UCL Energy Institute


Charlotte Johnson wins grant for community energy research

24 June 2020

UCL Energy Institute Senior Research Fellow Charlotte Johnson has been awarded an early career researcher grant from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS).

Photo shows a row of terraced houses

The project ‘Social entrepreneurship at the grid edge’ will explore how community groups can generate value through an energy system that is becoming more flexible and distributed. The project focuses specifically on demand side response and collective self-consumption opportunities. 

Drawing on critical infrastructure studies and place-based entrepreneurship theory it will provide an evidence base of how community groups are responding to such opportunities appearing ‘at the grid edge’ and co-produce a toolkit to support more groups engaging.

The project team will carry out a comparison of two national contexts; the Netherlands where there is regulatory support for community-led innovation and the UK where there is less support. The team will also work with diverse community groups in Newham to co-design collective self-consumption projects that contribute to Newham’s climate strategy and generate local value. 

Dr Charlotte Johnson will work with a team of early career researchers: Alexandra Schneiders (UCL Energy Institute), leading on policy and regulation, Dr Anna Rebmann (Kings College Business School) and Dr Emma Folmer (University of Groningen) who provide social entrepreneurship expertise and Dr Ester Van der Waal (University of Groningen) leading social research on community energy in the Netherlands. 

A steering committee of stakeholders and academics will support the project; UK Power Networks, Carbon Coop, Power2Change, Newham Council, Dr Sarah Darby (University of Oxford), Prof Sarah Bell (UCL IEDE), Prof David Shipworth (UCL Energy Institute) and Dr Anne Beaulieu (University of Groningen).

The project will start in September 2020.

Dr Giulia Privitera of project partner UK Power Networks said:

It is hugely important to us to make sure that nobody is left behind in the energy transition. This project will help us learn more about domestic customers’ understanding of demand side response, and how we can help them engage more. It will be an important addition to our portfolio of community-based projects. We are looking forward to working with the researchers as they support community groups to access the benefits of a smart, flexible energy system."

Project partner Cllr Mas Patel said:

‘Newham Council declared a climate emergency in 2019. This project provides a tangible opportunity for Newham residents and businesses to contribute to our climate emergency action plan, while delivering wide-ranging benefits for the diverse communities of the borough, from cleaner air and better health to improved transport, housing and open spaces.