Keele University in Staffordshire, United Kingdom has received 15m sterling in funding to create the largest smart grid test bed of its kind anywhere in Europe. The 5-year project, led by Professor Zhong Fan, seeks to turn the campus into a living laboratory where new energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies can be researched, developed and tested in a real-world environment. As all electricity, gas, heat, telecommunications and water facilities on the Keele campus are owned and operated by the university, the site is uniquely placed to manage a project of this size. By working alongside local businesses, the program aims to support new innovations that can ultimately improve energy efficiency, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and cut carbon dioxide emissions. The university also plans to investigate whether smart metering and associated developments like automated substations make sense from an economic point of view.
Fan said, “This is Europe’s first ‘at scale’ smart energy network demonstrator, and offers the very realistic prospect of establishing Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire businesses at the heart of the global market for smart energy technologies. Whether your business is currently in the energy sector or is looking to develop a product that could benefit that market, we would love to hear from you.”
Future projects could include investigating how electricity might, at off-peak times, be stored in electric vehicles for use at a later point. Dr. Fan stated, “With a large number of electric vehicles, each with batteries, you can use this as a kind of dynamic storage network. You can somehow send back the energy stored in the vehicle. At the later stage of the project we want to have that capability.”
The project, known as the Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND), is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the European Regional Development Fund and Keele University itself. Further information regarding the SEND project can be found online at www.keele.ac.uk/business or by contacting Keele University’s Business Gateway (01782 733001 / firstname.lastname@example.org).