Historically, energy was generated in large power stations and distributed through national networks through. But as we move away from fossil fuels, large power stations are likely to be replaced as the being the main sources of electricity by localised power plants generating energy from municipal waste or the development of district heating systems or the use of local renewable technologies. Opportunities therefore exist for more efficient planning and management of energy provision to address needs at the local and regional level.
A group of partners led by West Midlands Combined Authority and including Coventry City Council, the Universities of Warwick and Birmingham and others, has been granted over £2 million by UK Research and Innovation to run the West Midlands Regional Energy System Operator (RESO) project. This will run from January 2020 to December 2021, and aims to:
- Design a smart local energy system for the city of Coventry, specifying an energy infrastructure vision for the city, suitable to meet future energy demands for power, heat and transport up to 2050
- Set out an operating model for this design
- Demonstrate the institutional and organisational framework necessary to secure and support the long-term investment required.
Local Smart Energy System
A local energy system moves away from a traditional large power station approach and takes advantage of the large detailed data flows supported by superfast digital networks. This allows thousands of small energy interactions between all the components to balance and optimise local energy flows. If the local energy system design is successful, it should avoid the need for expensive infrastructure upgrades as the energy flows will be managed at a local level. This localised approach is already being developed at a campus scale at Warwick University. The RESO project seeks to understand whether it can be applied at a larger scale with multiple customers, with the city of Coventry leading the way to become the first of its kind. A critical part of the project’s development is how to incentivise multi-levelled participation in a fully integrated local energy system, from individual householders and small businesses to large scale renewable generators.
The system designed will include local low carbon energy generation, storage and management and will integrate future mobility assets such as electric vehicles into its overall envelope. Those involved in the development of the project are ensuring that the approach will be replicable so that the benefits can be translated more widely into other city and suburban areas.
Coventry City Council: https://www.coventry.gov.uk/reso
University of Warwick: https://warwick.ac.uk/research/priorities/energy-grp/research/hp-contents/reso/
Western Power Distribution: https://www.westernpower.co.uk/innovation/projects/regional-energy-systems-operator-reso-project
UK Research & Innovation: https://gtr.ukri.org/projects?ref=105842