Trent Basin project could provide low-carbon model for the future

TRent BAsin

The Energy Research Accelerator and the University of Nottingham are leading the Trent Basin community energy initiative that could become a model for low-carbon energy solutions at homes across the UK.

Trent Basin in Nottingham, which current comprises 45 homes, is preparing to install Europe’s largest community battery (2MWh), and solar photovoltaics that will generate, store and distribute energy at a neighbourhood level, and launch a unique energy company for residents.

Business, government and academic partners have come together, supported by Innovate UK, to pilot state-of-the-art technologies and unique business models. The Trent Basin model will demonstrate how to lower cost and reduce carbon whilst allowing residents to better engage with the energy they consume.

Homeowners at Trent Basin will be invited to participate in the project and, by opting in, will look to make significant savings in energy costs. Technologies to be employed include photovoltaic panels, communal battery and heat stores and ground source heat pumps.

The project, which involves groundbreaking research, technology and installation, is being supported by £6m of grant funding from Innovate UK via two energy programmes – the Energy Research Accelerator and Project Sustainable Community Energy Networks.

The partners that have come together to deliver the scheme includes developers Blueprint, the University of Nottingham, AT Kearney, Smartklub, Siemens, URBED, Slam Jam, Sticky World, Loughborough University, Solar Ready and supported by Nottingham City Council.

Gordon Waddington, Chief Executive of the Energy Research Accelerator, said: “One of the great issues of our time is to try and make enough clean energy quickly and cheaply. This is a global issue, and perhaps the greatest technical challenge we face. The aim of ERA is to bring together expertise to demonstrate what can be done through thinking and working innovatively and collaboratively.

“The Community Energy demonstrator at Trent Basin is a great example of how existing technologies can be used to enable communities to significantly reduce their reliance on non-renewable energy sources.”

The Community Energy project is being developed by industry and an academic team headed up by Professor Mark Gillott, Professor of Sustainable Building Design, Faculty of Engineering, at the University of Nottingham. Professor Gillott is leading the University of Nottingham’s research programme at the Trent Basin. He said: “This home-grown smart technology will have a huge impact on the UK’s energy sector for decades to come and home owners will feel the benefits in their pockets with cheaper energy bills. Our aim is to make it commercially viable which will increase the take up of the technology and revolutionise the energy sector.

“We need a mind shift away from personalised household energy generation, storage and use to larger community schemes that provide greater efficiencies and cost savings.”

Councillor Alan Clark, Portfolio Holder for Energy & Sustainability at Nottingham City Council, said: “I am delighted that Nottingham has been chosen to pilot this innovative scheme. This highlights that the city is at the cutting edge of energy innovation, having the right people and infrastructure to get these types of projects off the ground. This growth in community renewable energy will help to sustain our status as the most energy self-sufficient city in the UK.”

Trent Basin will grow through five phases to create a new neighbourhood of 500 homes. Subsequent investment will include ground source heat pumps which will generate heat for local storage, distribution and use. Clean, green energy for the pumps will be sourced from the photovoltaic panels and community battery.