2 equivalent per year*: Reduces CO2 emissions by about 45 tonnes per year
Status: 2nd grant from Rural Community Energy Fund received to take project to point of raising share capital

Original Project Roadmap

TRESOC have been invited by Transition Homes Community Land Trust to own, install and operate 180kW of solar PV on their Clay Park Eco-Housing Development. TRESOC will become the energy supplier for the mini-grid providing the site with 100% green electricity. In 2019 we received a grant from the Rural Community Energy Fund for £88,000 to enable us to do the development work to bring the project forward. The development work determined that the economic case for TRESOC’s involvement was sound, and enabled us to design a system that maximises the use of the onsite solar, using batteries and electric car charge points. We also proposed a monitoring system to show TRESOC when the solar electricity is being used versus the mains electricity. We undertook an extensive community engagement programme  throughout the summer of 2020 – some of it online due to the Covid 19 pandemic – and provided educational projects for Totnes Schools KEVIC and the Grove.

In 2021 we received a Stage 2 Development Grant from RCEF for £79,000. This will pay for the technical, legal, financial and community engagement work needed to take the project to the point of being finance ready. Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager for the SW Energy Hub, said: “Innovative projects such as this prove how much community initiatives can achieve in the energy space and the vital role projects like these play in the transition to net zero.”

The grant will help us demonstrate an economically viable community business model for providing solar PV on housing estates that can be shared with other community energy groups, and the energy sector more widely. Part of the grant is specifically for knowledge sharing and dissemination, and TRESOC have waived any intellectual property rights. TRESOC are a member of the Devon Community Energy Network and has encouraged the establishment of a microgrids working group to facilitate this knowledge sharing. There are several local community energy groups exploring microgrids, who will be able to share the Clay Park legal and technical templates, greatly reducing their own development costs.

Once the scheme is investment ready, TRESOC will release a community share-offer to finance it. Please sign up to the Friends of TRESOC mailing list for updates, by emailing admin@tresoc.co.uk.