Central Government to back unique energy partnership at Keele

Posted on 14 March 2014
This will not only secure Keele's place at the forefront of teaching and research in sustainability and green technology but will enable us to make a major impact through practical application not only locally but also in the wider community."

A unique partnership led by Keele University is set to underpin 1,200 high tech jobs to the region, it was announced today.

In a ground breaking collaboration between Keele, Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council, the Cabinet Office has confirmed that it will pump £5m into a £27million project creating a UK's first Smart Energy Network Demonstrator site. As the national lead for such groundbreaking work, it is believed that the long term benefits will include the creation of both high tech jobs in the energy sector, will attract inward investment and be a major technicological boost to the area.

The project, part of the Stoke & Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership City Deal initiative, aims to deliver a nationally significant, world class Smart Energy Network on the Keele campus in Staffordshire - the only university project of this scale in the country.

Professor Nick Foskett, the Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, said: "This will not only secure Keele's place at the forefront of teaching and research in sustainability and green technology but will enable us to make  a major impact through practical application not only locally but also in the wider community."

Capitalising on its unique position as an estate with a mixed business, academic and residential community of over 10,000 people, with over 2.2 million (m) ft² of built environment (academic, usiness, commercial, retail, banking, leisure and residential) and about 90km of private utilities network, the proposal is to enhance this Smart Energy Grid to deliver a Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEN).

Teams at Keele, will be able to provide expert advice and support to a range of users - estate managers, innovators, manufacturers, installers, planners, developers, and energy suppliers.The project is expected toprovide 170 jobs over the implementation period alone.

Phil Butters, Director of Estates and Development at Keele,  said: "While it is a National and International Research and Demonstrator facility, the project  demonstrates the benefits of collaboration, being led by the Keele Estates Team working with world leading research teams at the University in the areas of clean energy and sustainability."

The facility will be open to a wide range of users, including:

• Higher Education: For research collaborations and also to support energy plans, to circa 150 HE Institutions.
• NHS: Providing valuable support in improving energy efficiency in acute hospitals, which are high users of energy and as highlighted in the broader LEP Energy Proposals, are prime candidates for benefiting from local energy generation and distribution - around 300
• Developers/Government: Consultation with Construction Organisation and Planners have indicated an interest in the SEN and support for the proposed services at Keele to help plan infrastructure layouts for business parks, housing developments, and more global infrastructure schemes.

The SEN, utilising a mixed energy supply and demand environment, will provide a facility for the evaluation of new and evolving energy technologies and provide the opportunity to assess their efficiencies, both individually and combined, in terms of energy reduction, cost, and CO2 emissions, through “Scenario Modelling”:

• Energy Supply and Demand Scenario Planning/Modelling - demand response.
• Energy Generation Performance Monitoring.
• Energy Source, Capacity, Storage, Prioritisation and Evaluation.
• Energy Mix Design and Evaluation.

Understanding how differing mixes of energy technologies can be combined in different environments to maximise efficiency is an essential part of ensuring energy security, competitive pricing and future cost certainty; all attributes identified as essential for business in delivering commercial growth and sustainability. Keele University is in a unique position to provide this physical demonstrator, occupying an estate with over 2.2million ft² of built environment and a mixed community of over 10,000 people.

The primary role of the Keele University Smart Energy Network (SEN) will be to demonstrate the opportunities that are available and to encourage the national deployment of Smart Energy Grids supported by a location specific mix of energy technologies and solutions. Building on the world leading research at Keele and the existing Hub for Sustainability, the SEN, supported by both Technical Energy/Estates Staff and Academic Research.