Keele partners with Qbots to develop energy trading platform

Keele University has teamed up with energy technology company Qbots to develop a smart energy trading system, known as Urban-X, that aims to support the UK’s journey to net zero carbon emissions.

Shifting to renewable energy generation, enabled by local energy markets, is thought to be key to enable the UK to meet its net zero target. To kickstart the creation of these smart local energy systems, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has awarded £25.5 million through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to fund research and demonstration projects – and Keele’s partnership with Qbots is one such project.

Through these UK-wide local “smart energy” projects, BEIS aims to cut carbon emissions and energy bills. It is thought that over 250,000 people could have their homes powered by local renewable sources by 2030 – which could lead to their energy bills reducing by as much as half, thanks to this government funding.

Qbots Energy, based in Manchester, has developed a local energy trading and optimisation platform using the latest Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things technologies. This helps businesses get the cheapest green energy, working with generators & energy suppliers in the UK.

Their system – QEnergy – uses its technology to balance the supply and demand of energy across a network of sites, by optimising the time of energy use in real-time and using battery storage. This maximises the use of local generation and minimises buying energy from the National Grid, especially at peak times.

The Urban-X project has received £400,000 from BEIS’ Prospering from the Energy Revolution Challenge, which provides funding to help businesses and researchers to create affordable, low carbon and resilient ways to provide energy.

Through the project, Keele University will support Qbots to improve the performance of the local energy trading platform by connecting with ten buildings on the Keele campus whilst utilising demand flexibility, battery storage, solar generation and electric vehicle charging.

Professor Zhong Fan, Academic Director of the Smart Energy Network Demonstrator at Keele University, said: “Keele is ideally placed to support the development of new smart energy technologies, and a number of low-carbon and sustainable energy initiatives are already underway at the University.

“We’re transforming the University campus into Europe’s first Smart Energy Network Demonstrator*, and we’ve also partnered with Cadent to trial the use of a hydrogen blend in Keele’s natural gas network as part of the HyDeploy project.

“Also, as part of this latest BEIS challenge, we’re working with ENGIE and other industry partners to create a Smart Local Energy System in the Staffordshire town of Rugeley.

“As a University which prides itself on leading the way in sustainability innovation, we are delighted to have partnered with Qbots and very much look forward to driving this significant project forward.”

Vijay Natarajan, Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Qbots Energy, said: “URBAN-X project will position Qbots Energy as a market leader in local energy trading and optimisation platforms in the UK, with plans of rolling it out amongst customers including property developers, business parks, university campuses and city councils. Qbots also aims to take this technology to global markets including China, India, Canada and Nigeria in the near future.”

Speaking about the funding awarded for this project, Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, said: “Every corner of the UK has a part to play as we eliminate our contribution to climate change entirely by 2050. This funding will deliver energy savings and reduce carbon emissions – a win-win for communities and the environment.”

Rob Saunders, Challenge Director, Prospering from the Energy Revolution, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), said: “This innovative project provides new approaches to delivering our net zero commitments by delivering cleaner, cheaper energy services while creating more prosperous and resilient communities.

“But as well as their benefits to consumers, this project, as part of the Clean Growth Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge, places UK industry at the forefront of the global shift to clean energy systems and economies.”


Smart Energy Network Demonstrator

ERDF and UK Government logos *The Smart Energy Network Demonstrator project (ref. 32R16P00706) is part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme, and is available to ERDF eligible companies. The project is also receiving funds from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Prospering from the Energy Revolution Challenge

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) ran a competition that will contribute to the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The winners hope to create a pipeline of highly innovative, ambitious and investable local energy system designs that will be ready to roll out across the UK in the 2020s.

Qbots Energy

Qbots Energy is looking to revolutionise the way energy is being traded to play an integral part in achieving Net-Zero and saving energy cost. Today, Qbots Energy leads multiple grand-scale commercial projects to lead the UK to this ambitious target. The seamless integration of this energy management and recommendation system with the energy contracts through QEnergy™ makes it easier for consumers and prosumers alike to spend less time while having a fair contribution in the goal towards a better world for everyone.