27 May 2020
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 decarbonisation and green jobs at the core of their coronavirus recovery strategy.
SmartHubs is a £31 million demonstrator to integrate decarbonisation 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 revolutionise 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.
Led by energy storage specialists Connected Energy the SmartHubs consortium comprises the following organisations:
- PassivSystems – hybrid low-carbon home heating systems using air source heat pumps, learning predictive controls, demand aggregation and time-of-use cost avoidance controls to complement gas and oil boilers.
- ITM Power – generation of zero-carbon hydrogen gas for transport.
- ICAX – sustainable heating from recycled heat using a marine source heat pump.
- Moixa – software solutions to integrate, manage and optimise output from all the renewable energy and energy storage systems in a virtual power plant (VPP). Moixa also delivers smart, low carbon energy generation (PV), storage and EV charging solutions.
- Newcastle University – data analysis and system modelling for the project.
- West Sussex County Council – alongside local partners Adur & Worthing council, will support deployment of all assets within the county in order to meet their carbon goals and commitment to renewables.
- Connected Energy – energy storage specialists focussing on the systems that utilise 2nd life electric vehicle batteries.
“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 technologies involved in the project have differing degrees of maturity and therefore are attractive to different types of investors--part of the challenge when bringing together energy systems is not only the physical integration of the technologies, it is also to find appropriate investors to co-fund the project and understand the holistic nature of it.” said Matthew.
Rob Saunders, Challenge Director, Prospering From the Energy Revolution, UKRI: “The climate emergency is one of the most serious issues facing the world and the PFER challenge is a crucial component of the UK’s strategy to address and drive forward the actions required to shape clean energy for the future. The SmartHubs demonstrator has shown a revolutionary approach in combining expertise and innovation across energy generation, storage and usage with game-changing technologies combined into a cleaner, more flexible system that is fit for the future. Investing in these energy systems of the future - more localised, more intelligent and built on renewable sources to deliver cheaper, cleaner energy - will be central to the UK’s net zero plans and the SmartHubs project has shown the potential to be an exciting part of this strategy.”
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 behaviour will then be overlaid to predict user demand; this is then used to optimise 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 electrolyser based hydrogen refuelling 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 modelling 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 programme.
“The lessons we learn will help the Government to plan ahead and adapt our national energy system to the fundamental changes taking place. These include the growth in renewable energy supply, increasing demand for energy from electric vehicles and other innovations and the challenge of balancing energy supply and demand.”
SmartHubs is one of four Innovate UK demonstrator projects to be built over the next 3 years to illustrate how integrated intelligent local systems can deliver power, heat and mobility to users in new and better ways.
*Based on UK households using 3,100 kWh per year.
For more information please contact:
Gem Trainor – Marketing Communications Manager, Connected Energy
Notes to editors
Supplementary Quotes –
Simon Daniel, Moixa CEO: “This year is vital in the battle against climate breakdown. 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 (VPP) to successfully deliver on our environmental imperatives. Our GridShare software will carefully manage all 250 homes and up to 100 small commercial buildings with solar, batteries and EV chargers – the software will learn users’ behaviours to create tailored plans that cut the most carbon, while saving money for consumers. Then these assets will be aggregated together with other clean technology systems in the project, such as heat pumps, to deliver savings to the grid via a heterogeneous VPP and demonstrate how the artificial intelligence technology can accelerate the transition to renewable energy.”
Colin Calder, Chief Executive of PassivSystems: “SmartHubs enables PassivSystems to deploy the learnings from the FREEDOM Project which proved how multi-fuel, hybrid home heating systems can play a pivotal role in reducing carbon emissions to the mandated 2050 levels and at the same time, significantly lower running costs for consumers – both on and off the gas grid. The technology offers a pragmatic pathway to decarbonising heat while the flexibility available within the hybrid system offers additional financial benefits. SmartHubs will help demonstrate the true value of this flexibility both to the asset owner but also at an aggregated level as the potential avoided investment costs in local distribution infrastructure and generation capacity are understood.”
UK Research and Innovation is a new organisation that brings together the UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England into a single organisation to create the best environment for research and innovation to flourish. The vision is to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. For more information visit www.ukri.org
Connected Energy is an engineering led innovator in energy storage. Its technologies, that utilise second-life electric vehicle batteries, are rapidly changing the way intensive energy users can access the benefits of low-cost, on-site energy storage solutions. Connected Energy’s E-STOR battery energy storage system is modular and scalable, as well as straight forward to install and operate for energy intensive clients to flexibly control and reduce their energy costs and develop new revenue streams.
By redeploying partially degraded electric vehicle batteries in stationary energy storage applications Connected Energy almost doubles the usable lives of the batteries (and therefore the embedded resources) before recycling.
Moixa (www.moixa.com) is an industry leading energy technology company that manufacturers smart solar batteries and GridShare software to manage smart charging of batteries and electric vehicles.
Moixa aims for GridShare® to manage hundreds of GWh of batteries, leveraging its experience across homes in the UK, Ireland and Japan. GridShare uses AI to learn and optimise daily charging, leveraging low carbon resources and time-of-day tariffs. The software also enables utilities to aggregate and manage large fleets of batteries and electric vehicles in order to deliver flexibility services into ancillary markets and deliver superior customer propositions and savings.
Moixa’s scalable smart charging solution and AI software can be applied to all companies with large vehicle fleets to put managers in full control of their energy use and emissions. GridShare already hosts the world’s largest single fleet of domestic batteries across more than 15,000 homes in Japan, growing by more than 1,500 a month. The company is now using this experience to deliver intelligent, AI-driven optimisation for EV users and fleet operators.
Newcastle University (www.ncl.ac.uk) is a public research university in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. Newcastle University is a member of the Russell Group, an association of the 24 leading research-intensive UK universities, and it is one of the eight Russell Group Universities to achieve a Gold Teaching Excellence Framework rating. The University’s vision is to advance education and research and to help society tackle the many challenges it faces.
The academics at Newcastle who are working on the SmartHubs project are based in the Electrical Power Research Group, within the University’s School of Engineering. The group is the UK’s largest academic research group in Electrical Power, with specialisms in Power Systems and Energy Storage research.
ITM Power Plc (www.itm-power.com) is a globally recognised expert in hydrogen technologies with the overarching principle to take excess energy from the power network, convert it into hydrogen and use it in one of three broad market areas - Mobility, Powerto- X and Industry.
ITM Power supplies on-site hydrogen generation systems, which use electricity and water to make green hydrogen for refuelling Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). When hydrogen is generated on-site via water electrolysis, it is a very clean fuel to use in cars, buses and heavy vehicles.
PassivSystems (www.passivsystems.com) has developed a range of home energy services which are changing the landscape of the energy industry. We are a pioneering company at the forefront of making energy use more efficient and more affordable for millions of households. Our motivation is to help consumers, asset owners and businesses get better value for money and to make a significant difference to global emissions.
In 2010 we were the first company to launch a smart thermostat that allowed consumers to remotely control their heating and most recently, we became the first company to market with a hybrid heat pump solution that uses smart predictive controls, a solution that is ready to deploy at scale today.
ICAX™ is a cleantech company helping to meet the demand for on-site renewable energy and sustainable development by using heat transfer to achieve low carbon buildings.
ICAX provides a turnkey package for meeting sustainable energy targets on construction projects. We undertake design and installation to ensure that heating and cooling needs are met in a sustainable way by recycling heat energy. ICAX provides a complete range of services from initial feasibility through thermal modelling, design and delivery, to in use maintenance.
ICAX achieves this with Interseasonal Heat Transfer™ – a complementary integration of well-tried technologies and patented innovation.
West Sussex County Council
West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is committed to developing a secure, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy supply for residents and businesses through its Energy Strategy.
It is a pioneering local authority for energy and has a growing track record for delivering innovative and successful projects, including largescale renewable energy generation and storage.
It opened the country’s first subsidy-free solar farm in public ownership, built on a former landfill site near Chichester, and delivered a programme to cut energy costs and carbon emissions by installing solar PV on more than 80 schools. The authority also supplies renewable electricity to its residents through its own ‘white label’ energy supplier, Your Energy Sussex.
WSCC is working with Adur & Worthing Councils and the SmartHubs consortium to deliver a smart local energy system demonstrator for the county.