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£21 million awarded for local smart energy ‘blueprint’ projects in the UK

The government says the projects could see over 250,000 people’s homes powered by local renewable sources by 2030 – which could lead to their energy bills reducing by as much as half.


The UK government has announced a £21 million investment for 10 smart energy projects across the UK to move into the demonstration phase. They will trial new technologies which ministers say could form a “blueprint for greener localised energy generation” and help to meet the government’s 2050 net-zero emissions target.

The awards are part of a £90 million package to tackle emissions from homes and heavy industry. This incorporates £70 million towards developing hydrogen technology, including funding for Europe’s first hydrogen plants, which the government says could generate enough clean energy to heat over 200,000 homes.


The local smart energy awards will be administered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) following its Prospering from the Energy Revolution challenge.


Ministers say the new technologies being trialled could form a “blueprint for greener localised energy generation” and help to meet the government’s 2050 net-zero emissions target.


The projects could see over 250,000 people’s homes powered by local renewable sources by 2030 – which could cut energy bills by up to half, according to government projections.


The competition winners include:

  • Zero Carbon Rugeley: to deliver a detailed design of a smart local energy system for Rugeley Town and its local area, including the 2,300 houses being built at the former ENGIE Rugeley Power Station site.
  • Peterborough Integrated Renewables Infrastructure (PIRI): by integrating electrification, mobility and heat provision, the design aims to maximise low-carbon energy use, accelerate low-carbon technology adoption and enhance the overarching energy system, providing a solution that can be fully replicated in other areas.
  • REWIRE-NW: using 5G and data, the project aims to cut costs and emissions.
  • Project REMeD: will develop the Horizontally Integrated Vertical Energy Systems (HIVES) approach to produce a local energy system design which covers the whole of Southend and is replicable across the UK.
  • Milford Haven Energy Kingdom: will focus on developing diverse, local seed markets to support the transition to hydrogen and renewables from fossil fuels. The funding will also allow the design to be developed to meet the heating and transportation needs of local communities, including local tourism to the area.

Other projects include generating geothermal energy from canals and old coal mineshafts, and a heat network warming homes from the London underground.


Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “Every corner of the UK has a part to play as we eliminate our contribution to climate change entirely by 2050.


“These innovative projects will deliver energy savings and reduce carbon emissions – a win-win for communities and the environment.”


Rob Saunders, Challenge Director, Prospering from the Energy Revolution, UKRI, added: “This innovative project provides new approaches to delivering our net-zero commitments by delivering cleaner, cheaper energy services while creating more prosperous and resilient communities. But as well as their benefits to consumers, this project, as part of the Clean Growth Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge, places UK industry at the forefront of the global shift to clean energy systems and economies.”


Technology components


UKRI has also announced the winners of the Key Technology Components for Local Energy Systems competition. They will share a further £4.5 million of funding to develop technology components that help improve the efficiency of local energy systems.


These winners include technology that enables the charging of electric taxis and private electric vehicles at railway stations from the rail traction power supply; a two-way communications system that will allow network operators to communicate with household equipment to warn it when the local system is under stress and automatically relieve that stress; and a blockchain/AI-based virtual power plant (VPP) that aims to improve the efficiency of local energy systems.


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