Government-backed project aims to demonstrate how power, transport and heating technologies can be combined to shrink CO2 emissions and electricity bills
A government-backed project to integrate energy management across social housing, transport infrastructure and residential and commercial buildings in West Sussex is gearing up to begin development once lockdowns ease, the group of firms behind the project confirmed today.
The SmartHubs smart local energy system (SLES) project, which secured backing from the government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund in April last year, aims to show how power, heating, and transport technologies can work together to boost efficiency while slashing CO2 emissions and bills.
The £31m project is backed by a consortium of clean tech firms and aims to develop a state-of-the-art distributed energy management system that can then be replicated elsewhere in the UK to support more flexible, low carbon power supplies as the net zero transition gathers pace.
Companies and organisations involved in the project include ITM Power, Moixa Technology, ICAX, PassivSystems, Newcastle University, West Sussex County Council and Connected Energy.
And today project partners confirmed that data modelling, systems design and detailed planning for the SmartHubs SLES project are all moving "at full speed" despite disruption and restrictions as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and that work on the trial is set to get underway proper once restrictions lift.
"SmartHubs is a massive project for a massive challenge, working with a local authority committed to both the climate change agenda and supporting SME scale up," said Matthew Lumsden, chief executive at Connected Energy and chair of the SmartHubs steering committee. "Bringing together innovative technologies and integrating them on this scale is an exciting proposition and one we are keen to see replicated up and down the country to help manage the climate emergency we're facing. Working on a project like this during a global pandemic is a challenge but it's more important than ever that we can create a replicable model for the rest of the UK to follow."
The partners aim to complete the project in the next three years.
Energy storage specialist Moixa will create a virtual power plant linking solar panels, EVs and batteries in hundreds of homes, schools and council buildings in the first phase of the project. It intends to install 250 electric vehicle charging points and 350 combined solar and storage facilities at 250 social homes, and in up to 100 public buildings and small businesses in West Sussex.
"This year is vital in the battle against climate breakdown," said Moixa chief executive Simon Daniel. "Now more than ever we must focus on reducing carbon emissions if we are to achieve net zero. SmartHubs will demonstrate how 'energy islands' across the world can use virtual power plants to successfully deliver on our environmental imperatives."
Moixa said its software would monitor user behaviour in order to work out the best ways to cut their bills and carbon emissions, with this softare also linked with other clean technology systems in the project, such as heat pumps, in order to deliver further savings to the grid.
Meanwhile, PassivSystems intends to install 250 air source heat pumps with smart controls and in private residences both on and off gas grid, and Newcastle University's Electrical Power Research Group will provide data analysis and system modelling for the project, they explained. Energy storage specialists and project lead Connected Energy are then set to focus on systems that use second electric vehicle batteries, ITM Power aims to generate zero carbon hydrogen gas for transport, and heat transfer firm ICAX is aiming to design and install a marine source heat pump that will transfer heat from the sea water in Shoreham Harbour to buildings Shoreham Port Authority using a district heating system.
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