Smart Local Energy System Composition: A Portfolio Review of PFER Concept Projects

Published: 21 September 2020

Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES) are an emergent concept, both technically and commercially. Although frequently referenced within national, regional and network operator strategies, they are still difficult to define since the scale, approach, technologies, stakeholders and outcomes can vary from one to the next.

Rather than attempting to define a SLES, we will start to show how projects are interpreting the remit of developing a Smart Local Energy System and provide an analysis of the group consensus that is emerging.


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Energy Systems Catapult created the Energy Revolution Integration Service (ERIS) – to provide expert guidance and support to SLES projects across the UK. This is part of the £102 million Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER) programme under the Industrial Strategy Clean Growth Fund (ISCF), directed by UK Research & Innovation.


There are 25 projects being explored as part of the PFER programme; 11 concepts designs, 10 detailed designs and 4 demonstrators.

Key points

This portfolio review is based upon analysis of outcomes from the 11 concept designs. These projects were awarded a total of £1.5m grant funding over six months.

  • The 11 concepts developed in the PFER programme have demonstrated that the Smart Local Energy System remit can be delivered through a diverse range of approaches across different sectors, energy vectors and technologies.
  • Although there is no coherent vision of a SLES, many concepts provide similar services and share similar barriers.
  • The SLES concepts have brought together diverse sets of stakeholders to develop designs that could provide value across complex groups of stakeholders.
  • The stakeholder that is least understood is the consumer, with more work needed into the associated consumer value proposition.
  • Every project identified numerous barriers to the implementation of their concept – with unanimous agreement that existing market structures are not conducive to unlocking the value that Smart Local
    Energy Systems could provide.
  • The projects have helped to identify key areas of further work around market structures, tools & data, legitimacy & strategy and smart systems.