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The Institution of Civil Engineers Institute / association Website
Last edited 16 Jul 2017

Municipal energy - briefing sheet

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In February 2017, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) published a briefing sheet focusing on municipal energy transmission, retailing, and legislation, associated issues and the role of local authorities in energy distribution.

Councils are increasingly taking a lead role in the municipalisation of energy by implementing innovative energy schemes to reduce costs, provide value for money, generate income and address fuel poverty.

The briefing paper provides an overview of some of the issues associated with municipal energy and focuses on the UK, with its unique history relating to energy transmission, retailing and legislation.

The transmission of electricity is not a straightforward process and the transmission network can become constrained by a number of factors such as voltage issues, thermal issues, fault levels, power quality and reverse power flow. The situation is complicated by energy now also being distributed locally and entering the grid at a variety of different levels and at different scales.

Some of these network constraints are being addressed through the evolution of smart grids which employ communications, innovative products and services together with intelligent monitoring and control technologies. The timescale for and cost of grid connections are a major issue for businesses.

However, the difficulty of obtaining a grid connection has led to the creation of innovative solutions. One such solution for The Museum of Liverpool - which essentially is located on an island, cut off from the mainland by water, docks and a canal - was to create a tri-generation energy centre that provides heat, electricity and cooling.

The briefing paper provides an introduction to the role local authorities have played with regard to the distribution of energy and their current interests in this agenda around both infrastructure and energy retailing.

Many councils such as Peterborough, Nottingham and Liverpool are using innovative solutions and developing renewable energy alternatives to fossil fuels. By doing this, they are delivering value for money for local council tax-payers, generating income and addressing fuel poverty through reduced energy bills for residents.

The document provides information on:

  • Generation and transmission.
  • Grid connections.
  • Utility companies.
  • Municipal energy companies.
  • Other sources of renewable energy.
  • Balancing and trading.
  • Drivers for change.
  • Demand and storage.

It also contains links to case studies including:

  • Bristol Energy
  • Repowering London
  • Museum of Liverpool
  • Plymouth Energy Community.

To download the briefing sheet, go here.


This article was originally published on 15 Feb 2017 by ICE. It was written by Rabinder Phull.

--The Institution of Civil Engineers

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