This work was funded by the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) as part of the Neighbourhood Battery Initiative (NBI)
Evaluating your project is a critical final step that is often neglected. There are a number of reasons why it’s so important to give time and resources to evaluation.
In summary, you need to evaluate in order to:
- ensure your model works (and will thus sustain itself)
- be accountable to community, partners and funders, which could specifically include:
- providing confidence for investors, attract further investment
- meeting accreditation, standards, investment scheme requirements
- required reporting on public funding, grants
- learn and share lessons
Evaluating the implementation of your model soon after it’s launched is critical to make sure it works as you expect. Your business model needs to work to sustain your battery project – if revenues don’t match costs, then you’re obviously in trouble. Beyond this, you also need to make sure the battery is delivering the services and benefits you promised, to participants, partners and the community. A thorough evaluation will give this information, allowing you to respond pro-actively to make adjustments or negotiate changes. It will also give information on what these adjustments and changes should be.
Accountability is important to maintaining the trust and confidence of your community. Reporting back on how things are going is an important way of keeping them on board. It’s also important to your partners and your funders. Evaluation is likely to be required when you’ve attracted funding from government or from green investors. They’ll want ongoing indications that you’re meeting your objectives. This may be important to attract further investment, including by gaining accreditation.
Neighbourhood batteries are an emerging technology, set to make a significant contribution to energy transition. However, we’re very much at the stage of working out how to deploy them for maximum benefit. The emerging neighbourhood battery community is already characterised by an openness to sharing and learning together. As well as being important for your project and your community, learning lessons from your project can help other groups across the country, and beyond, to successfully implement their own community batteries and contribute to the transition that is needed.