Smart energy systems to help tackle fuel poverty on Isles of Scilly

Smart energy systems to help tackle fuel poverty on Isles of Scilly

A £10.8 million ($13.3 million) smart energy project is being implemented to tackle fuel poverty and support full energy independence on the Isles of Scilly, UK.

The Smart Energy Islands (SEI) project, part financed by £8.6 million ($10.6 million) from the European Regional Development Fund, will see battery and energy storage company Moixa Technologies develop platforms allowing electric vehicles and smart home batteries to be used to help balance supply and demand within the islands’ energy system.

The project, which was announced this week, will not, however, fund the electric vehicle and charging points themselves, according to a statement from Moixa.

It is hoped that the pilot on the Isles of Scilly will lay the foundations for the wider Smart Islands program globally, which aims to cut electricity bills by 40 percent, meet 40 percent of energy demand through renewables, and see 40 percent of vehicles being electric or low-carbon by 2025.

A high-carbon, low-wage economy

The Isles of Scilly are located 28 miles from the mainland UK. The remote location presents challenges: there’s no gas supply and a heavy reliance on imported fossil fuels and electricity in order to meet the needs of the islands’ 2,200 inhabitants, resulting in one of the UK’s highest levels of per-household electricity consumption.

The islands also have a low-wage economy, reliant on tourism and agriculture. This problem is exacerbated by high fuel costs and a large number of homes with inefficient heating systems, leading to significant fuel poverty.

To tackle the problems, two systems will be implemented by Moixa: an electric vehicle management system and a home battery management system.

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Smart energy meets IoT

According to Moixa, the electric vehicle management system will control and optimize how electric car batteries are used by the islands’ energy system, by developing learning algorithms to ensure that vehicles maintain sufficient charge to support the energy system and the needs of its users.

The home battery management system will incorporate smart home batteries that will supposedly allow houses with solar panels to save money by using more of the power they generate. They will also be able to import or export energy to balance local energy needs.

The systems will integrate with Japanese conglomerate Hitachi Europe’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform, which is leading the SEI project.

Chris Wright, chief technology officer at Moixa, suggested that Moixa’s role in the SEI project will demonstrate how ordinary people can play a key role in future energy systems.

“Home batteries and electric vehicles controlled by smart software will help create a reliable, cost-effective, low-carbon energy system that will deliver savings to homeowners and the community,” Wright said.

“Our systems will support the reduction of fuel poverty on the Scilly Isles and support their path to full energy independence. They will be scalable and flexible so they can be replicated easily to allow communities all over the world to cut carbon and benefit from the smart power revolution.”

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Beefing up renewable power

Alongside Moixa’s systems, the SEI will help to double 270kW of power currently generated by renewable sources on the islands.

This will see rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed in 100 homes, a tenth of the island’s housing stock, and two 50kW solar gardens will be built. They will deliver 448kW of renewable energy and reduce the islands’ carbon footprint.

Energy management systems will also be installed in the 100 solar homes, while energy monitoring systems will be installed in 190 of the islands’ businesses, supplied by energy services company PassivSystems.

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