TransportKTN is helping promote the currently open TSB competition Localised energy systems - a cross-sector approach, which is to invest up to £11m in a programme of collaborative research and development to stimulate innovation in localised energy systems.
Up to £9.5m is available from the Technology Strategy Board (for business-led solutions) and up to a further £1.5m is available from EPSRC to support academic partners contributing to the energy sector aspects of projects.
Details of the competition, information day and networking events included in the Energy Efficiency section of Transport KTN's site, and we wish to draw your attention to the short notice required to register for Localised Energy Systems Competition Briefing & Consortium Building event at SS Great Britain on Thursday 30 January.
Further background and case studies will be on offer at the event next week; expect to see TSB and EPSRC highlight opportunities for businesses to develop new products, services, and solutions in and across the energy, built environment, transport and digital sectors.
Smart energy systems to UK companies will be worth £3-5bn by 2020
Citing surveys by Navigant and Bloomberg, TSB suggests that the market for smart energy systems to UK companies will be worth £3-5bn by 2020 and that the growth rate in the UK is 10% and in the EU 30%.
The scope of the competition is pretty broad, as the TSB want to encourage solutions that bring disparate buildings and energy users together to benefit from shared energy infrastructure and services.
Projects that focus on individual technology development alone or projects that focus on energy efficiency measures for buildings or individual building management systems technologies are out of scope of the competition, as these are covered through the TSB low impact buildings programme.
Where can transport fit into the competition?
The obvious areas where our constituency can input into the competition could be in rail or electric vehicles solutions for balancing electric vehicle demands on the grid.
With imagination, solutions may also emerge from the power supply side, as issues affecting transport and the grid become more related.
My Electric Avenue - testing an EV charge control system to balance out the charging cycles
The market for electric vehicles is growing fast in percentage terms but from a minuscule base, so predicting demand for energy use of such vehicles, with decades long lead times the norm for electricity infrastructure is a headache for both the demand and supply side.
A subsidiary of the power company SSE and Ofgem are currently testing a proposed method for mitigating the impact of concentrated charging requirements in small areas due to electric vehicles.
The My Electric Avenue is led by EA Technology and Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD). Together with other partners under the Ofgem Low Carbon Networks (LCN) funded project is testing an EV charge control system to balance out the charging cycles of EVs at times of network stress.
Seven clusters are so far taking part in ‘Technical Trials’ as announced in November 2013, in Chiswick, Marlow, South Gosforth, South Shields, Wylam, Chineham and Whiteley.
My Electric Avenue's Social Trials programme offers participants in confined localities to lease a new 100% electric Nissan LEAF at a negotiated rate for 18 months in return for the data on usage and how it pressurises neighbourhood supplies of electricity.
EA Technology's monitoring and control technology is claimed to delay, and in some cases avoid, the need for additional electrical infrastructure - which would be costly and disruptive, as well as taking significant time - to accommodate the forecast increase demand from Electric Vehicles.
The My Electric Avenue website says there's been no other UK trials to address the issue of future network overload.
South Electric Power Distribution (SEPD), as announced this week, has also been awarded £8.3m in funding from Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund for its Solent Achieving Value from Efficiency (SAVE) project.
The Solent-based project will be led by SEPD and partners at the University of Southampton, DNV GL and Wireless Maingate, focusing on new energy efficiency technologies to local domestic customers to trial in their homes, as well as incentives for making long-term changes to their energy usage behaviour.
The secret's in the Black Box
The incumbent electrical distribution companies may consider the potential for sudden increased demand from EVs a concern, but low carbon vehicles are a natural fit for the upstarts in the green energy sector. The marketing potential of bringing on board EV owners into the fold is likely to add to their appeal, that has mostly been based on appeal of the source of their supply.
It makes sense to reinforce the connection.
Indeed, Ecotricity, the largest in this sector, announced that last year that they will be launching a promotional tie-in with Volkswagen to promote renewable electricity supply to owners of Volkswagen's soon-to-be-launched e-up! city car, with orders being taken in November and the first deliveries announced for this month.
Ecotricity has also helped with EV infrastructure with its Ecotricity Electric Highway, a national network of charge points – making it easier for electric vehicle owners to make long distance journeys.
On it's website, Ecotricity also provides some details (and some teasers) about what it calls its Eco Lab... "And so we have our Eco Lab – the place where we research and develop new ideas for the production and use of Energy – in the three big sectors. Projects include the Nemesis (a wind powered supercar), Ion Horse (an electric bike) and Greenbird (a wind powered land speed attempt) - plus technology for generating electricity such as the Urbine (a vertical axis turbine) and the Snapper (a collaborative project in wave technology).
There's also something named the Black Box – which is, apparently, "a very smart idea that could change the way we use energy and the way the grid works."
The project page merely shows a graphic of a black box, and a teaser with no more detail that saying it's "a research project that has the potential to change the way we use electricity".
Disrupting the 'big six'
Ecotricity was this week named equal first supplier in the annual Which? energy company survey of consumer satisfaction.
The consumer magazine said the Gloucestershire-based firm was also one of only two energy companies to improve their score compared to last year, as consumer satisfaction across the industry plummeted and the Big Six yet again fared worse than the smaller suppliers.
The joint top spot is held (for a third year running) by another sustainable electricity supplier Good Energy, based in Chippenham.
Good Energy was founded by Juliet Davenport in 2003, originally to make a difference to climate change, but has evolved as a company to "create a blueprint...for the UK to disrupt the energy system ... by creating a marketplace that can support local generators delivering to local customers".
Disruption will be pushing against against an open door as far as consumers are concerned as Which? also said that its latest consumer satisfaction survey of energy companies is one of the lowest average scores for consumer satisfaction out of all the satisfaction surveys across its range of products and sectors it covers.
Electric Vehicles and the grid, there's a connection
With an even greater crisis in its electricity supply infrastructure, unsurprisingly perhaps, Japanese car makers are taking a lead in thinking about making best use of their customers' hard earned electrons.
Nissan Leaf - EVs as power sources for living
As the leading supplier of family sized electric cars, in 2011 Nissan described publicised its “Vehicle to Home” system, that allows Leaf owners to reverse the polarity, to supply a home with the energy stored in a Nissan LEAF’s battery.
"By charging up a Nissan LEAF at night when there is more capacity for electrical supply and then using that electricity as the daytime power source for a household, the system helps alleviate consumption of power in peak periods when demand is highest. Further, it can also be leveraged as backup power supply for emergencies."
Household power can be supplied from a Nissan LEAF lithium-ion battery by installing a proprietary PCS (Power Control System) connected to the household’s distribution board, while plugged into the Nissan LEAF DC quick charge port. Further, through the PCS, a Nissan LEAF vehicle can also be charged from the household power supply.
To use the electricity stored in the Nissan LEAF lithium-ion battery as household power it is necessary to convert the DC high-voltage electricity to 200V AC. When charging the Nissan LEAF battery it is then necessary to convert 200V AC electricity to DC high-voltage power. The PCS handles the electrical conversion and control of the amount of power supply. Nissan claims the LEAF EV lithium-ion battery has large enough capacity and reliability, enough to provide a stable power supply.
Toyota's Smart Grid vision
With the Prius, and now the Auris models, Toyota is the leading manufacturer of hybrid electric cars worldwide. Recently it announced that its FCV fuel cell vehicle that made its debut appearance at the Tokyo Motor Show in November 2013, will go on sale next year. The Toyota FCV hydrogen fuel cell hybrid shown off at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this month, promoted as having the duel benefit of a zero Carbon emission maximum range of 300 miles and the possibility of powering, by itself, a normal home - and for longer than the power supply interruptions experienced due to the storms knocking out power lines in parts of the UK over Christmas.
In addition to a 300 miles range on a single fill-up of hydrogen, the FCV has a zero to 62mph time of around 10 seconds and a top speed of 100mph – in other words, it’s a regular car, except for the fact that it emits only water when driving.
Better still, said Toyota at CES, it could provide an answer to keeping the lights on when power cuts strike, as its electric motor can produce more than 100kW and, with a full tank of hydrogen fuel, could generate enough energy to power a regular home for a week.
The company said that engineers are currently researching an external power supply device that could be used with the car to provide a safe and simple domestic connection.
Toyota has also developed a concept it calls the Smart Grid as "wider use of environment-friendly, next generation vehicles is essential for the realization of a low-carbon society, but on the other hand, proper control of the infrastructure associated with power demand of vehicle recharging is also necessary."
What is the Toyota Smart Center?
Toyota's vision for control of the car charging infrastructure is one built around smart IT systems that considers the car as one aspect of the consumer's lifestyle, encompassing smart use of all uses of energy in the home, that is also a part of a larger community of similarly equipped smart homes. Its Smart Center concept therefore links homes, vehicles, electric power companies and users to enable integrated control of energy consumption.
The system also takes account Home Energy Management System (HEMS) that, they predict, will commonly control home electricity supply/demand, the electricity supplied by the power company, as well as the electricity generated by the houses, thus making external control possible.
Toyota said the system "collates information transmitted from a household-linked PHV or EV regarding remaining vehicle battery charge, household power consumption information transmitted by the HEMS, weather forecast data and charge-rate information for specific time segments from the power company. Thereby coordinating vehicle recharging and household energy consumption with an aim to minimise CO2 emissions and reduce electricity costs."
"With a smart phone, users will be able to remotely monitor and adjust home power usage, control the air conditioning and hot water supply."
A smart house, as Toyota envision it, is also expected to have the capability of efficiently controlling generated solar energy and power consumption making it ideal for vehicle power supply and management.
Will smart metering lead to smarter grids?
So, it's foreseeable that a smart mix of technologies are likely to be required to mitigate predicted demand stresses on the UK's power infrastructure due to electric vehicles and other increased demands.
But what if we could turn the problem around, from thinking of battery powered vehicles being necessarily a drain on demand into an opportunity to enhance the resilience of the grid?
Could the electric vehicle offer win-win scenarios for consumers as well as electricity suppliers?
Steven Harris - architect and entrepreneur - is promoting such imaginative solutions, through his company Energence, as well as blogging on the issue for Energy Saving Trust.
Steven was Technical Director of the architectural practice ZEDfactory, which built the multi-award winning Zero Carbon Development BedZED in 2000 and a contributing author of ‘The ZED book’. He was also a Senior Lecturer in Environment and Energy at the University of East London School of Architecture.
He and his wife live in a zero-carbon family house they designed and built themselves.
Energence offers smart metering for monitoring the output of domestic and commercial solar photo-voltaic installations, critical for selling electricity back to energy companies under the Government's Feed in Tarrif (FIT). But Steven's vision is enable trading of excess electricity, and not necessarily just from, strictly, renewable local generation.
The FIT scheme is designed encourage the growth of the renewable energy supply industry, but the mechanisms are almost entirely financial and crudely implemented technically.
In fact the FIT, somewhat bizarrely, pays for the amount of electricity generated regardless of how much is exported to the grid. So it could be said the FIT systems encourages unnecessary usage of this energy, as it's free to use for the producer. Steven's suggestion is to instead extract more value from local generation by, instead of unnecessarily usage, to use it is charging batteries, which in the car could be used for travel, but alternatively could, if the right smart meter were commercialised, be sold (exported to the grid) at a premium price at times of peak demand.
This may at first glance seem an abuse of the FIT system, but what is proposed is strictly a commercial relationship between consumer and electricity supplier, outside the FIT scheme.
A consumer/producer could, potentially, charge form whatever source so long as it is cheap enough during an off-peak period; stores the energy efficiently enough; and exports or sells it back to the grid at a premium.
It would all depend on the marginal profit on offer, after energy losses are factored in.
But the effect could be the consumer wins by making a marginal profit off their car battery and the power companies win by having a more resilient network, with greater reserves at peak times, and perhaps save the cost of building another Dinorwig.
The problem with the idea is that it's currently impossible. Not because of a technical barrier but because there's no business case in the UK to encourage it, since no mechanism for exporting "non-renewable" sourced electricity is offered.
According to Steven, "I see such a market, if it could be set up, as functioning as a 'load balancing' for the supply network."
Google might be thinking of doing something having just bought Nest for $3.2BN
"There's a lot going on this area. The Swiss company Tritec sells a solar power storage solutions as 'the next big step towards an independent energy supply' but they don't market their products in the UK."
"Others are wondering what Google might be thinking of doing something having just bought Nest (the smart home energy regulating company) for $3.2BN."
"I can see such a domestic power export system being managed by a smart phone app - perhaps and extension of energy management apps as offered by companies like Tigo Energy."
Investments in smart grid infrastructure in the next decade expected to reach $274.9billion
If and when smart metering becomes commonplace and the consequences accepted, such a market could follow as a natural add-on feature.
According to a blog post on smart metering by Gary Hartley for the Energy Saving More than two thirds of those polled in a recent Accenture study were convinced of the benefits of smart grids, coupled with smart meters in homes and businesses will exceed all industry expectations in terms of customer service, reliability, and the ability to fix problems.
A separate study of emerging markets suggests that 45 countries, including India and China, are to invest $274.9billion in smart grid infrastructure in the next decade – and outperforming developed countries along the way. An "astonishing 523 million smart meters are projected to be installed in these nations by 2023. Certainly some food for thought – and hefty competition – for Europe and America".
"Me and my clever home: an everyday story of the future"
Perhaps more in a spirit of Grand Designs than everyday consumer plug-in solution, Steven Harris's personal vision of a smart home in his Energy Saving Trust blog, starts from the position, "I’m so bored with the term ‘Smart home’ – I’d much rather my home were clever!"
"It would communicate with whoever I traded energy with, telling them how much I bought and sold and when. It would keep track of my energy accounts ledger, recording how much I sold the energy for, and what I bought it in for."
"My energy storage could be a set of second-use (or, as I think they call it, pre-loved) electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Let me explain why this is such a good idea."
"The trouble with EV batteries is that they cost so much (£30,000, for goodness sake!), and their practical life in an EV is only four years or so (gulp!). This means that they have to be leased to drivers rather than sold outright, and even the leasing cost is high."
When an EV battery starts getting old, it may operate at 80% of its useful storage capacity, and may become slightly absentminded in reporting its stored power. While this is a problem in an EV, as it could get you stuck on the roadside, in a non-critical job where all it’s doing is squirreling away some cheap-rate electricity, it would be fine. Being non-critical would also allow the battery management software to protect the health of the battery rather than prioritising range and amenity, as it needs to do in an EV. Installed in a house, the batteries might last many more years."
"That’s what I call clever!"
The Localised Energy Systems competition process
The Localised Energy Systems - A cross-Sector Approach competition represents a fantastic opportunity for businesses to develop new products, services, and solutions in and across the energy, built environment, transport and digital sectors,
Funding will mainly be for industrial research projects in which a business partner will generally attract up to 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). Projects that include cross-sector working will be considered favourably. Expected projects to range in size from total costs of £200k to £2m, although projects outside this range may be considered.
This is a two-stage competition that opens for applicants on 20 January 2014. The deadline for registration is at noon on 12 March 2014 and the deadline for expressions of interest is at noon on 19 March 2014
A briefing event for potential applicants will be held in Bristol - at the SS Great Britain - on Thursday 30 January 2014
To receive more information about the application process for this competition please complete TSB's online form.
A more detailed briefing can be seen on TSB's Localised energy systems - a cross-sector approach competition page.