Powering towards Net zero: Pioneering energy projects get the green light

Powering towards Net zero: Pioneering energy projects get the green light

Powering towards Net zero: Pioneering energy projects get the green light

  • £21m awarded to 10 ground-breaking smart energy projects across UK from Coleraine to Rugeley to trial new technology which could become a blueprint for greener localized energy generation on the road to net zero
  • Projects include generating geothermal energy from canals and old coal mineshafts and a heat network warming homes from the London underground
  • Further £4.5 million for Key Technology Components for Local Energy Systems
  • Fourth phase of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) will see £22 million allocated to UK institutions to undertake research on the decarbonisation of key sectors

Thousands of people could see their energy bills cut and their homes powered by local, renewable energy thanks to new government funding.

Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, said:

“Every corner of the UK has a part to play as we eliminate our contribution to climate change entirely by 2050. This funding will deliver energy savings and reduce carbon emissions – a win-win for communities and the environment.”

If successful, the community pilot projects, which span from Liverpool and Coventry, to Southend and Milford Haven, could revolutionize local energy generation – bringing local communities into the frontline in the fight against climate change.

The competition ran as part of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)  Prospering from the Energy Revolution challenge and will contribute to the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The winners hope to create a pipeline of highly innovative, ambitious and investable local energy system designs that will be ready to roll out across the UK in the 2020s.

Rob Saunders, Challenge Director, Prospering from the Energy Revolution, UKRI said:

“The winners of both the designs and the technology competitions show the breadth of innovation that the government is helping to flourish across the UK.  This innovation provides new approaches to delivering our net zero commitments by delivering cleaner, cheaper energy services while creating more prosperous and resilient communities.  But as well as their benefits to consumers, these projects, as part of the Clean Growth Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge, place UK industry at the forefront of the global shift to clean energy systems and economies.”

The competition winners include:

  • Zero Carbon Rugeley – will deliver a detailed design of a smart local energy system for Rugeley Town and its local area, including the 2,300 houses being built in the former ENGIE Rugeley Power Station.
  • Peterborough Integrated Renewables Infrastructure (PIRI) – will integrate low-carbon energy provisions and support sustainable growth. By integrating electrification, mobility and heat provision, the design will maximise low-carbon energy exploitation, accelerate low-carbon technology adoption and enhance the overarching energy system – providing a project that can be fully replicated in other areas.
  • REWIRE-NW – proposes new market arrangements that pave the way for change. By using 5G and data-centric intelligence, the project will drive the local energy systems towards lower costs and lower carbon outcomes.
  • Project REMeDY – based in Southend, will develop their Horizontally Integrated Vertical Energy Systems (HIVES) approach to produce a local energy system design covering the whole of the large town of Southend that is replicable across the UK.
  • Milford Haven Energy Kingdom – centred in Milford Haven, will focus on developing diverse, local seed markets to support the transition to hydrogen and renewables from fossil fuels. The funding will also allow their design to be developed to meet the heating and transportation needs of local communities, including local tourism to the area.

UKRI have also announced the winners of the Key Technology Components for Local Energy Systems competition, which share a further £4.5 million of funding with the aim to develop technology components that help improve the efficiency of local energy systems. These winners include technology that enables the charging of electric taxis and private electric vehicles at railway stations from the rail traction power supply.

In addition, UKRI has also announced £22 million of funding to enable engineers, social scientists and natural scientists to conduct vital research on global energy challenges and their implications for the UK.

The fourth phase of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) will see £22 million allocated to UK institutions to undertake research on the decarbonisation of key sectors such as industry, transport and heat, and explore the role of local, national and global changes in energy systems.  (link to web story)

The centre has also today announced that Dr Robert Gross, from Imperial College London, has been appointed as its new director. Dr Gross, who is one of UKERC’s co-directors, succeeds Professor Jim Watson, who has been UKERC director since 2015.

The 10 local smart energy design projects are

  • West Midlands Regional Energy System Operator (RESO) – Coventry
  • GIRONA – Coleraine, Causeway Coast and Glens
  • Peterborough Integrated Renewables Infrastructure (PIRI) – Peterborough
  • GreenSCIES 2 – Green Smart Community Integrated Energy Systems – Islington (London)
  • Zero Carbon Rugeley – Rugeley
  • GM Local Energy Market – Greater Manchester
  • Project REMeDY – spearheading a Revolution in Energy Market Design – Southend
  • Energy Kingdom – Milford Haven
  • Multi-vector Energy Exchange – Liverpool
  • REWIRE-NW – Warrington

The Key Technology Components for Local Energy Systems competition winners are:

Project Description
Domestic Infrastructure and Network Optimisation (DINO) A two-way communications system that will allow network operators to communicate with household equipment to warn it when the local system is under stress and automatically relieve that stress.
Guru Engage This project builds on Guru Systems’ experience over the past seven years of using the Internet of Things and data analytics to improve outcomes on heat networks.
v-powerChain V-powerChain is a blockchain/AI-based virtual power plant (VPP) that significantly improves the efficiency of the whole local energy systems.
Thermochemical seasonal solar energy storage for building applications (SeasonalStorage) The overall aim of this project is to design, develop and construct an innovative and inter-seasonal thermochemical energy storage system, which can be run stand-alone or as a key component integrated into the existing local energy systems.
Maximising Grid Services from Electric Vehicles (M-GSEV) This project will build upon existing electric vechicle (EV) smart-charging solution to enable households to provide grid services which will reduce the cost of EV ownership, improve the reliability of the electricity systems and avoid costly network investments.
Smart Heat Pump Enhanced Thermal Energy Storage for Low Carbon Local Energy Systems The project will deliver innovatively configured and optimised Thermal Energy Storage solutions to enable low carbon heat generation within UK (and worldwide) local energy systems.
BankEnergi – end to end software for energy trading Our project will focus on the development of a specification that the energy sector can use to create an end-to-end trading solution from local building level to national energy markets
ADVENT – Advanced Data-driven Virtual Electricity Network Tracking ADVENT aims to develop and test a virtual network monitoring device based on voltage readings using novel techniques and algorithms. It will offer a most cost effective solution than existing monitoring solutions for load, voltage and unreported micro-generation.
Rail-Change Rail-Change will develop a novel energy management system of a local energy network enabling integrated charging of electric taxis and private electric vehicles at railway stations from the rail traction power supply.
Smart HOme Control for ENergy System Integration (SHOCENSI) Through incorporating cutting-edge digital technologies in the BESS and integrating them into a single platform, it is envisaged that Powervault will revolutionise the way energy is generated, used and managed throughout the home.
EV Fleet-Centred Local Energy System (EFLES) The EFLES  project will develop the software and commercial framework central to the monitoring, control, optimisation and implementation of a prosumer-centric local energy system.
URBAN-X , Urban Local energy trading exchange UrbanX takes a holistic and climate-proof approach to a decentralised energy system through smart energy trading. It will use the combined experience of the partners in delivering data-driven energy management solutions and will engage with stakeholders on energy and environmental challenges.
Hypervolt – Smart local energy systems Hypervolt aims to develop an end-to-end smart EV charging solution for the UK and European residential market, featuring state-of-the-art technology, an innovative subscription model, and a cloud software suite for enhanced analytics and local energy system integration.
Port Energy Systems Optimisation (PESO) The PESO project will show how ports can use smart grid technology and energy storage to de-carbonise their activities, and reduce their adverse impact on air quality, more cost effectively than would otherwise be possible.
Open Protocol Cloud Metering for Heat Networks This project aims to facilitate the provision of the benefits of open protocol metering delivering: savings to energy users, at the same time as providing data for network operators to address efficiency and safeguarding issues.
Heat networks as flexible grid assets The proposed project seeks to use artificial intelligence (AI) to learn how the thermal mass in buildings and the inherent latency can be flexed to manage energy demand and maintain tenant comfort levels.
CODES: The Control of District-heating Efficiency through Smart data-driven models The Control Of District-heating Efficiency through Smart data-driven models (CODES) will develop a holistic control system for district heat networks that optimises network efficiency through the integration of smart consumer controls, big data analytics, and energy flexible operations.

About the UK Energy Research Centre

Hosted by UCL, UKERC encompasses 17 universities, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chatham House and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies and is funded through the UKRI Energy Programme by UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council.

UKERC’s research programme will build evidence to inform decisions that shape the UK’s transition towards a net zero energy system and economy. It will explore the potential economic, political, social and environmental costs and benefits of energy system change, and consider how these impacts can be distributed equitably.

UKERC will also host and curate energy data, map and monitor public engagement, carry out systematic evidence reviews and improve the transparency and understanding of energy models.

UKRI is providing £18 million support for the fourth phase of UKERC, with partners contributing £4 million.

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