Why a bit on the SIDE may help us get to net-zero

“Smart Integrated Decentralised Energy” – or SIDE – is an innovative way of balancing energy supply and demand at a micro level.

The micro-generation of energy on a village or street level, improves self-sufficiency and stability with the capacity to harness greater use of renewable energy systems. It plays an interesting role in the transition towards a net-zero carbon future.

It may sound utopian, but there are examples across the world of communities who are generating, balancing and sharing energy across households, streets or businesses. Moving away from dependency on a linear carbon economy, this micro-generation leads to something more sustainable and has clear environmental benefits too.

On a practical level, by combining energy provision into locally integrated networks, communities can become more resilient through a bottom-up approach. Macro-geopolitical events such as the recent Suez crisis shouldn’t have such impact at this local level. Smart balancing of energy across a micro-grid improves stability through locally generated resourcing.

For example, let’s say if we have an over-production of wind or solar energy at micro level, this could be stored in communal batteries to provide electricity for local vehicles for instance. It has huge sustainability impact and drives efficiencies too.

This clearly requires complex technical ingenuity to build these local energy management systems. But of equal importance is the buy-in from the community – people, groups and businesses. This report by Florijn de Graaf draws interesting insights.

Graaf, says “Ultimately, this smart, decentralised integration democratises energy production and consumption, and allows consumers and cooperatives to take control of their own energy supply, which will help facilitate the renewable energy transition from the bottom-up.”

Graf refers to Netherlands-based case studies to suggest it is entirely possible to overcome the current incapacity of the grid infrastructure—which in the Netherlands can handle the input of only 25-30 percent of intermittent renewable energy. Using SIDE, this percentage can be increased dramatically to as much as around 50-75 percent, de Graaf argues.

Does this therefore pave the way for lower energy costs, compared with grid-produced power?

Well-shared resources, less reliance of big macro and geo factors (such as Suez) and the further harnessing of natural resources can only be seen as good things.

It is also a sign of the times – one which shows that things are changing, with an irreversible rise in renewables and lessening of reliance on coal generation mixed with the growth of micro grids, we are empowering ourselves and offering genuine alternatives in a sustainable carbon net-zero future.



By David Bootle

David Bootle is Global Head of Corporate Marketing for Northern Gas and Power. Formally a national news journalist, David has extensive experience of international marketing and an equally extensive network of media, broadcast and advertising contacts. With Northern Gas and Power, David has provided positive brand profile with trade and international media, Chambers of Commerce and the CBI to name a few.