• Low car­bon, smart energy scheme in Peter­bor­ough aims to deliv­er a sig­ni­fic­ant drop in CO2 emis­sions by 2030, while cut­ting energy bills by up to a quarter.
  • Scheme could be rolled out to oth­er UK towns and cit­ies to help UK achieve its Net Zero ambi­tions
  • Pro­ject is being led by Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil, whose part­ners include SSE Enter­prise, Ele­ment Energy, Cran­field Uni­ver­sity, Smarter Grid Solu­tions and Swe­co UK.

Today (23rd July 2020), sees the launch of plans for the largest smart city-wide, low car­bon energy sys­tem in the UK.

Launched at an online event, Peter­bor­ough Integ­rated Renew­ables Infra­struc­ture pro­ject (PIRI) aims to deliv­er a sig­ni­fic­ant drop in CO2 emis­sions by 2030, while cut­ting energy bills by up to a quarter. Peter­bor­ough is one of the fast­est grow­ing cit­ies in the UK and is facing a sig­ni­fic­ant increase in energy demand as the city con­tin­ues to grow.

The two-year pro­ject has been gran­ted fund­ing from UK Research and Innov­a­tion, along­side cor­por­ate invest­ment, to design a low car­bon, smart energy sys­tem for the city. The part­ner­ship includes Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil, SSE Enter­prise, Ele­ment Energy, Cran­field Uni­ver­sity, Smarter Grid Solu­tions and Swe­co UK.

PIRI com­bines a next gen­er­a­tion heat net­work, elec­tri­city net­work and elec­tric vehicle infra­struc­ture under one smart hol­ist­ic scheme. If suc­cess­ful, the scheme could be rolled out to oth­er cit­ies and towns, to help the UK real­ise its ambi­tions of Net Zero by 2050.

The pro­ject over the next two years will deliv­er clean­er, cheap­er energy and the bene­fits of the scheme include:

  • Loc­ally pro­duced, clean­er energy and heat from waste and with ser­vices being low car­bon driv­en
  • Mul­ti-util­ity infra­struc­ture deliv­ery, mean­ing lower costs and lower bills for con­sumers
  • Integ­rated billing and ser­vice for heat, elec­tri­city and mobil­ity (such as elec­tric vehicle char­ging) so cus­tom­ers can bene­fit
  • Low car­bon tech­no­logy made avail­able at cost-effect­ive con­nec­tion cost
  • Trans­par­ent tar­iff set­ting will gen­er­ate long-term sav­ings for loc­al author­it­ies

The PIRI pro­ject brings togeth­er energy gen­er­a­tion, demand and stor­age, thereby unlock­ing effi­cien­cies not deliv­er­able under exist­ing, tra­di­tion­al energy sys­tems. It is envis­aged to be espe­cially effect­ive in areas where the elec­tri­city net­work is con­strained; as well serving as a blue­print for oth­er urb­an loc­a­tions across the UK.

Elli­ot Smith, PIRI Pro­gram­me Lead at Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil, explains; “This is a highly innov­at­ive pro­ject — one of the most ambi­tious nation­ally and one which could become the most sig­ni­fic­ant in the UK’s trans­ition to low car­bon infra­struc­ture. For Peter­bor­ough, it has sub­stan­tial bene­fits and sup­ports the sus­tain­able growth of the city.”

Pro­fess­or Philip Longhurst, Head of the Centre for Cli­mate and Envir­on­ment Pro­tec­tion at Cran­field Uni­ver­sity, said: “For the UK to achieve its ambi­tions of Net Zero, we are going to have to do things dif­fer­ently. These plans announced today for the PIRI pro­ject show how loc­al low car­bon, smart energy sys­tems could be used across the UK for the bene­fit of both the envir­on­ment and con­sumers. At Cran­field, we pride ourselves on the prac­tic­al

applic­a­tion of our low car­bon tech­no­logy research and our close links with industry, PIRI is a fant­ast­ic example of that in action.”

Neil Kirkby, Man­aging Dir­ect­or of SSE Enter­prise, said: “SSE Enter­prise sees PIRI as a pro­gress­ive pro­ject that will show­case the poten­tial of smart urb­an energy sys­tems and help drive loc­al decar­bon­isa­tion in a com­mer­cially viable man­ner. It builds on the ‘whole sys­tem approach’ that our dis­trib­uted energy busi­ness offers; where we look to integ­rate dif­fer­ent energy ele­ments into one investable solu­tion and thereby make sav­ings for cus­tom­ers. As PIRI devel­ops we’ll be able to show how city liv­ing and regen­er­a­tion can be enhanced and we expect this pro­ject to serve as a blue­print for oth­er urb­an loc­a­tions across the UK.”

Dr Tan­ja Groth, Dir­ect­or of Urb­an Energy at Swe­co UK, said “To max­im­ise bene­fits to con­sumers and busi­nesses while address­ing the cli­mate emer­gency we need to move away from incre­ment­al improve­ments to isol­ated energy seg­ments and instead move towards trans­form­a­tion­al change to the whole energy sys­tem. PIRI is apply­ing best-prac­tice innov­a­tion in a city-scale energy regen­er­a­tion pro­ject, demon­strat­ing that this approach not only deliv­ers aggress­ive reduc­tions in car­bon but provides resi­li­ence, lowers con­sumer energy costs and provides wider soci­etal bene­fits such as improved loc­al air qual­ity, more effi­cient use of loc­al resources and stim­u­lates the loc­al eco­nomy.”

Shane Slater, Ele­ment Energy’s found­ing dir­ect­or and Smart Energy Sys­tems team lead­er, said: “Our future energy sup­ply can be clean and cost-effect­ive, but this comes with the key chal­lenge of great­er vari­ab­il­ity in renew­able energy gen­er­a­tion. Ele­ment is delighted to be part of PIRI, which will demon­strate how bal­an­cing energy sup­ply with demand from a diverse range of users of heat, trans­port, and elec­tri­city in Peter­bor­ough, across day-to-day and sea­son­al vari­ations, can deliv­er an effi­cient energy infra­struc­ture that will be clean, secure and afford­able for dec­ades to come.”

Dr Gra­ham Ault, Dir­ect­or at Smarter Grid Solu­tions, said, “Loc­ally led solu­tions to the cli­mate chal­lenge are essen­tial and the lead­er­ship and ambi­tion being shown in Peter­bor­ough is exem­plary. The design of smart, flex­ible, clean and decent­ral­ised energy sys­tems is both chal­len­ging and a great oppor­tun­ity. Our work across the UK, Europe and US is show­ing us the core role and high value of our soft­ware products for flex­ible, intel­li­gent con­trol of energy assets required in smart loc­al energy sys­tems. We wel­come the oppor­tun­ity to har­ness what we have learned about the man­age­ment, grid integ­ra­tion and mar­ket inter­con­nec­tion of dis­trib­uted energy resources and bring this to the design of the Peter­bor­ough sys­tem along­side all the pro­ject part­ners.”

Rob Saun­ders, UKRI — Chal­lenge Dir­ect­or, lead­ing the £100m ‘Prosper­ing from the Energy Revolu­tion pro­gram­me’, said, “PIRI brings togeth­er a highly ambi­tious, for­ward –ook­ing city like Peter­bor­ough, with the best innov­a­tions in Smart Energy by one of the UK’s lead­ing SMEs in this sec­tor — Smart Grid Solu­tions, with the deep net­work exper­i­ence of SSE, a com­bined know­ledge of Cran­field Uni­ver­sity and Ele­ment Energy, and the deliv­ery track record of a large organ­isa­tion like Swe­co. This pro­ject is set up really effect­ively, to be able to deliv­er this com­plex, sys­tem pro­ject.”