EnergyREV, upscaling smart local energy systems

Part of a wider project on how the UK can benefit from the renewables transition, we look at what makes smart minigrids grow and replicate by identifying development pathways in a new way.

Start date

01 December 2018

End date

31 March 2022

Project website



To help understand how smart local energy systems (SLES) can be part of a national energy transition, we have to understand what drives and what prevents ‘upscaling’, that is either the increase in scale or capabilities of an existing SLES or the replication of one system in other places, or both. ‘upscaling’ is seen as both unless specified differently.

What works well in one place may not be successful elsewhere, it may not work at the same scale, or a different scale, or may have a negative impact at a national scale. Unless we understand the dynamics and logic of upscaling and/or growth of SLES, these systems will remain few in number and their potential to contribute to the national transition towards a national low carbon energy system will remain untapped. The EnergyREV consortium and wider PFER network provides an opportunity to evaluate this.

How will EnergyREV deliver unique and useful insights?

Scaling up SLES projects in both size and in different locations is vital but to become reality, it has to be economically viable, socially desirable and environmentally acceptable. Stakeholders currently delivering SLES are focussed on delivering individual projects for individual clients successfully but this approach typically lacks the overview perspective to understand what is required for growth and replication.

Stakeholders who are interested in replicating projects are generally only interested in individual aspects of replicability such as regulation or a particular technology rather than the whole system.

EnergyREV will investigate SLES holistically using a broad framework. This will cover the EnergyREV themes of infrastructure, business and finance, policy and markets and users. These themes will help to capture the range of drivers and barriers in a structured way from different areas of expertise.

Case studies and the PFER demonstrators will be used to evaluate the themes.

Aims and objectives

Two different dimensions need to be investigated to make this assessment:

  1. What works: What drivers and barriers exist that prevent or support upscaling of local smart energy systems? There are two avenues that can be used to provide the answers:
    1. a substantial multidisciplinary review of the literature that leads to a conceptual model of what the drivers and barriers for upscaling are
    2. The PFER demonstrator projects (and others) and workshops with other stakeholders will be used to test the findings of the review work. These will have a special focus, to understand the technical issues and barriers, preventing grid upscaling
  2. Consequential impacts: a system may be very successful in one location at a contained size but it may be difficult to see it grow or its success may be too dependent on local factors preventing replication elsewhere with ease or success. So a deeper understanding how local SLES are established and what could be the unintended consequences of growth (and of replication elsewhere) are is essential.

Funding amount




Research themes

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