Tag Archives: grant

ADI for the development of next generation virtual power plants

The Technology Strategy Board, the UK Government’s innovation agency, awarded their match-funded grant to a consortium set up by technology innovation firm the Advanced Digital Institute (ADI). This consortium included industry partners  such as ENER-G, Flexitricity, Smarter Grid Solutions and UK Power Networks. ADI is based in Saltaire, employs 12 staff, and has a customer range from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to corporates. They aim to help digital technology companies innovate.

The £100,000-worth of funding has been won by a project led by ADI to explore the development of “the next generation of virtual power plants”. These centrally-controlled plants will use clusters of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, small-scale generating capabilities at locations such as hospital and business parks, to bolster supply when they are not operating at capacity. The big idea behind this is that they want to help meet peaks in energy demand.

John Eaglesham, chief executive of ADI and managing the initiative, said that ADI s very excited to work together with some of the UK’s key smart grid industry players in addressing the challenge of future energy supply. The project will shore up electricity supply and they will also examine new solutions for low carbon and low cost heat distribution. This could incentivize the UK CHP industry to provide more CHPs in areas where current UK Government incentives have fallen short.

Dave Harson, programme manager at ADI, added to this that this is a completely new business area for ADI. So it’s also quite exciting for them to work in this area where they haven’t previously done any research in.

The feasibility study of ADI will try to find new ways of increasing overall security and efficiency of the electricity system, and decarbonising energy supplies across the UK as demand increases.  The study is scheduled for completion in May 2013.

Mr Harson also said that these assets are already around, they already exist anyway. So we need to tap into those and use them, use that capacity, so we don’t have to invest in other carbon-generating capacities to meet the demand. ADI will also include a large number smaller-scale CHP generators into a virtual power plant because they want to achieve “improves flexibility and greater load-balancing potential to improve resilience of supply and potentially reduce the need to large utility projects”.

Up until 2010, ADI used to receive public sector funding from Yorkshire Forward. But Harson said that business is good for the moment and ADI is now operating independently of any of that type of grant money. The grant they receive from their key partner the Technology Strategy Board is one to fund specific projects, as well as doing commercial work with other customers.

Chris Marsland, technical director at ENER-G, said that the project will investigate the feasibility of using networks of CHP generators to complement and reduce the need for reinforcement of the electricity network. The benefits of this could include greater use of clean electricity supplies, reduced domestic heating costs and less need for electricity infrastructure investments. So the project will benefit the industry and the consumers alike, while reducing carbon emissions.

The project will perform business and technical modeling based on data from UK Power Networks’s London electricity network. They use ENER-G CHP generator and software and a central control system provided by Smarter Grid Solutions. UK Power Network is also leading Low carbon London, a £30m programme that’s largely funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund, to help develop smart electricity networks in Britain.

Future Cities Demonstrator competition

Local authorities of urban areas with a population of at least 125,000 in the UK can enter the Future Cities Demonstrator competition. This is a design competition to hunt for ideas for “future cities”. The UK government launched this competition worth £24 million and it’s funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). The aim is to improve the overall quality of life for people living in the city. And they want to do this with unique and functional methods of integrating city systems in an environmentally-sound and economical way. So, this calls for large-scale designs.

There are lots of things that local authorities should consider when they think about these future cities. Transport, communication and waste management are just a handful of the systems that have to be put in a proposal for the future city.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive at TSB, said that in the future, efficient, attractive and resilient cities need to be delivered. So there will be a large market for innovative approaches. TSB is well positioned to exploit the growing market since they have world-leading companies in areas such as project management, engineering, architecture, energy and transport systems, communications and the digital economy.

When local authorities enter the competition, they can win one of the 20 grants of £50,000. These grants can be used to further demonstrate and develop the ideas they entered. And one of these twenty grants is a £24 million award for the final proposal.

The government hopes that the programme will give multinationals and homegrown SME’s an incentive to work together with cities and to start debates to create more efficient and integrated systems and products. The debate is already going on, with University College London, Imperial College and Cisco announcing in 2011 that they would open a Future Cities Centre in east London’s Tech City. And TSB  also announced earlier this year that they will launch the Future Cities Catapult, a technology research centre focusing on innovative city planning and supporting businesses in the field.

So the competition gives cities and businesses the change to test innovative ideas and see the results of their ideas sooner than they might have thought.

Who will be the showcase smart city for the UK?

As the smart city idea becomes increasingly important in the eyes of the world, the United Kingdom is on the look-out for one city to become its showcase for the technology. The  Future Cities Demonstrator project wished to invest £25 million in the integrated city systems marketing with an aim of demonstrating how transport, communications and other items of city infrastructure can be integrated to improve quality of life, the local economy and to reduce the impact on the environment.

Around twenty cities, Liverpool included, will be competing for the grant. Smaller grants of £50,000 are being given to run feasibility studies and produce proposals as to how the new technology will be integrated into their city. Ultimately only one city will gain the prize grant money needed to carry out their plan.

Cities globally face massive problems in terms of congestion, waste, pressure on resources and changes in population and demographics.  The Smart Cities initiative aims to reduce all of these areas through the use of technology. For now, the question is, who will lead the UK on this venture?

Birmingham gets EU funds for ultra-fast broadband network

Birmingham is setting up an ultra-fast broadband network. This project is part of the government’s ‘super-connected cities’ competition. The aim of this competition is to construct high speed networks in ten UK cities and using the £100 million in funding that is available.

The project is also receiving a £4.8 million grant state aid from the European Commission since they found that the project is in line with EU state aid rules and it will be genuinely open to all operators and therefore promote competition.

The EU has Broadband Guidelines, and one of the reasons they granted this state aid to Birmingham is because their project is in some aspects exceeding the minimum requirements of these EU guidelines. The EU minimum to grant open access to alternative operators is only seven years, but Birmingham will be granting this open access for at least 25 years.

Joaquin Almunia, Vice President of the European Commission and Commisioner responsible for competition,  said that it’s important to promote growth in line with EU’s Digital Agenda, and investments in ultra-fast broadband networks contribute to this. So another reason why Birmingham is getting the state aid is because their network was designed in a competitive manner.

The network will be available on a wholesale basis, which ensures more competition at retail level. Most of the time, these networks are built with the help of taxpayers’ money, so it is important that there is a thriving competition on the subsidized networks. Local businesses and citizens should be able to benefit from continuously improving broadband services at competitive prices.

There are two districts in Birmingham where private operators have no or limited investments plans in the next few years. This means that consumers would only be able to use basic broadband services or expensive leased line business services. Because of this, Birmingham will target theses areas with their new network. It will also offer some significant enhanced technological characteristics when you compare the network to other existing networks. These technologies are expected to meet demands from SME’s, especially those in the creative industries.

In addition to the £100 million that Birmingham wants to invest in this super-fast broadband network, they have announced plans to invest the same amount of money in a public Wi-Fi network in the city which would make use of infrastructures in the city like tower blocks or lampposts.

Europe’s Smart City Initiative

Last year, Europe has set up an Initiative on Smart Cities. The Initiative fosters the dissemination throughout Europe of the most efficient models and strategies to progress towards a low carbon future. European countries should be progressing towards the energy and climate objectives at a local level while maintaining or improving the quality of live. Investments in energy efficiency and reduction of carbon emission can be used to improve local economies.

The Initiative wants a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (with start year 1990), which is very ambitious. This reductions can be obtained by using and producing sustainable energy. The Initiative will support cities and regions in creating a systematic approach and organizational innovation to encompass energy efficiency, low carbon technologies and the smart management of supply and demand. The main components of the Initiative is the measures of buildings, local energy networks and transport. Local authorities have to propose and implement holistic problem-solving approaches that use appropriate technology and policy measures.

Things that have to been done is for example the refurbishment of existing buildings so they use as less energy as possible while increasing performances and comfort. A good example of these sort of buildings are passive buildings, using vacuum insulation, windows, cool roofs,… New buildings have to be build with zero energy requirements or net zero carbon emissions.

In terms of energy, smart grids, smart meters, energy management systems, smart appliances and equipments can be used. And when thinking about transport, we think about sustainable mobility. Advanced smart public transport, intelligent traffic management and more encouragements to walk and cycle.

And all these objectives have to be turned into actions. The Initiative helps with this according to a city’s ambitions and the risk that’s involved. So ambitious cities could get funding for technical assistance to facilitate access to loans and risk sharing loans. And pioneer cities, taking much greater risks because they use radical technology and organizational transformations, could in addition receive grants to support the implementation of the proposed package of technologies and measures.

For more information about the Initiative, its objectives and the actions that will be taken: http://setis.ec.europa.eu/about-setis/technology-roadmap/european-initiative-on-smart-cities