Innovate UK awards Balanced Energy Networks consortium £2.9m

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Heat Sharing District Networks – BEN

Innovate UK has awarded £2.9m towards a £4m ICAX led consortium, including Upside Energy, to build a Balanced Energy Network at London South Bank University to demonstrate innovations in integrated energy supply chains.

Energy Trilemma

The two year project, starting in May 2016, follows on from an earlier feasibility study financed by Innovate UK to research into innovations to encourage cross-sector supply chains aiming to deliver integrated energy solutions at different scales to meet the many energy systems challenges of achieving a low-carbon economy by 2050.

The DECC has the goal of seeing 15-25% of the UK’s growing space and water heating demand delivered through heat networks, in place of the current 2% capacity.

The Balanced Energy Network incorporates a heat sharing network which is designed to provide a more cost effective, flexible, and scalable alternative to conventional district heating network technology. Heat sharing networks transfer warmth via underground piping circuits between buildings at near ground temperature and extract it via heat pumps in each building.

This radical innovation will allow the integration of diverse energy systems through the recovery of low grade waste heat, delivery of simultaneous heating and cooling, links to heat storage in boreholes and provides lower installation costs by making use of existing infrastructure, none of which are possible with conventional high temperature heat networks.

The BEN Consortium

ICAX which has developed Inter-seasonal Heat Transfer to enable buildings to be heated in winter with solar energy captured in the previous summer

The Centre for Efficient and Renewable Energy in Buildings, CEREB, is London South Bank University’s unique teaching, research and demonstration resource for the built environment, hosting a number of renewable and intelligent energy solutions.

Terra Firma Ground Investigation has expertise in open and closed loop borehole drilling for exploiting ground source energy.

Upside Energy is developing a cloud service that aggregates the energy stored in systems people and businesses already own (uninterruptible power supplies, solar PV systems, electric vehicles, domestic heating systems). This creates a “virtual energy store” that can be sold to the grid to help it balance supply and demand.

Mixergy has developed heavily insulated domestic hot water tanks with novel inlet stratification to allow extended thermal energy storage. Mixergy can exploit the cheap rate electricity negotiated by Upside to heat DHW when prices are cheapest (often at night). Mixergy can exploit a “demand response” by reaction to a low price signal from Upside. Other users of electricity in the Balanced Energy Network, such as heat pumps, can take advantage of cheaper tariffs for restricted periods in the same way.

Origen Power and Cranfield University are developing a fuel cell calciner to enable electricity to be generated in a way that removes CO2 from the atmosphere.

The GLA is contributing to the consortium as a stakeholder with an interest in maintaining and protecting London’s environment and resources (water, energy and waste) and ensuring that they are used more efficiently. The Greater London Authority is working to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in London, to help tackle climate change and increase the city’s resilience to extreme weather.

Winckworth Sherwood is contributing time to advise on resolving the legal barriers to establishing district heating networks.

Read more on the BEN project from the consortium lead, ICAX.