Smarter Grid Solutions and its partners have connected four of West Berkshire Council’s sites to the growing network, which will enable them to monitor and analyse the amount of electricity generated.
A pilot project to create a smart energy system in Thames Valley has connected four of West Berkshire Council’s sites to a smart energy platform.
The smart energy platform allows the council to monitor and analyse the amount of solar electricity generated at the sites and to begin planning for its net-zero operations.
Energy resources management system
Solar photo-voltaics (PVs) at each of the four sites – West Berkshire Council’s head office and Northcroft leisure centre in Newbury, the Willink School in Burghfield Common, and Building 150, a warehouse on a former army base – have been linked using Cirrus Flex, a distributed energy resources management system (Derms) created by Glasgow-based energy software specialist Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS).
SGS’s work with both West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council forms part of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (Adept) Smart Places Live Lab programme, a two-year £22.9m project funded by the Department for Transport.
Since going live in 2020, the council claims its head office and Building 150 have generated a combined 122 MWh of electricity – saving the equivalent of 29 tonnes of CO2 and generating enough electricity to power 32 homes for one year.
The council reports it could also use the platform to manage energy use across facilities, which would help cut its carbon dioxide emissions and save money.
Meanwhile, neighbouring Reading Borough Council is already working with SGS to monitor its solar PV and electric vehicle (EV) charging sites, and aims to control, optimise, and interact with wider grid services.
“Being able to see how much energy is being generated by the solar panels across these four sites is extremely useful for planning our energy usage”
The Live Lab’s energy workstream focuses on smart energy management systems for integrated buildings and EV charging to monitor and, where feasible, control energy devices.
The Thames Valley live lab project has recently concluded, and work is underway to explore how the trial can be extended to increase the benefits for local councils of reducing their carbon dioxide emissions and costs, while increasing their energy self-sufficiency.
According to Reading council, the smart energy platform created during the live lab could form the basis to deliver and utilise clean energy for buildings, services, and transport at the lowest cost to local authorities, while meeting their mandatory net-zero targets.
“The analytics dashboard gives us an excellent idea of what power is available and how it’s being used. The next steps are even more exciting – potentially managing power generation and use across the sites and linking that to the bigger picture about how we charge the council’s EVs and deliver services at our facilities.”
“The work in the Thames Valley live lab illustrates that potential in linking together the future needs and opportunities of our buildings and vehicles linked with digital solutions to maximise their potential”
He continued: “Tackling the climate emergency is a priority for West Berkshire Council and working with SGS on the live lab is an important step towards that goal.”
“The work in the Thames Valley live lab illustrates that potential in linking together the future needs and opportunities of our buildings and vehicles linked with digital solutions to maximise their potential,” added Giles Perkins, live labs programme director.
“This link between place, energy, mobility and digital connectivity will be key in use achieving and exceeding net-zero ambitions”
Adept represents local authority, county, unitary and metropolitan directors. The Adept Smart Places Live Labs programme is also supported by project partners SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, O2, Ringway and WSP.
Nine local authorities are working on projects to introduce digital innovation across smart mobility, transport, highways, maintenance, data, energy, and communications. Live labs is part of Adept’s Smart Places programme to support the use of digital technology in place-based services.