SEND - Smart Energy Network Demonstrator

The Keele University Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND) – a European first, is an at scale environment providing a platform that allows energy generation, distribution, storage, forecasting and energy balancing to be intelligently carried out across different energy sources using the Keele University campus as a genuine ‘living laboratory’.

Climate change is the single biggest global threat to ever face us, the effects of which are increasingly starting to be felt. Change is needed urgently and to address this we need to:

  • Better understand how we produce, distribute and consume energy in a more flexible and efficient manner.
  • Reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and to significantly reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change.

The SEND will deliver better energy management, reduce reliance on fossil-fuel derived energy, significantly reducing energy waste and provide the opportunity to trial innovative ways of energy use and management. The SEND project completion date is mid 2021.

Sir David Attenborough at Keele in May 2019.

We have the power, and the knowledge, to care for the world…. Keele University is showing that it understands the importance of sustainability.

Sir David Attenborough at Keele in May 2019.

Smart Energy Network Demonstrator leaflet‌

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Commitment to sustainability: Root and Branch

  • The Institute for Sustainable Futures - driving environmental research excellence.
  • One of first UK universities to declare a ‘climate emergency’.
  • Committed to divestment from fossil fuels.
  • driving environmental sustainability research across all areas of scholarship
  • 24,000 solar panels & 2 wind turbines approved, up to 50% of Keele’s electrical energy

For more information go to

SEND Back Wall 650

Keele is like a small town, with 350 buildings on the university campus, from family homes, flats and students accommodation, to teaching spaces, laboratories, sports facilities and business premises. It's the perfect place for the SEND.

  • An international test-bed for new low-carbon energy technologies.
  • A showcase for reliable, local, diverse, sustainable energy.
  • Integrating solar, wind, hydrogen, combined heat & power.
  • Powering up transport with an electric vehicle charging Green Zone.

SEND Glass Wall 650

What’s more the demonstration facility and data generated by SEND will underpin new research and innovation partnerships with local, regional and international business, generating new products, services and knowledge to drive sustainable high value economic growth and jobs locally as part of a UK-wide commitment to lead internationally as the home of ‘clean growth’.

SEND is an energy ecosystem with an intelligent brain at its heart. Information is the key.

Never before has a constant stream of live energy data from so many sources been integrated, processed and analysed - automatically balancing and controlling energy flows.

It will all be controlled by the cutting-edge intelligent information systems in the new Horwood Energy Centre. It will include a "digital twin" allowing researchers to "plug in and play", conducting energy experiments in a perfect virtual model.

Keele is working with international tech-giant Siemens to deliver SEND with funds from the European Regional Development Fund and the UK Government’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Keele’s is playing a central role, working with industry leaders, in testing low carbon technology in real world conditions. As the drive to tackle climate changing carbon emissions rises to the top of the international agenda, Keele’s HyDeploy Project is making a stir in academia and in Government.

The project is the subject of a significant article, published in the June edition of in the Clean Energy Journal, a leading international energy research publication. HyDeploy is the UK’s first at scale trial of blending hydrogen into natural gas to provide energy for a small town size community, on the isolated gas grid on Keele’s University campus.

The project is on the verge of going live - with 100 homes and over 30 university buildings, including the Vice-Chancellors building, getting the new low-carbon hydrogen power for heating from this autumn. The hydrogen is generated with an electrolyser, powered from Keele’s green electricity supply - so it ticks all the boxes. It got the go ahead from the national Health and Safety Executive last November after 18 months of rigorous experimentation.

The article in the Clean Energy Journal (written by Project Manager Tommy Isaacs) looks at the breadth of experimental works, engineering analysis and process equipment which has been thoroughly stress tested to ensure that trial can go ahead. The interdisciplinary team has demonstrated that the hydrogen blend would be as safe as the current natural gas supply on campus.

Professor Chris Fogwill, Chair of Keele’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, said HyDeploy research was making waves nationally and internationally.

“This project has put Keele centre stage in the UK’s drive to heat our homes and businesses without heating up the planet. The Government is taking a massive interest in the prospects for hydrogen and we are already working alongside our partners in industry developing two larger demonstration trials in the north of England. The Keele experience is helping to shape energy policy for the nation,” he said.

HyDeploy is just one element of the mix in the Keele commitment to a sustainable future. Keele is providing the test-bed for a uniquely integrated energy network with a high-tech brain at its heart.

SEND is Europe’s largest SMART Energy Network Demonstrator project - bringing together a host of low-carbon energy generation technologies in a small-town sized energy ecology. Complex energy flows will be self-regulated, with a constant flow of live information from a vast network of energy sensors informing a high-tech intelligent information management and control system. It’s a European first.

And in July Keele got the go ahead from the local planning authority to push with ahead another piece in the energy jigsaw, plans for 24,000 solar panels and two wind turbines, generating a projected 50% of the university’s energy needs.

“Keele is absolutely committed root and branch to being an agent of change in the battle to protect our planet for future generations,” Chris said.

“In May we welcomed Sir David Attenborough to open our new £45 million life science laboratories, named in his honour. He met with sand students to discuss their pioneering research and studies in fields such as food security, biodiversity, and global health.

“And on the same day the University declared a Climate Emergency and announced it had divested from fossil fuels. The Institute of Sustainable Futures is driving change local, nationally and internationally,” he said.

Project Manager and article author Tommy Isaacs said the HyDeploy programme was the first stepping stone in deploying hydrogen within the UK energy system.

“The scientific sandpit of collaborative research undertaken at Keele makes the university the perfect location to investigate and understand how best to utilise hydrogen within a heating network. More work is needed to fully commercialise hydrogen, however all great oaks started as a seed in fertile soil – Keele has provided that soil to nurture hydrogen deployment within the UK.”


HyDeploy 650

Funding Logos

The SEND programme (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 The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).