Zero carbon management platform goes live in Thames Valley
The Thames Valley Live Lab – which brings the companies together with engineering consultancy Stantec and six local authorities – will help local authorities to implement their required moves towards net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The project partnership was awarded £4.5 million in 2019 as part of the ADEPT (Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport) SMART Places Live Labs Programme, a two-year £22.9 million project funded by the Department for Transport and supported by project partners SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, O2, Ringway, and WSP. Local authorities are working on eight projects across England 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.
The platform has gone live this month [AUGUST] with energy assets from the first two councils – Reading Borough Council and Wokingham Borough Council – connecting to the system in the coming two months. The platform will monitor and manage solar panels, electric vehicle charging points and other flexible electrical equipment at the local authorities’ facilities. The Live Labs system is based on SGS’s ANM Strata fleet distributed energy resources management system (DERMS) to create the Smart Energy Operations Platform (SEOP).
The cloud-based SEOP will schedule when the assets should be operated to save money, reduce CO2 emissions, and manage local authority owned Distributed Energy Resources (DER) across the sites. Functionalities include setting EV charge rates and being able to remotely schedule building energy usage and EV charging point operation.
Data will also be fed into other parts of the Thames Valley Live Lab project, which cover health, mobility, and transport.
SGS expects the data from the energy component of the project to influence those other important service areas in the Live Lab project.
Graham Ault, executive director and co-founder of SGS, said: “A big challenge lies ahead for local authority energy managers, who will have to plan, implement, and operate net-zero carbon energy in the coming years.
“Our ANM Strata platform provides the basis to manage and track net-zero energy, while underpinning cost savings through better power grid integration and new energy market opportunities including new technical services, network flexibility, and system balancing.
“SGS’s mission is to provide the software systems to address the three Ds of energy systems – decarbonisation, decentralization, and digitalisation.
“This Thames Valley Live Lab brings together all three of those strands, allowing carbon-free electricity generated on-site by solar panels to be controlled and used for emission free transport using digital technology. It is now possible to scale low carbon technology deployments up to really significant levels and capture all the energy and flexibility benefits for a local authority area.”
Simon Beasley, network and parking manager at Reading Borough Council and Live Lab project lead, added: “Having a system that can control when and how solar panels, electric vehicle charging points and other energy assets operate is a game changer.
“We’ll be able to save money, reduce our CO2 emissions, and better manage our energy across our sites.
“The data that will be generated by this part of the project will also play a wider role in improving the lives of people living and working in Reading and the surrounding area.
“Having this rich data on our energy assets will help to influence how we develop the transport, mobility, and even health areas of the Live Lab project and local authority operations thereafter.”
Giles Perkins, Programme Director for Live Labs, said: “This is an exciting development as the links between mobility, energy, and other assets will only get stronger as we transition to an electric future – taking an integrated approach to how we manage these systems is crucial for a sustainable future.”
The four other participating councils – Bracknell Forest Council, the Royal Borough of Windsor, Slough Borough Council, and West Berks Council – will connect assets to the project over the course of the coming year.
News of the Thames Valley Live Lab going live is the latest in string of ANM Strata Fleet DERMS and virtual power station projects for SGS, including its recently-announced partnership with SSE Enterprise, a large community energy flexibility scheme in Oxfordshire and a smart local energy systems design initiative in Peterborough.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
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Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly