The first phase of a project being delivered by Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS), the Glasgow-based energy software specialist, and involving technology giants O2 and Siemens, has gone live.
The Thames Valley Live Lab – which brings the companies together with engineering consultancy Stantec and six councils – will help local authorities move towards net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The project partnership was awarded £4.5m in 2019 as part of the ADEPT (Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport) SMART Places Live Labs Programme, a two-year £22.9m 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 went live this month 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.
‘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,’ said Graham Ault, Executive Director and Co-founder of SGS.
‘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.