The co-benefits and risks of smart local energy systems: a systematic review

Rachel Bray, Rebecca Ford, Madeleine Morris, Jeff Hardy, Luke Gooding

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A transition to ‘smart’ local energy systems (SLES) could provide an opportunity to deliver a range of social, economic, technical and place-based co-benefits for SLES communities, alongside CO2 reduction. However, there could also be underlying factors that limit success.

In this paper we present the results of a systematic literature review to outline the potential co-benefits and risks of taking a SLES approach to energy system change. This review identifies multiple potential co-benefits, as well as a range of risk factors which could affect delivery. In addition, we identified that several co-benefits are interconnected, whereby certain co-benefits cannot occur until other co-benefits have first been achieved.

We propose three dimensions of SLES co-benefits and risks: process, impact, and distribution to aid understanding of how, where, why and when these co-benefits or risks could arise and who might be in receipt of them. However, we conclude that a more co-ordinated approach across a range of stakeholders is required to maximise beneficial outputs and to ameliorate risks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103608
Number of pages13
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date8 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jun 2024


  • co-benefits
  • local energy
  • smart energy
  • energy communities
  • process
  • impacts
  • distribution


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