Investigating the investability of local energy businesses

Investigating the investability of local energy businesses

Dr Fabian Fuentes Gonzalez - Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh

13th July 2021

More than 60 researchers from 22 Universities are working together to tackle the challenges around smart and local energy systems from an interdisciplinary and whole-systems viewpoint which is providing an unprecedented breadth of expertise and depth of knowledge.

Through its multidisciplinarity, built in from the start, as well as through its strong links to the wider local energy community, EnergyREV is becoming one of the most significant international academic programmes delivering research to accelerate the uptake, value, and impact of smart and local energy systems.

The Business and Finance Research Team’s investigation

The EnergyREV business and finance research team are investigating the investability of local energy businesses, especially those aiming to integrate heat, power, storage, and mobility services. We are looking to work with a few case study businesses to investigate how further investment can be secured. We plan to address the following:

  • Governance; we want to know who participates in the business, how decisions are made, and what processes are in place to support operations and business development.
  • Finance; we want to understand sources and uses of finance, particularly the composition of cash flows and their influence on business performance; we also want to evaluate the use of information about cash flows as a means to measure the economic value of such businesses.


Why are we doing this investigation?

As part of the worldwide commitment to tackle climate change, the UK Government has set demanding targets to achieve a Net Zero emissions future. Smart and local energy businesses can help achieve these targets. We need to understand how to develop such businesses, which includes answering questions about the case for investment, to help consolidate their viability in the GB and wider markets.

Understanding the governance and financial aspects of local energy businesses can provide valuable information to help answer these questions. Business governance and finance are interrelated; governance influences the management of financial resources. By examining cash flows we can understand how financial resources are managed, what is important in terms of income and outgoings, and how to secure additional investment.

How can you help?

We are looking to work with 2-3 case study businesses involved in smart and local energy projects. Business information on governance and finance, including funding received and spent, asset investments, contractual obligations, income and outgoings, will then support our research. The engagement will involve:

  • An introductory meeting with representatives from the company to discuss the information that could be provided, as well as our work plan based on such provision of information.
  • One or two meetings about the insights, derived from our research, into devising the case for investment in integrated local energy businesses.
  • A ‘wrap up’ meeting to discuss draft documents for wider circulation and publication.

Between scheduled meetings, communication will be by email; this will be minimised to avoid unnecessary demands. Additional meetings can be arranged at the request of business participants.

What will you get out of working with us?

We aim to provide useful insights to help devise the case for investment in integrated local energy businesses. We will provide a report on the following topics:

1. A decision-making process for investing in integrated local energy businesses or systems, including a simple description of the main stages;

2. The main actors needed in the process, including a brief description of their roles.

3. Hotspots in investment decision-making:

a. Quantitative and qualitative business indicators;

b. Financing support available (private, public, partnerships, etc.), including pathways to help secure cash flows;

c. Communication, transparency, and disclosure before, during, and after investments;

4. Pathways to the assessment of company value in a sector where innovation and change create multiple interacting sources of uncertainty.

Insights from our research will be presented mainly via webinars to help support development of businesses in the local energy sector. Businesses such as those involved in the PFER demonstrators can benefit from this research as follows: access to comparative financial and managerial information, which can help to adjust operating strategy and improve business performance; identification of key influences over investment outcomes, and actions to facilitate new investment; access to information to create benchmarks and metrics for business management and/or sectoral development. All of these elements can support growth of an integrated local energy business sector.

Use of information

Sensitive information about governance, organisations or finance will be not be published unless explicitly permitted. In comparative analyses of governance and finance, we will use pseudonyms to distinguish between projects, unless contributors wish to have the project identified.

All information will be stored in the University of Edinburgh’s secure IT systems following the University’s guidance and policies [1] and will not be distributed to others.


We really hope that you can see the benefit of our work. Please contact Dr Fabian Fuentes Gonzalez –

[1] Working with sensitive data – Available at