Keele University campus to become Europe’s first smart energy centre

Keele University is transforming its campus into Europe’s first smart energy test site to develop pioneering green technologies and help cut the UK’s carbon emissions.

The £22 million programme, called the Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND), is a world-leading development in collaboration with international tech-giant Siemens, which will see Keele’s unique campus turned into a ‘living laboratory’.

This will be used to develop and test innovative new smart energy, renewables and energy-efficient technologies, providing a model for adoption by communities worldwide.

The findings from the demonstration will be used to help industry, policy makers and researchers to better understand how we can produce, distribute and use energy more flexibly and efficiently, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and cutting the carbon emissions driving climate change.

At the heart of SEND is the new Horwood Energy Centre - a hub where a constant stream of live energy data can be integrated, processed and analysed by state-of-the-art intelligent information systems.

This energy data stream will also be used to fuel research, generating new sustainable and high value jobs and growth in the region. The project is funding a host of collaborations with enterprise in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, where specialist researchers are matched to business needs to help develop new technologies, markets and systems.

Working collaboratively with local partner companies, the programme will provide the opportunity to assess the efficiency of these new technologies in terms of energy reduction, cost and CO2 emissions.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and UK Government, SEND will also demonstrate how the digitisation of local energy systems and resources can support the UK to cut its carbon emissions and tackle the climate crisis.

Transforming the Keele University campus into an ‘at scale living laboratory’ will provide a unique testing site model due to the diverse range of activities and facilities within it – 3,100 students in halls of residence, 1,000 commercial users on the Science and Innovation Park, 200 ‘standard’ domestic households, and academic activities serving 10,000 students.

Professor Zoe Robinson, Professor of Sustainability in Higher Education said: “In addition to the carbon reduction, business and research opportunities from SEND, it is part of a suite of sustainable energy-related projects which all provide a great educational opportunity, helping prepare our students for the energy systems shift in society that we need. Our students are proud to be at a university at the forefront of this shift.”

Professor of Practise in Smart Energy, David Healey, said self-contained self-balancing intelligent energy grids are the future, adding: “The recent energy outage caused by an imbalance in energy flows on the national grid shows just how vital the Keele project is in modelling a more flexible, greener and reliable future for our communities.”

The SEND project is a testament to the University’s commitment to embedding sustainability into all aspects of its education and operations. This ethos is further evidenced by Keele’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, which is driving the climate change research agenda, and our participation in other innovative energy projects like HyDeploy.

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The SEND 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).

ERDF and UK Government logo