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£102.5 million demonstrator programme aims to jump-start UK's energy revolution

Four demonstrator projects have been chosen, which aim to show how businesses can develop local smart energy approaches at scale and create better outcomes for consumers.

Demonstrators aim to spark an energy transformation in the UK
Demonstrators aim to spark an energy transformation in the UK

A virtual energy system that links together local electricity, transport and heat networks, and an energy management hub that works across council, private and commercial properties as well as transport infrastructure, are among projects chosen for a UK smart energy demonstrator programme.


The £102.5 million Prospering from the Energy Revolution Challenge, part of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge, aims to develop cutting-edge capabilities in local systems that deliver cleaner, cheaper and more resilient energy for consumers.


Scaling up local programmes


The demonstrator companies will show how businesses can develop local energy approaches at scale that will create better outcomes for consumers and promote economic growth for the UK. By the early 2020s, they aim to prove that smarter local energy systems can deliver cleaner and cheaper energy services.


“We are at the start of a green revolution as we move to more digital, data-driven smart systems that will bring us cleaner and cheaper energy,” said Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry.


“These projects, backed by government funding, are set to spark a transformation and change the way we interact with energy for the better as part of our modern Industrial Strategy. This is tomorrow’s world, today.”


The four demonstrator projects are:


The Energy Superhub Oxford

Project lead: Pivot Power LLP; consortia: Habitat Energy Limited, Kensa, Oxford City Council, RedT Energy, University of Oxford.


The project entails installation of the world’s first transmission-connected lithium ion and redox-flow hybrid battery. The team reports that 41 other UK locations have already been identified as potential sites for replication.


A network of 320 ground source heat pumps will target social housing premises and operate smart controls with community engagement.


Cloud-hosted software and AI-powered software will take an algorithmic approach to forecasting and energy demand/supply optimisation, management of battery degradation.


ReFLEX Orkney

Project lead: European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC); consortia: Aquatera, Community Energy Scotland, Doosan-Babcock, Heriot-Watt University, Orkney Islands Council, Solo Energy.


The ReFLEX (Responsive Flexibility) Orkney project will demonstrate a first-of-its-kind virtual energy system (VES) interlinking local electricity, transport, and heat networks into one controllable, overarching system. The project aims to create a ‘smart energy island’, demonstrating the energy system of the future, which will reduce and eventually eliminate the need for fossil fuels.


Orkney has high levels of renewable penetration relative to the rest of the UK, but struggles to maximise usage of this generation amid limited grid capacity. While there is no shortage of renewable generation assets in Orkney, demand-side flexibility assets are only now developing and the ReFLEX project will deliver an extensive new pool of flexible demand technologies at regional scale, including domestic and large-scale batteries, vehicle-to-grid chargers, electric vehicles, flexible heating systems.

“We are at the start of a green revolution as we move to more digital, data-driven smart systems that will bring us cleaner and cheaper energy”

Project Leo (Local Energy Oxfordshire)

Project lead: Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks; consortia: EDF Energy, Nuuve, Open Utility, Origami Energy, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, The Low Carbon Hub CIC. and Oxford University.


Project LEO will take a Distribution System Operator approach to implementing new energy projects across the city, and to facilitate future forecasting and planning.


A local energy marketplace will be created which will enable virtual aggregation of loads and the ability to dispatch flexibility across a range of projects, as well as execute local peer-to-peer trading. A data interface with the DSO will enable better active network management and visibility/forecasting of local constraints.


The project takes a community-centric approach and has a large portfolio of low carbon energy projects which could be on-boarding to the distribution network.


Smart Hub SLES

Project lead: Cloud Infinity Projects; consortia: Connected Energy, Flexitricity, Honda Motor Europe, ITM Power, ICAX, Moixa Technology, Passiv- Systems, Switch2 Energy, The Carbon and Energy Fund, West Sussex County Council.


Smart Hubs SLES will be demonstrated in West Sussex and the project will integrate energy management across council housing, private residential properties, transport infrastructure and commercial properties.


The proposed project will deploy a number of innovative technologies (a hybrid hydrogen/electric vehicle filling station and mesh networks for power management) alongside more established but not widely deployed technologies such as heat networks.


A virtual power plant will be established by integrating several platforms which can dynamically monitor and respond to energy demand and generation.


The funding is awarded by UK Research and Innovation, the new organisation that brings together the UK Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England into a single organisation.


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