News: GreenSCIES shows how to lead transformative change at FutureBuild

We were very pleased to be invited to FutureBuild 2022 to talk about GreenSCIES in the District Energy Pavilion under the title of ‘Leading Transformative Change: the role of Smart Local Energy Systems’.

Prof Graeme Maidment, London South Bank University, introduced the session on ‘Why Smart Local Energy Systems?’ setting the scene on the emissions challenge. This GreenSCIES approach could provide massive carbon and revenue savings. This has to be done in a planned way as part of our decarbonisation journey to 2050. If we do nothing, we will end up with many inefficient cooling systems, as temperatures rise in summer, while failing to address the scourge of fuel poverty in winter, with more than 10% of people unable to adequately heat their homes. To combat predicted growth in energy use, need a smarter energy system connecting renewables, heat and mobility with local trading, sharing, storage & control of energy.

We must avoid ad hoc cooling and combat fuel poverty by 2050

The UK elelctricty supply has been greatly decarbonised since 1970
Low temperature and waste heat can be converted into useful hot water

Carol Costello & Kristina Roszynski, architects at Cullinan Studio, discussed the cultural impact of energy infrastructure. In the past, Britain had a rich history of celebrating of new infrastructure and civic pride in engineering achievements such as the London Underground and Victorian Pumping stations. More recently the community has been engaged in landmark projects such as the Bunhill energy centre, shown here.

To be socially and technically successful Smart Local Energy Systems in urban contexts need to be integrated into existing communities. Therefore, community engagement through a co-design process was an important principle of the GreenSCIES project.

Oliver Riley, Director at Silver EMS, explained ‘How does GreenSCIES work?’ through 3 big ideas:

Big Idea #1: Electricity is a good energy vector
Electricity can be used almost all our energy needs and, in the UK as internationally, the move from fossil fuels to renewables and the addition of energy storage has led to a steady ad continuing decline in the carbon content of grid-supplied electricity.

Big Idea #2: Urban heat networked at low temperatures
However we can still make direct use of heat, and GreenSCIES has been leading the way in showing how low temperature heat, whether from the ground or waste heat expelled by data centres, and be transformed into useful heat for use in homes and as hot water.

Big Idea #3: Local optimisation
The new energy systems will work best when implemented at a local level, matching supply to demand as far as possible. This allows integration of available resources to meet local demand for heat, power and mobility.

The local Community in front of the Bunhill Energy Centre
Image: Courtesy London Borough of Islington