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The local energy revolution - 4 energy demonstrators announced

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It’s about 10 months since we started the energy revolution programme in earnest, aiming to show how putting together innovative local solutions intelligently can deliver clean, cheap energy in ways that people like, as well as good local jobs and prosperity.

Since then we have done an awful lot, running major competitions for large scale local energy systems demonstrators and concepts, launched a major new research consortium, funded an integration platform in the Energy Systems Catapult, and launched a number of technology development projects.

Innovation at town scale

We’re very excited to be unveiling 4 local energy system demonstrators as a result of that activity – showing how the future might look by deploying the latest innovations at town scale in projects across the UK.

Image of an energy efficient house from the Nottingham Trent Basin project
An energy efficient house from the Nottingham Trent Basin project

We will be able to see in real-time the effectiveness of new approaches in delivering cleaner, cheaper energy, see how the associated business models attract users and investors alike, and gain insight into the complexities of delivering these kinds of initiative.

Introducing the 4 demonstrators

  1. Local Energy Oxfordshire aims to demonstrate a competitive local energy marketplace using new intelligence in the local networks and operated by a range of competing market players and suppliers.  Low carbon projects around the area will plug into this local marketplace to enable optimal use of local resources, balancing supply and demand across power, heat and transport and smoothing load on the network through peer to peer trading
  2. Superhub Oxford takes a different approach and aims to show how stress can be removed from local networks by tapping into the national grid system to provide fast charging for vehicle fleets, electrical heating to local properties, and using artificial intelligence (AI) based grid response services via a novel flow battery deployment to generate revenue to help drive an investable business model
  3. ReFLEX Orkney is proving how a system that has too much renewables output (currently 1.3x demand) can be optimised locally to make the most of that resource, a set of circumstances that other parts of the world are very likely to face in the future as the cost of renewables plummets.   An AI-based virtual energy system platform will be installed that optimises supply and demand across heat, power and mobility by micro-trading of the flexibility available in heat pumps, heat storage, batteries, electric vehicle charging and hydrogen production for ferries and buses across the Orkneys
  4. the fourth project based in West Sussex uses a virtual power plant approach to optimise heat networks, solar & storage assets, and both electric and hydrogen-fuelled transport.  High levels of innovation include new hybrid heat networks at municipal scale for the first time and new power electronics to improve the resilience of the local grid to overloading

Smart house concept. Communication network of residence. Energy management system. IoT. AI.

Smart energy and AI

What I find really compelling about them is that they all involve new ways of supplying heat, power and mobility, all of them involve AI or machine learning to optimise the local system and all show how new ways of trading supply and demand at a micro-level might work to make better use of the system for everyone.

The individual approaches are tailored to the local areas but these commonalities clearly point to the great opportunity of smart local energy systems, integrated using the latest digital and data-based solutions.

We’re going to learn a huge amount from these projects over the coming 3years and look forward to keeping you updated on progress regularly.


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