Energy storage set to invigorate the Isles of Scilly

A £10.8m project on the Isles of Scilly will test how electric vehicles (EVs) and domestic batteries can integrate into low-carbon energy systems that reduce electricity costs and promote the use of renewables.

UK-based smart battery developers Moixa Technologies will integrate platforms for EVs and batteries into an Internet of Things-based (IoT) energy resource management system developed by Hitachi to balance the supply and demand of electricity on the islands as part of the Smart Energy Islands (SEI) project.

Moixa’s chief technology officer Chris Wright said: “Moixa’s role in the SEI project will demonstrate how ordinary people will play a key role in our future energy system. Home batteries and electric vehicles controlled by smart software will help create a reliable, cost-effective, low-carbon energy system that will deliver savings to homeowners and the community.

“Our systems will support the reduction of fuel poverty on the Scilly Isles and support their path to full energy independence. They will be scalable and flexible so they can be replicated easily to allow communities all over the world to cut carbon and benefit from the smart power revolution.”

Although the project, which is backed by an £8.6m investment form the European Regional Development Fund, will not fund EVs and charging points, it will optimise how the batteries in these vehicles can be teamed with learning algorithms to support the energy use of the consumers and balance electricity needs across the islands.

Moixa hopes that the SEI project will develop systems that can be replicated globally, and for the islands it will concentrate on reaching 2025 goals to cut electricity bills by 40%, source 40% of energy demand from renewables and create a 40% share on the transport market for low-emission vehicles – currently there are 1,253 vehicles on the island.

The Isles of Scilly is located 28 miles from the UK mainland and the 2,200 islanders have to import fossil fuels and electricity to meet needs due to a lack of inland gas supply. As a result, 22% of households are affected by fuel poverty.

Moixa and Hitachi hope that the energy management systems will improve fuel standards and increase the share of renewables in the energy mix, which currently sits at 270KW. The SEI project will aim to double this output by installing solar systems at 100 homes – a tenth of the housing stock for the isles – and two 50Kw solar gardens will be developed.

Energy management systems will be installed in the homes fitted with solar and 190 businesses in the area will be fitted with energy monitoring devices. Ten buildings will also test additional smart energy systems such as batteries and air source heat pumps.

Strategic potential

The SEI project was announced on Wednesday (15 March), just one day after a new report from the UK Government outlined that innovative smart technologies linked to the electricity network could contribute around £5bn to the UK economy.

The report offered advice from the Council for Science and Technology on how the Industrial Strategy can deliver a decarbonised grid system while stimulating economic growth.

“Successful innovation in electricity network technologies, including smart technologies and all forms of energy storage, could save the energy system around £4.4bn, support the growth of a UK industry and contribute an estimated £5.1bn to GDP by 2050,” the report notes. “This is a competitive sector although a UK firm, Moixa Technologies, is developing battery systems for homes and businesses.”

The SEI project arrives at a crucial time for Europe’s energy infrastructure. A report from POWER-GEN has warned that European power industry professionals are not confident that the industry is ready to implement energy storage technologies.

Fortunately, the business case for energy storage is slowly being established. edie has covered some of the best energy storage projects across the globe – most of which were installed or agreed in 2016 – which are demonstrating the vast potential that this low-carbon innovation has to offer for the green economy.

Matt Mace

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