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WPD Unveils Net Zero Communities Strategy

Working closely with local authorities and communities is key to delivering a net zero carbon future, and we have just launched our first Net Zero Communities Strategy. 

Wind turbine against blue sky and clouds

The strategy, which has been drawn up in partnership with Regen, is aimed at community and local energy organisations and sets out our commitment to work alongside groups like these to support their local climate and energy plans. 

We believe that a ‘bottom-up’ approach is vital to achieve the UK’s 2050 net zero goal. This means collaborating with communities to upgrade the network and ensuring communities have the support they need to connect more low carbon generation. 

The strategy builds on an extensive programme of ongoing community engagement, making our licence areas the most active areas of community engagement in England and Wales, involving 97 community organisations. 

We have already responded to feedback from communities by investing in resources for groups wishing to join the local energy market, launching new innovation projects and taking steps to combat fuel poverty

In the strategy, we outline our commitment to making new connections easier for community-generated energy projects, working with communities on more smart energy projects, and helping local groups access data to develop their own smart local energy systems. 

We have already launched the Carbon Tracer app which allows customers to see the generation mix of electricity at their postcode. 

To help local energy providers develop new business models, we have delivered several community energy projects, including Sunshine Tariff, which focused on locally generated power from solar farms in Cornwall; the Open LV project which shared data on local electricity use with local people by monitoring electricity flow at 80 substations; and Sola Bristol, which trialled solar panels, energy storage, and DC circuits in homes to test their impacts and cost-effectiveness. 

Current innovation project Future Flex aims to make flexibility services more accessible to domestic and community participants such as households with vehicle to grid technology, electricity storage or smart, hybrid heating. 

Alison Sleightholm, Resources and External Affairs Director, said: “As a distribution network operator, we are committed to accelerating net zero in communities across our four licence areas. We know that community energy organisations play a vital role in driving that transition and it is only by working with them that we can to reach the speed and scale necessary to meet net zero by 2050. 

“Community energy organisations help us to ensure our energy system is fair and does not leave behind the most vulnerable in our communities. To achieve a smarter and more flexible energy system for the future requires all of us in homes and businesses across the country to be on board.” 

The strategy has been drawn up following conversations with community and local energy stakeholders over the past seven years at over 40 events with 1,381 participants, along with feedback from consultations and online engagement. The strategy will help WPD to record its work, plan for the future and set measures for success as it works towards a net zero carbon future.

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