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West Berkshire and Reading Borough Councils Pilot Smart Energy Systems

West Berkshire and Reading Borough Councils Pilot Smart Energy Systems
29 April 2022 | Updated 18 May 2022

A pilot project to create a smart energy system in Thames Valley has successfully connected four of West Berkshire Council’s sites to the growing network.

The system is helping local authorities to monitor and reduce their energy across a range of facilities including local education centres, leisure hubs and council-owned office buildings.

The initiative is part of the ADEPT (Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport) SMART Places Live Lab programme, a two-year £22.9 million project funded by the Department for Transport.


“Clean” Energy for Buildings


Solar photo-voltaics (PVs) at each of the four sites – West Berkshire Council’s head office and Northcroft leisure centre in Newbury, The Willink School in Burghfield Common, and Building 150, a warehouse on a former army base – have been linked using Cirrus Flex, a distributed energy resources management system (DERMS) created by Glasgow-based energy software company Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS).

The smart energy platform allows the council to monitor and analyse the amount of electricity generated at the sites and to begin planning for its net-zero operations. Since going live in 2020, the council’s head office and Building 150 have generated a combined 122 MWh of electricity - saving the equivalent of 29 tonnes of CO2 and generating enough electricity to power 32 homes for one year.

The council could also use the platform to manage energy use across the facilities, which would help it to cut its carbon dioxide emissions and save money.




Reading Borough Council  – Solar Photo-Voltaics and EV Charging Sites


Neighbouring Reading Borough Council is already working with SGS to monitor its solar PV and electric vehicle (EV) charging sites, and aims to control, optimise, and interact with wider grid services.

The Live Lab’s energy workstream focuses on smart energy management systems for integrated buildings and EV charging to monitor and, where feasible, control energy devices.

The Thames Valley Live Lab project has recently concluded and work is underway to explore how the trial can be extended to increase the benefits for local councils of reducing their carbon dioxide emissions and costs, while increasing their energy self-sufficiency.

The smart energy platform created during the live lab could form the basis to deliver and utilise clean energy for buildings, services, and transport at the lowest cost to local authorities, while meeting their mandatory net-zero targets.

James Crosbie of the Thames Valley Live Lab project, said: “Planning for our net-zero future is a major challenge for every local authority energy manager.

“Our Live Lab is starting to provide some of the answers that they need to manage their fleets of EVs, their building management systems, and their solar panels and other renewable energy devices.

“The next steps will be for the councils that are taking part in our Live Lab to begin managing their energy using the technology that’s been developed and implemented during this pilot project.

“SGS and our other partners are giving councils the tools they need to begin tackling the climate emergency, while keeping costs as low as possible for taxpayers.”

Picture: a photograph of three people sitting at some computer screens examining data. Image Credit: Smarter Grid Solutions

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 29 April 2022


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