26 May 2021
Bringing Network Visibility to Cheshire’s Energy Innovation District
Cheshire’s Energy Innovation District is an exciting proactive initiative enabling collaboration between the public and private sector to gain an understanding of opportunities for innovation and growth. Its objective is to create an environment that can deliver a strategy to drive innovation, support industry and encourage growth and investment. The measure of success is ultimately to lower energy costs.
Making the most of our location in the area as a project partner, we worked with SP Energy Networks to instal our VisNet ® Hub real-time monitoring device across Cheshire within low voltage (LV) distribution substations in the Energy Innovation District to bring network visibility.
Why is the Energy Innovation District’s location important?
This cluster of energy-related industry is set in the industrial heart of the North West between the cities of Chester, Liverpool and Manchester. It includes large-scale energy assets, energy intensive industries, the associated supply chain and a centre for Research and Development.
The significance of this location is clear, considering that it currently consumes around 5% of the UK’s energy and is home to some of the UK’s most energy-intensive infrastructure, including Ineos Chlor, Essar’s Stanlow Refinery, CF Fertilisers, Encirc and URENCO.
How does VisNet monitoring help?
The VisNet® Hub provides valuable insight into substation efficiency and optimisation and this initiative was particularly relevant to the key industrial area near Ellesmere Port, feeding into plans for a smart energy grid, as well as other locations that are potentially of interest.
The monitoring device checks the voltage and current data on every LV feeder, providing insights about load, faults and condition information across the network. This data allows network operators to improve network flexibility and efficiency as well as security and quality of supply as low carbon technologies become more widespread.
The data provided by VisNet® Hub is available to SP Energy Networks and other interested parties via the project’s web portal. This information can help to ensure that the area's network of infrastructure has the capacity and capability to support transport, utilities and digital businesses. The project seeks to tackle the barriers to entry that face SMEs in particular, so that they can perform effectively and scale up.
Proving the plan for Cheshire’s Net Zero capital investment initiative
The Invest Net Zero Cheshire initiative has developed a roadmap to net zero to drive inward investment in low carbon energy projects across the county with EA Technology’s support.
Invest Net Zero Cheshire is driven by the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership and the Cheshire Energy Hub. Projects within the initiative fall into one of two categories – already identified or underway – and cover a range of renewable technologies across hydrogen, carbon capture, energy storage, and smart grids.
Earmarked for investment are £1 billion of low carbon investment opportunities across Cheshire.
EA Technology is proud to be a delivery partner for Invest Net Zero Cheshire, working alongside Energy Systems Catapult and the Ikigai Capital net-zero bankability consultancy.
A stand-out region
Cheshire is a natural choice as a place to invest in a decarbonised industrial cluster. It’s unique in already making headway to decarbonise all elements of the energy system, and there is an array of projects for investors to choose from, together offering long-term, sustainable investment opportunities.
Technological insights from EA Technology
Invest Net Zero Cheshire has developed a techno-economic route map based on stakeholder engagement to facilitate net zero in Cheshire. Having a sound, evidence-based, underpinning strategy to justify investment in new technologies and infrastructure is critical to the project’s long-term outcomes. Here, EA Technology was instrumental in providing the technological diligence behind the plan.
The project’s focus is the industrial sector, where the scale of energy consumption means that the most significant savings can be found.
The remit of the project falls within four key paraments:
With EA Technology’s help, this stage of the initiative is producing a portfolio of viable projects in the Cheshire area to which Ikigai aims to attract investment
Our guide to decarbonising your office
Using the learning gathered from decarbonising the EA Technology office at Capenhurst for Net Zero Cheshire, we undertook a project to create a guidebook and website to provide the basis for other CEOs and CFOs seeking to move their commercial premises towards Net Zero.
The guide provides information on which investment and technology alternatives offer the best return on capital investment and have the greatest impact on carbon reduction.
Making improvements can reduce your building’s carbon footprint and energy bills and improve electricity and heating systems, as well as your energy supply’s resilience. Moreover, you can improve facility use flexibility as your business evolves.
How we’re learning by doing
In using our office building as a testbed, our goal is to deliver what we hope will be a fully working example of an integrated net carbon-zero smart energy building using low carbon technologies (LCTs).
Adding to the environmental benefits of the scheme are energy storage and an electric vehicle charging system. We understand the challenges of modernising existing buildings – our working model is over 50 years old!
Sharing our findings
We aim to make discoveries through the decarbonisation process and share our learnings to help others go through the same process more quickly and easily. We know a knowledge gap exists, and there are limited resources to draw on for commercial buildings owners and operators, so we want to pass our knowledge on.
You can use our learnings to discover the kind of improvements you could make in several areas:
- Carbon savings
- Capital expenditure on LCTs
- Payback period of different LCTs
Understanding your energy usage
The starting point to decarbonising your building’s energy usage has to be to understand the pattern and quantity of energy used by the structure and its occupants. We’ve produced a checklist to guide you through the information you need to assess how you are currently using energy.
Our checklist guides you through the different aspects relevant to these questions to help you compile all the relevant details before you consider improvements:
- What kind of building is it?
- Does the building consume a lot of energy?
- How does energy usage change over time?
- How much do you spend on energy?
- What energy sources do you use to power the building?
- Are there any plans to alter the structure?
Moving beyond energy efficiency to lowering energy needs, we advocate looking at energy generation to build on efficiency improvements. Based on our own experience, incorporating renewable, low carbon energy is a vital step to decarbonisation. You can consider using:
- Electricity from renewables such as solar or wind power
- Heat from heat pumps or biomass powered boilers
- Hot water from solar water heating
- Stored generation using electrical batteries or thermal stores
Don’t forget the financial potential of generating your own power, bearing in mind the opportunities surrounding energy exports, tariffs, and demand-side response. You can also take advantage of the interdependency between your electricity and heating systems to explore automation and optimisation.