Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES) Digital Comic now out

Published on 11 September 2023

UPDATE – The Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES) Digital Comic has been sent out to MPs with the message that ‘Policy must support the many grassroots innovations already working on these non-tech issues’. Download copies & share


Comic books aren’t just about superheros. They can also be a great way of communicating research

We all struggle with how best to make our work more impactful. Understanding who are audience is and what our objectives are – are all good starting places. However, how can we effectively communicate complexity, give voice to marginalised sections of our communities and create a compelling story? Maybe a comic strip is the answer. Find out how the Sussex Energy Group is using cartoon art to talk about Smart Local Energy Systems.

Professor Adrian Smith at the Sussex Energy Group explains  “Working with a comic strip artist enabled us to illustrate complex issues and imagine systems in which absences of inclusion are remedied in a visually stimulating way. We worked closely with the artist to develop a storyline that includes paths-not-taken for these new energy systems, and  develop images of people using future systems otherwise absent in demonstrations on the ground.”

About the project

For many experts, Smart local energy systems (SLES) are crucial to the UK’s transition to a Net Zero energy system. Over the last two years, a research team led by Adrian at the Sussex Energy Group has analysed developments in smart local energy systems (SLES) in the UK, as part of an ESRC-funded research project called ROLES.

This particular research project focuses on people, not the technology. It explores how policymakers could design and govern smart local energy systems that are fair to everyone who uses them.

The comic was developed by Adrian Smith, Gerardo A. Torres Contreras, Marie Claire Brisbois, and Richard Flockemann with Tim Zocco, the comic strip artist.

Read more

What are SLES?

Smart Local Energy Systems are connected systems made up of technologies that generate, store and manage renewable energy. For example, a smart local energy system might be a household with solar panels, battery storage, smart appliances and smart meters, that could be be integrated with the local energy network to feed back energy when it is needed elsewhere.