A smart city pilot scheme in Oxford has been given the green light to proceed following COVID-19 lockdown delays.
The recommencement of the smart renewable heating project sees housing provider Stonewater collaborate with Kensa Contracting and Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) on a 60-home trial.
Drilling works have recommenced to prepare Stonewater residents in Blackbird Leys for a pioneering smart renewable heating system trial, which will provide a demonstration for how decarbonisation of heating using ground source heat pumps can interact with local energy systems.
The trial will integrate individual Kensa Shoebox ground source heat pumps inside each property with Switchee heating controls.
In addition, Kensa’s heat optimisation software will aim to take day-ahead forecast half hourly electricity costs and automatically shift the operating times to enable the occupants to make savings from dynamic tariffs without having to change their behaviour.
The residents at Blackbird Leys will be the first in the UK to experience a smart heating system of this kind.
The heating system is expected to save residents 3,520 tonnes of CO2 over their lifetime and cut night storage heating bills to levels lower than that of mains gas – without adding strain to the UK’s electricity grid.
Zero-carbon by 2050
Adam Masters, Sustainability project manager at Stonewater, said: “The latest IPPR report found that at least 12 million homes in England need to be fitted with heat pumps and new energy efficiency measures if the UK is to meet its net zero targets by 2050, and lift thousands of households out of fuel poverty.
“Through this project, we’re demonstrating how housing providers can not only work towards a more sustainable future, but an economical one for their customers too and we’re pleased that work at this particular housing scheme has been able to recommence.”
The 60-home trial forms part of the Innovate UK funded ESO world-first smart city scheme in Oxford, which in addition to smart heating systems, features a high voltage transmission network shared by a hybrid battery and private wire network to support targeted, mass-scale, rapid electric-vehicle charging.
ESO’s trial for integrated power, heat, and transport is hoped to eliminate 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year by 2021 – the equivalent of taking 2,000 cars off the road.
Kensa hopes its smart heating trial in Oxford will demonstrate the benefits of the electrification and decarbonisation of integrated heat, power, and transport, critical if the UK is to deliver the recommended 300,000 heat pumps every year to meet the UK’s net zero carbon targets by 2050.
“An elegant advantage of this smart city heating approach is we can manage the running times of heat pumps on mass depending on the desired outcomes,” explains Dr Matthew Trewhella, managing director at Kensa Contracting.
“In this project we have chosen to prioritise running costs.”
“For greater carbon savings, you could switch the priority to carbon, or to grid management to stabilise voltages. All outcomes offer all benefits to some degree, but in different ratios depending on the priority.
“Here we are trying to fix the problem of electricity demand that is going to exist in five years’ time as the UK migrates to low-carbon electrical heating systems over fossil fuels and electric vehicles.”
Main image: Aerial view of Oxford, Oxfordshire