EDRC Wales Stakeholder Forum: Energy Demand Reduction & Place-Based Energy Retrofit

Panellists of the wales forum standing up in a line smiling to the camera
Blog 16 May, 2024

EDRC Wales Stakeholder Forum: Energy Demand Reduction & Place-Based Energy Retrofit

Following England and Northern Ireland, Wales was the next stop for the EDRC’s roadshow. The event took place on 29 April 2024 in Cardiff and introduced the EDRC’s vision and plan to research reducing energy demand. Welsh stakeholders shared their views on a place-based approach to energy demand reduction and achieving net zero.

The EDRC team hosted 25 stakeholders from different sectors in Wales, including government, industry, academia, local authorities, and energy network companies. After opening remarks from the event chair and EDRC’s Flexibility theme leader Jacopo Torriti, the EDRC Director Mari Martiskainen provided an overview of EDRC and its vision: to inform and inspire energy demand reductions for a Net Zero society, delivering impactful research with actionable solutions for industry, policymakers, practitioners, and charities.

EDRC’s Call to Action on Energy Demand Reduction

The EDRC’s Call to Action was discussed in a panel session chaired by Meysam Qadrdan. The panel included Jon Maddy (University of South Wales), Lirong Liu (University of Surrey), Gareth Clubb (Energy Community Wales), and Karen Henwood (Cardiff University). They addressed critical topics such as barriers to implementing place-based approaches to the Net Zero transition and strategies to enhance demand-side flexibility. Panellists emphasised the importance of equity in demand reduction efforts, highlighting the need for policies and measures that ensure fair access to clean energy solutions for all socio-economic groups. They stressed that addressing equity concerns is crucial to effectively overcoming barriers and maximising the benefits of transitioning to Net Zero, as it promotes inclusive participation and equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.

The panellists emphasised the importance of localised approaches to reducing energy demand in communities. These approaches must be effective, equitable, and tailored to the needs of diverse populations while supporting the national decarbonisation target. The speakers also underscored the significance of renovating buildings and using low-carbon technologies in new construction projects. AI can be instrumental in translating vast amount of data into useful information needed by various stakeholders.

Overall, the panel emphasised a holistic approach to energy transitions, integrating social, technical, and political factors. There was a consensus on the need to reducing energy demand while ensuring equitable access to sustainable energy solutions for all communities.

Place-Based Energy Retrofit in Wales

The second panel, led by Donal Brown, a Research Fellow at SPRU, University of Sussex, focused on adopting a place-based approach to retrofitting homes in Wales. The panellists included Malcolm Davies, Senior Programme Manager at the Optimised Retrofit Programme (ORP), and Cerys Williams, Finance Partnerships Manager at Sero, a company dedicated to assisting housing providers in retrofitting their homes to achieve Net Zero targets. The panellists discussed topics such as fuel poverty and climate adaptation in relation to place-based energy retrofitting and highlighted various key themes: from community participation to effective communication and the necessary shift towards sustainable building practices.

Let’s go through the insights shared by each speaker:

Donal Brown, the chair of the panel, discussed the need for a place-based approach to retrofitting homes to address issues such as fuel poverty and climate change. He emphasised the importance of working with local communities to create supportive ecosystems for retrofitting, which involves understanding local needs and providing comprehensive support such as energy advice, financing, and training for local workers.

Malcolm Davies then emphasised the crucial role of effective communication in convincing people about the benefits of retrofitting. He stressed the importance of using clear, person-centred language and solutions to foster collaboration and increase acceptance of new technologies, highlighting the significance of language in driving behavioural change. Malcolm also highlighted the significance of the circular economy, emphasising the need for effective reuse and recycling of products and materials in retrofitting projects.

Cerys Williams also presented a case study on a local adaptation project in Penderi. The project was a place-based retrofit aiming to create net-zero homes simply and affordably by engaging residents and landlords through infrastructure upgrades, onsite battery storage, and solar energy production. Cerys highlighted the project’s success in reducing carbon emissions and providing financial benefits to residents and landlords. Residents benefited from lower electricity costs by paying 35% less per kWh for solar energy compared to purchasing from the suppliers. Landlords earned income by selling generated solar energy to their tenants and, in some cases, by exporting surplus energy to the grid. This made the project scalable and mutually beneficial for both parties.

In conclusion, the forum highlighted the importance of place-based approaches in energy retrofitting, emphasizing community engagement, effective communication, and the adoption of sustainable practices to drive Wales towards a greener, more resilient future.

Picture of the audience of the EDRC Wales forum. People are sitting down in different group around tables during one of the presentations

Audience at the EDRC Wales forum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture taken from the back of the room during the EDRC Wales forum. People are sitting down in different group around tables during one of the presentations

Donal Brown presenting at the EDRC Wales forum