The aim of the work at Nottingham is to show that using electrical energy storage within a residential community could reduce the energy costs for consumers by:
- helping them consume more of the electricity they generate (free of charge) from their own solar panels (known as “self-consumption”);
- reducing the amount of energy they draw from the grid (known as “import”) especially at peak demand time (early evening).
We aim to do this using technology and equipment that is commercially available today. We also want to explore the concept of the “Energy Community” – where individual consumers work together to make best use of their own resources – solar generation, energy storage etc – and then use their stronger buying power to trade with the main energy suppliers. Our specific objective here is to show that by controlling the energy storage for the community rather than for the individual consumer, we can help to increase the benefit of these energy storage systems, for example:-
- for each individual member of the community by making use of economies of scale;
- for the community by making it possible to install higher numbers of solar panels within a particular location;
- for the network operator, by improving the quality of the electrical power within an area;
By doing this we will provide evidence to support changes to existing energy policies and attitudes which at the moment restrict the use of energy storage at distribution level especially when used by “energy communities” rather than individuals.
The work undertaken at Nottingham will use two demonstration sites: the first is the state-of-the-art FlexElec laboratory, located at the University of Nottingham Energy Technologies Building; the second is the Meadows, a mostly residential community just outside Nottingham city centre.
The FlexElec Laboratory
The FlexElec laboratory, located within the Energy Technologies Building at the University of Nottingham provides world leading experimental facility to support research into future electricity distribution system (Smart Grids).
Facilities at the laboratory include a 1MW connection to the electricity supply utility which can be interfaced to a variety of power supplies and electro-chemical storage technologies. The lab provides the capability to created isolated electricity networks (microgrids). Equipment in the laboratory can be used to replicate a wide range of load profiles (eg house/factory) and also generation systems (solar panel/wind turbine). By emulating real energy and power profiles in the laboratory, we can test equipment and refine community energy storage control and communication algorithms before deploying them at the Meadows site.
The Meadows community
The Meadows is a community centrally located on the south side of Nottingham city centre, in close proximity to both the railway station and to the River Trent. It was originally a large area of wetland that was drained and gradually developed for a variety of uses, incorporating terraced housing, public houses, factories, warehouses and public buildings such as libraries and swimming baths. The Meadows is a mostly residential community, which is centrally located for access to the city centre, rail station, nearby green spaces and the river. There is a tight community structure in the Meadows and a high level of community cohesion.
Working with Mozes (Meadows Ozone Energy Services Ltd) we will identify up to 40 houses within this area where we can install energy monitoring sensors and battery energy storage systems as part of the SENSIBLE project. We will work with householders to monitor and control the use of electricity using the batteries. As well as understanding the technical challenges (best control algorithm, maintaining stable operation of the system) we will also work with the community to understand how the householders interact with accept these new technologies, and whether attitudes change over the duration of the project.