Data modeling, systems design, and detailed planning are all moving at full speed for the SmartHubs Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES) project in West Sussex, UK, with implementation planned to safely ramp up when lockdown restrictions ease.
The timing of the project is apt as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told global leaders at the virtual Petersberg Climate Dialogue that it is the "duty of every responsible government" to reboot economies along climate-resilient lines.
He went on to add, "This means investing in industries and infrastructure that can turn the tide on climate change." Leading green business coalition, the European Corporate Leaders Group (CLG Europe), is also urging EU leaders to put decarbonization and green jobs at the core of their coronavirus recovery strategy.
SmartHubs is a £31 million demonstrator to integrate decarbonization of heat, transport and energy across social housing, transport, infrastructure and private residential and commercial properties. Part of the funding is provided through the government's modern industrial strategy by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation. Their 'Prospering from the Energy Revolution' challenge is an overall £102.5 million investment from the government to develop smart systems that can support the global move to renewable energy.
The project, which aims to revolutionize the way energy is generated, stored, shared and consumed, features homegrown UK Clean Tech pioneers jointly rising up to grapple with the challenge of the energy transition. SmartHubs brings together innovative technology systems and business models to deliver a replicable, scalable, distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) of the future.
"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, Connected Energy CEO 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 SmartHubs VPP, powered by Moixa's GridShare technology will aggregate and manage the large fleet of hybrid systems across transport, heat and power to deliver flexibility services into ancillary markets ensuring system reliability and delivering a stronger, cheaper, cleaner grid. Moixa will also provide up to 350 smart solar panel and battery systems to deliver sustainable, low-carbon energy to social homes, schools, businesses and the local public sector in West Sussex. Up to 250 electric vehicle charging points to support the transition to low carbon transport will also be installed.
Interseasonal heat transfer firm ICAX is designing and installing a marine source heat pump to transfer heat from the sea water in Shoreham Harbour to heat adjacent buildings of the Shoreham Port Authority using a district heating system.
PassivSystems will install 250 air source heat pumps (ASHP) with smart controls in domestic social and private residences both on and off gas grid. Learning algorithms analyse multiple data points within the homes to learn their thermal properties. Weather information and user behavior will then be overlaid to predict user demand; this is then used to optimize the efficiency of the heating system and will enable aggregation to respond to demand side response (DSR) opportunities. Throughout the life of SmartHubs PassivSystems will further develop its smart controls and operating platform to improve social landlord and tenant interfaces and enhance demand forecasting to support VPP outcomes.
ITM Power will investigate the feasibility of integrating electrolyzer based hydrogen refueling systems into a localised energy system. Hydrogen generated from renewables can provide zero carbon fuel for transport and support the local energy system with a 2 MW load which can be switched on or off, enabling better management and control of the electricity system. Lead partner Connected Energy will deliver a 12 MW in-front-of-the-meter battery energy storage system in Sompting West Sussex, as well as up to nine 300 kW behind-the-meter battery systems across the region, and up to five EV charging hubs with integrated photovoltaics and battery energy storage. These systems will use over 1,000 second-life electric vehicle batteries and add grid balancing, grid load management and resilience services to the project. The 12 MW system alone has a total capacity of 14.4 MWh, the energy equivalent of powering 1,695 average homes for a whole day*.
Newcastle University's Electrical Power Research Group's socio-technical research will use mathematical methods in order to evaluate the whole series of network management techniques used in the project. The team will bring modeling expertise to SmartHubs, providing a detailed technical understanding of the performance parameters of each technology to be deployed.
Steve Read, director of Environment and Public Protection at West Sussex County Council said, "We are delighted to be part of the SmartHubs project. This is an exciting opportunity and recognition of our growing reputation for delivering successful, pioneering energy projects such as our solar farms, battery storage projects and Solar Power for Schools program.”
SmartHubs is one of four Innovate UK demonstrator projects to be built over the next three years to illustrate how integrated intelligent local systems can deliver power, heat and mobility to users in new and better ways.