June 14, 2024
A new microgrid project in the UK offers a path to cheaper residential electrification. The

A new microgrid project in the UK offers a path to cheaper residential electrification.

The Grove Park housing and business complex in Sellindge will be powered exclusively by a microgrid for renewable energy and storage, along with a smart grid management controller.

Housing developer Quinn Estates is working with SNRG SmartGrids, a microgrid-as-a-service company that is backed by Centrica, one of the UK’s largest energy companies. SNRG will design, finance, build and operate the privately owned microgrid, providing power as a service for the 162 houses being built in the project.

Although SNRG is technology agnostic, it has developed its own smart grid management system that can be integrated with any appropriate technology as part of its solution.

The project is envisioned to use local renewable energy generation and is likely to focus on rooftop solar PV as the primary source, but could also connect to “offsite” generation assets such as a nearby solar park, wind capacity or air source heat pumps.

A large community battery and electric vehicle chargers will also be part of the low-voltage smart grid that will be connected through Centrica’s Honeycomb platform.

Grove Park has master planning permission and while the specifics of the microgrid are still being finalized, construction development is expected to begin in mid-2022. It will be part of a project of some 24,000 homes that Quinn Estates has in project in the south-east of England.

Zero Carbon Microgrid Value

This project reflects the fact that we really have to decarbonize if we are going to meet our climate change goals. The Homes of the Future Standard will require new homes to be zero-carbon ready and all-electric, with no connection to the gas grid. The Government has set the goal of applying it by 2025.

Dan Nicholls, CEO of SNRG SmartGrids

SNRG’s business model is designed to reduce risk, cost and complexity for the construction industry on its way to all-electric housing development. Part of the smart management system includes an electric vehicle charging management system to limit peak loads as part of demand response capability.

There is a benefit for the developer in terms of the amount of capacity that must be secured and the unaffordable costs associated with reinforcing the distribution network.

Dan Nicholls

Consumers also have to bear part of this cost.

There is also a broader benefit. If we are to meet the target of building 300,000 new all-electric homes a year in the UK, the costs of upgrading the grid to meet that need could be quite considerable. We can mitigate it with local energy systems.

Dan Nicholls

Cost savings

SNRG’s goal is to create an energy positive neighborhood that generates more energy than it consumes and saves residents up to 30% on their energy bills.

Our vertically integrated local energy solution also ensures that consumers do not pay more to live in a 100% electric home.

Dan Nicholls

The Grove Park project will include a total renewable energy generation portfolio of about 500 kW and is therefore small business scale. But with a significant pipeline of potentially suitable projects under development, the microgrid-as-a-service model could provide a substantial advantage in terms of ancillary services and overall network management.

Building these modules to serve the community presents an interesting opportunity in terms of new business models. You end up building a fairly significant generation portfolio that could be added and leveraged.

Dan Nicholls

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