BankEnergi: Creating a local energy economy in London's South Bank
The BankEnergi project in south London has received £136,107 from UK Research and Innovation’s £102.5 million Prospering from the Energy Revolution challenge, part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.
BankEnergi will look at ways to manage energy demand and storage in order to enable local trading in ‘virtual power stations’.
A peer-to-peer energy network will allow members to effectively trade energy with each other, creating a local economy and giving users the option to move away from big energy suppliers.
This decentralisation of energy management could help reduce carbon and financial cost within the community. It also means the energy stays local, creating a more efficient system and drive down costs for consumers.
Beyond renewable technology
BankEnergi will use a range of renewable energy sources currently in use such as solar PV and ground source pumps, as well as develop new infrastructure such as re-using heat from the tube network, installing large-scale battery storage, fast electric vehicle charging, and further renewables to enable the trading of this energy at different times of day within the local area.
The innovation, according to project lead, Rajvant Nijjhar, is in the integration of heat, power and envisaged electric vehicle demand in the area coupled with time of day usage:
“What’s innovative is that we’re trading with each other to create a local economy. This allows us to keep the energy cost stable and to hedge against rising cost within the South Bank.”
Necessary carbon reduction
Current estimates from the Mayor of London’s Flex London programme suggest that one gigawatt – one third of Hinkley C nuclear power plant’s projected annual output - of energy savings could be unlocked by 2050 by making buildings more efficient in terms of heat and energy usage.
If targets set out in the government carbon budget are to be met then new efficiencies, such as the BankEnergi project, must be implemented alongside new technologies.
An energy cooperative
Professor Graeme Maidment, professor of refrigeration & air conditioning engineering at London South Bank University, which is part of the BankEnergi consortium, said:
“BankEnergi really uses local energy sources to provide for local users, both domestic and commercial.
“It’s working with the grid, using renewable energy and taking advantage when there’s an abundance of energy to charge electric vehicles (EVs) and store energy for later use at peak times. What we’re doing is maximising the use of renewables and by doing so using the lowest carbon potential and lowering costs.”
BankEnergi is being led by a consortium that includes King’s College London, South Bank Employers’ Group (SBEG), Bouygues Energies & Services, Building Sustainability Services Ltd, Qbots, Consortio Ltd and London South Bank University.
Exporting clean growth
Professor Maidment continued:
“Decarbonisation of heating is a massive opportunity for the UK, in meeting our carbon emission reduction but also in producing low carbon technologies which are not just applicable across the UK but also across the world.
“To start to reduce carbon emissions is easy at the beginning but when you try to really squeeze as much as possible, it becomes much more difficult. You have to be much more imaginative and adventurous and that’s what this project is.”
The future of BankEnergi
The immediate future for the project is to show the feasibility of carbon savings and cost reductions in energy for the community. That will lead to a detailed design, which could result in the BankEnergi model being rolled out to other areas.
The output would then be a design mixing hardware and artificial intelligence software that will manage the energy usage and sharing.