In response to the climate emergency, energy landscapes are rapidly shifting to cleaner, decentralised smart local energy systems (SLESs). SLES will facilitate connection of transport, heat and power through flexible energy supply, demand and storage options supported by digital technology. SLESs are expected to contribute to tackling the energy trilemma (cost, security and sustainability), but there is also scope for them to offer many co-benefits aligned with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These benefits may drive for ongoing political and financial investment in SLES; therefore, there’s a need to indicate how a SLES is performing over time relative to each of them. Currently, there is no standardised approach to evaluate SLES and most of the existing techno-socio-economic tools have limited scope to assess the complex multiple performance indices, scenarios and stakeholders.
The Innovate UK-funded EnergyREV research consortium is developing a multi-criteria assessment tool (MCA) for SLES. This paper describes the first step in this process – developing a simplified and standardised framework for assessing the performance of the system and the realization of benefits. It explores existing
protocols and stakeholder opinion to identify 50 potential factors that are important in monitoring the system performance. These are clustered into 10 key themes to create a taxonomy for SLES performance that are aligned with relevant UN SDGs to track wider co-benefits. The resulting MCA tool will be instrumental to project stakeholders in providing evidence to support performance claims and identifying potential benefits beyond targeted key performance indicators.