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UK Smart Hub Will Enhance Transition to Renewables

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Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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The UK is investing GBP31 million ($42 million) into a new smart hub which will deploy several innovative technologies to facilitate the transition to more renewables on the grid. The technologies include smart grid management, VPPs, DERs and advanced load management.

This is one of four pilots in the government's Innovate UK program. It partners with local businesses to develop replicable, scalable, distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) which will deliver power, heat and mobility more effectively across social housing, transport, infrastructure and private residential and commercial properties.

The plan is to install around 350 smart solar panel and battery systems in social residences, schools, businesses and public sector premises in the south of England. Up to 250 electric vehicle charging points to support the transition to low carbon transport will also be commissioned.

As part of this development, the SmartHubs Virtual Power Plant will use smart grid technology provider Moixa’s GridShare technology to manage the various demand and supply networks of energy systems across transport, heat and power to ensure that loads are balanced and the system will be reliable and cost-effective.

The project will involve several different companies and technologies, in order to evaluate and develop them in readiness for scaling them up if successful. The initial phase will involve five EV charging hubs using removed EV batteries combined with solar panels. These systems will add grid balancing, grid load management and resilience services to the project. This 12 MW system has a total capacity of 14.4 MWh, the equivalent of powering 1,695 average homes for a whole day.

Other systems being deployed include air and water source heat pumps in various locations. A hydrogen facility is being considered. Newcastle University will use AI data management, which will analyze the information acquired to predict and manage the diversity of inputs and outputs in the system, and manage the challenges of integrating the diverse systems employed by the project.

The novel approach in this program is to undertake whole-system approaches at scale in real-world settings. The intention is proof-of-concept so that lessons learned can be applied to the rest of the UK's power generation system.

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