05.01.2018

Clean Growth: How one Development is Generating Communal Energy

 

We all know how important it is to find cleaner, greener ways of producing electricity. The energy spent heating our homes makes up almost a third of UK emissions. Alternatives to greenhouse gas emissions are only viable, however, if they are affordable for homeowners and businesses. This makes it doubly hard to find effective solutions to the climate change crisis.  

So, what if we could generate renewable energy and cut costs as a community?

The Nottingham Trent Basin housing development is doing just that. The Project SCENe scheme (Sustainable Community Energy Networks) provides an example of what the future of electricity in our homes could look like. The community energy project uses communal battery stores, solar panels and ground source heat pumps to power homes sustainably.

Generating Communal Energy

The 100m housing development in Nottingham is leading the way on how to live low carbon lifestyles. The first residents moved into the homes in 2016 and subsequent phases of development are now in progress.

The star player at the heart of this scheme is the communal battery powering the buildings, the largest in Europe. The battery stores energy as well as distributing it to homes throughout the development. Any surplus energy created is then sold back to the grid and the profits are shared among residents, lowering their energy bills. 

Transforming the way we heat our homes into a community project makes it more efficient and affordable. It also makes people feel connected to each other and the environment.

The Benefits of the Scheme

Energy efficient buildings make us happier and healthier.

The river side views, modern living areas and green spaces are also a big draw for residents. The project is making use of smart technologies within the newly built homes as part of its sustainability mission. These IoT(Internet of things) technologies make it simpler for residents to see how much energy they are consuming and better able to make informed decisions when it comes to their usage.

Students at the University of Nottingham are working to develop the software to visualise the data coming out of the project to educate homeowners and the general public. This will be available online and at the Community Hub at the Trent Basin development.

Not only is the scheme generating clean, renewable energy, it’s also supporting the local community and providing essential research into the future of energy production.

The Future of the Project

The creators are hoping this trial project will lead to the technology being installed across many UK housing developments in the near future.

The project won ‘Sustainable Development of the Year’ at the East Midlands Bricks Awards in 2018, a good sign of things to come.

By developing a business model template for housing developments of tomorrow, the scheme is paving the way for cleaner energy production in our homes.

The Wider Picture

Since 1990, the UK has cut greenhouse emissions by 42% but we still have a long way to go. The UK government is investing £2.5 billion into low carbon innovation in order to encourage clean growth.

This project, and others like it, are being supported by the Government’s clean growth innovation funding which aims to position the UK as a leader of low carbon technologies to the benefit of society and the environment.

Project SCENe is being funded by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, in conjunction with the University of Nottingham. Discover how Innovate UK fund research and business collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive sustainable change.

Interested in finding out more? Subscribe to Innovate UK’s YouTube channel to take a closer look at the projects they fund to support innovation and the research of new ideas.