The digital revolution is reshaping our energy system. Intelligent, responsive and interlinked systems are increasingly vital in coping with the new reality of electrified transport and heating and intermittent renewable sources. Our power systems, our meters, and our homes are all getting smarter. In this digital age, community energy is distinctly analogue.
Carbon Co-op has been developing digital systems ever since its inception. Thanks to a grant from the Next Generation Community Energy fund we now have the capacity to build these services and systems into a new business model which could provide a boost to the sector nationwide.
This project is aimed at transforming Carbon Co-op into a digital-first energy services co-operative. It will consolidate work done in a series of past projects, bringing together our pioneering work in the fields of energy systems and retrofit. This will be a transformatory process, and as part of the project we will be considering issues of governance, organisational structure and ethics. Tech companies famously ‘move fast and break things’. We intend to be mindful of the rights and responsibilities of data-driven services as we move into this space: an energy data co-op with trust and accountability at its core.
To that end, we are drawing on advice, mentoring and research from some high-profile partners. Open Data Manchester will be advising us on data ethics and governance. Liverpool-based Shortwork will be helping us consider, evaluate and document our transformation, and we are very fortunate to have advice and mentoring from global tech consultants ThoughtWorks.
We see a potentially powerful role in the digital energy system for citizen co-operatives – prosumer rather than consumer co-operatives, providing and using services enabled by their own data. This project will take us a step along the road to that vision.
The Next Generation Community Energy fund is run by a consortium led by Power to Change, the organisation set up to grow and support community businesses in England. The fund is supporting a number of projects across the country aimed at building new models for the community energy sector after the withdrawal of the government’s Feed-in Tariff support mechanism for renewable energy.