Early Insights into System Impacts of Smart Local Energy Systems

Tim Green and Marco Aunedi

May 2020

SLES could help cut the cost of national decarbonisation as they unlock the potential for decentralised flexibility. This is in addition to their important role in delivering on the energy and sustainability of local communities. This Briefing Note and Report assess the value to the whole energy system of SLES in the context of the transition to a low-carbon energy system.

They focus on the benefits of local flexibility resources that might be unlocked by SLES, including small-scale demand response from electric vehicles, heat pumps and smart domestic appliances, and highly distributed battery storage. These assets can offer both localised benefits and grid services to the national energy system. System benefits of SLES were evaluated using Imperial’s whole-system model for 2030 with a100gCO2/kWh emissions intensity and 2040 with 25gCO2/kWh.

The two main findings are:

  • The flexibility introduced by SLES can enable savings in distribution network and generation infrastructure. The savings are greater for large uptakes, and larger as carbon emission limits reduce. Savings of up to 19% of annualised system cost were found.
  • The flexibility is predicated on SLES offering demand flexibility and local storage as a service to help operate a national system with large volumes of variable renewable generation.

Tags: Model; scenarios; EVs; costs; DSR; demand side; carbon; flexible; electrification; heating; transport; technologies