The worlds most energy efficient village

The worlds most energy efficient village, and the next step on their journey – A Smart Grid of course
This is a great video which shows the potential of our smaller villages and towns to act as our future power stations, with the people in control.

Consumers in favour of community energy and smart grids

A new report by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) explores the emerging role of smart grids in the UK and presents a vision of the near future where energy use is monitored in real time, home appliances are automated, and Britain is powered by a network of community run energy schemes.

Findings from the research show that there is a real appetite for change, both from industry and the public, but the benefits of smart grids need to be clearly communicated and shared.

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However, smart grids face a chicken and egg problem; there is little incentive to develop them until electric vehicles, heat pumps and renewables are more widely used, but increased deployment of these technologies will require smarter systems in order to maintain a reliable supply of electricity.

Key challenges must be overcome in preparing for the ‘smart’ revolution – such as low levels of public understanding of smart grids, misuse of data and concerns over energy suppliers remotely controlling home appliances, as well as more fundamental difficulties in predicting how smart grids will develop over time.

Developed using expert and public feedback, the research identifies four possible smart grid futures or ‘scenarios’; from a world dominated by gas with little smart grid development (‘Minimum Smart’), to one where renewables and electric vehicles are strongly incentivised and developed; leading to a consumer driven smart grid (‘Smart 2050’).

Project leader Dr Nazmiye Balta-Ozkan of the University of Westminster’s Policy Studies Institute, says: “The UK’s electricity grid is fast becoming outdated, as new technologies and new behaviours change the way we use and supply power. Our increased use of intermittent renewables and electric vehicles will require more intelligent ways of managing and delivering energy. But energy suppliers and the government need to be switched on to consumer concerns about this transition.”

“Smart grids could allow consumers’ to benefit from cheaper energy bills by matching tariffs to their usage patterns, as well as enabling more efficient use of energy and more effective integration of large amounts of renewables. However, policy needs to address the long-term issues around risk, innovation and investment, as well as equity so that vulnerable consumers are not disadvantaged,” she adds.

Of the scenarios developed, the least popular with the public was the ‘Minimum Smart’ scenario with just 8% support. The preferred option, with 53% support, was the ‘Groundswell’ scenario, which predicts a future where a significant amount of electricity is generated by households and through community led schemes.

Participants chose the ‘Groundswell’ scenario because it showed a strong commitment to renewable energy (cited by 68% of public participants) and offered the opportunity to decrease energy bills (cited by 66%).

Smart meters which can monitor and control energy usage at domestic level are widely seen by experts as being an important part of smart grid development. However, a lack of strong data protection and privacy measures (cited by 60%), as well as consumer apprehension about sharing energy data (cited by 49%), were seen by the public as the biggest barriers to future UK smart grid development.

There was also concern that those on lower incomes would not be able to afford smart appliances and that vulnerable people could be taken advantage of by companies, or miss out on potential benefits. Ensuring that the benefits of smart grids flow to consumers will play a key role in encouraging householders’ participation.

The report also highlights the critical need for a long-term, cross-sector policy vision for smart grids, which is likely to significantly enhance investor confidence.

The main report can be accessed by clicking here

Energy saving in the workplace – the next big win?

As the price of energy rises it is increasingly hitting the bottom line of businesses. In an ever competitive world reducing the costs of energy is becoming an important factor for many businesses to keep ahead of their competition.

There are a growing mix of Smart Energy solutions which will allow businesses to use energy differently and even create new revenue streams through offering balancing services by switching non-essential equipment off during peak times.  DSC04996 (600 x 450)

Whist we will be following these changes closely, there is still a lot of low hanging fruit. With the biggest, ripest fruit being encouraging simple energy efficiency measures and behavioural change in the workplace.

A report published this week by Rexel UK reviled just how big that opportunity is, finding that:

  • Only 20% of consumers would say that they are energy conscious in the workplace compared to almost 50% at home.
  • Over 70% of consumers say they are concerned about wasting energy at home, only 43% worry about wastage at work.
  • Only 60% turn off the lights in the office compared to 93% at home.

This was also shown in a report published by the Carbon Trust last year which found that just 23% of employees have been asked to help save energy at work by their manager. It also found that whilst the vast majority, 92%, worry about the cost of energy at home, less than half are concerned about it whilst at work.

In this context there is a significant opportunity for employers to make a real difference to how their staff use energy in the workplace and give them the tools to not only reduce energy use whilst at work but to take these tools home with them and implement them in their own homes.  With a little support employers can reduce their bottom line as well as that of their employee’s energy bills, a double whammy for improving their productivity.

What is a Smart Grid?

The Smart Grid is just one part of a new Smart Energy ecosystem but it will undoubtedly be an integral one, through which, our interconnected homes and businesses will be able to play an active role within the wider energy system and market.

There are countless definitions of what a Smart Grid is but as with all definitions they are a bit dry. We thought we would point you in the direction of a couple of our favorite youtube videos which take on the challenge from two different, but equally entertaining viewpoints.

Enjoy!!

Transactive energy and the democratization of energy – two phrases we will hear a lot more of

Our energy system is changing. As we see the exponential growth of new ‘edge technologies’ it is becoming increasingly apparent that the traditional centralised power system will simply be unable to co-ordinate all these new devices. This simple fact means we are currently at the cusp of a paradigm shift in how we produce, distribute and consume energy.1

Smart Grid technology itself only offers part of the solution. The real solution lies in the technology enabling; electricity supply, delivery and demand to be managed through a market based approach – transactive energy. Transactive energy is a word we will hear a lot more of over the coming years as it is likely to be the driving force in the development of Smart Grids. There are two key reasons for this:

  • Firstly, a market based approach is essential to manage the complexity of a new Smart Grid
  • Secondly, consumers will increasingly demand it

The Smart Grid will allow the consumer to play an equal role in what has been a traditionally highly centralised market. This trend has big implications; the democratization of energy markets (this is not the last time you will hear this)

Moving to a Transactive energy market and ultimately the democratization of energy is not going to be straightforward. There will be technical challenges with interoperability and security. Perhaps a more significant challenge will be addressing how consumers deal this increased complexity.

However, whilst over the coming years we will see many articles citing these as reasons why things won’t happen. We are not so sure, as we are already seeing fascinating changes. Not just in the technological solutions, but also new social models being developed by our communities themselves. This combination of technological and social innovation will be the driving force behind this now inevitable paradigm shift in our energy futures.

If you want to know more keep following us also have a read at this article

The Smart Home

The move to a new Smart Energy System provides individual households and communities with the tools to take control of their own energy futures.

The Smart home is now a reality following the rapid technological developments, and convergence of the communications and IT sectors, providing the power to actively manage the many components that make up a Smart Home. The smart home will be actively connected to the wider energy system allowing householders to not only produce their own energy but to use it when they need it or sell it back to the grid when it is needed most. Homes currently challenge our energy system with big peaks in demand when we all come home in the evening. In the future our homes will actually support the wider energy system, through, smart appliances, heating and even electric vehicles, reducing demand at high use times as well as new storage technologies retain energy at times of excess and releasing it when needed. All this will be accessed through a simple phone application.

Smart Home

Perhaps the most exciting opportunity of smart homes is how they can work together as a community. Through communities working together local energy markets have the potential to allow up to 70% of our energy spend to be retained within the local economy. Energy will bring people together locally like the internet has brought people together globally. Innovative social energy models will be developed where communities themselves tackle challenging issues such as fuel poverty.

A smart home is however, not just about energy. A smart home will include technology that can ‘intuitively’ help us live, work and play for example. Our colleagues at Intellect have done a great job of summarising some of the challenges and opportunities we face as we get increasingly connected in our day to day lives.

If you are on you mobile click here

For a more detailed review click here

 

Horizon 2020 has been launched

The first Horizon 2020 Calls for Proposals have now been launched. As expected there has been very little change from the draft proposals that we highlighted a few weeks back, so smart grid and smart energy are still key themes.

Our colleagues at EU Energy Focus are currently summarising each of the topics as the website isn’t the easiest to navigate. Once these are complete we will send out the link. We are exploring a number of areas so if you have any ideas we would as ever be interested to discuss them with you.

Latest winners of Smart Grid funding announced

LCN

The results of the latest round of funding for Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund and Network Innovation Competitions have recently been published. These schemes are the UK governments support programme for network operators to develop new smart solutions to future network challenges.

This year, ten innovative projects have been selected and will receive a total of £59.4m. There are some really interesting projects selected this year which we will watch with interest. You can find a great summary by following the link below.

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/84840/2013innovationcompetitionbrochure.pdf