Our current power grid has its roots in its 19th century origins: at that time the grid was conceived as a centralized unidirectional system of electric power transmission, electricity distribution, and demand-driven control. The fundamental architecture of these networks has been developed to meet the needs of large, predominantly carbon-based generation technologies, located remotely from demand centers.
But there is another way. Realising Transition Pathways, a consortium of researchers from across nine UK universities, has set out a road map for distributed, locally produced, energy supply. The researchers propose that civic energy could provide half of the UK's electricity by 2050. Existing community energy projects – run by groups of citizens – could link with new roles for local authorities as energy service companies to form a civic energy sector. This civic sector would expand on the work of energy crowdfunding platforms such as Pure Leapfrog and mutual models such as Energy4All to provide new ways for ordinary citizens to invest in local energy resources.