Smart batteries to transform islands’ energy needs

Home battery company, Moixa Technology, has begun installing smart batteries on the Isles of Scilly in the first stage of a landmark programme that aims to transform the lives of islanders and provide a model for communities worldwide.

The £10.8m project, led by Hitachi Europe Ltd., will demonstrate how solar power, batteries, smart heating technologies and electric vehicles can be used to help support the islands’ energy system and reduce bills for the whole community.

The low-carbon infrastructure is due to be installed by this autumn. A not-for-profit Community Interest Company, the Isles of Scilly Community Venture, will sell power generated by the solar panels and recycle the income to reduce electricity bills for all islanders through a special Isles of Scilly energy tariff that will be launched this summer.

The Smart Energy Islands (SEI) project, part financed by £8.6m from the European Regional Development Fund, will lay the foundations for the wider Smart Islands programme, which aims to cut electricity bills by 40 per cent by 2025. It also aims by 2025 to meet 40 per cent of energy demand through renewables and see 40 per cent of vehicles be electric or low-carbon.

The programme is designed to transform the lives of the 2,200 islanders and pilot systems that can be replicated worldwide to help communities make a rapid transition from a high-carbon to a low-carbon economy. The Isles of Scilly have no gas supply and rely heavily on imported fossil fuels and electricity. High fuel costs and large numbers of homes with inefficient heating systems leave 15.5 per cent of households fuel poor, one of the UK’s highest rates.

Chris Wright, Moixa chief technology officer, said: “The Isles of Scilly will be a global test-bed for batteries, electric vehicles and smart heating systems, showing how they can save money for households, enable more clean renewable power, and support efficient, cost-effective energy systems. It will demonstrate the value of technologies that can benefit communities all over the world.”

Around 450kW of solar panels will be installed on the roofs of more than 70 council-owned homes, on the islands’ fire station, their recycling facility and desalination plant, and in a solar garden by the airport (subject to planning). They will more than double the islands’ renewable capacity and save nearly 900 tonnes of CO2 every year. Panels will be thin with a matt finish, to avoid glare.

Moixa will install a total 43.8kWh of smart batteries in homes and at each of the non-domestic sites. Ten smart homes will pilot different mixes of low-carbon technologies which will also include air source heat pumps and smart water heaters.

Moixa and home energy services company PassivSystems have developed smart control systems to manage and optimise the batteries, heat pumps and water heaters for householders, using artificial intelligence to learn their patterns of consumption and maximise savings.

Moixa will also pave the way for the islands’ electric vehicle ambitions by using an electric van and charging point to pilot a vehicle-to-grid system. Learning algorithms will ensure that the vehicle’s battery is maintained at a state of charge which will allow it to support the islands’ energy system when it is not being used by the Council of the Isles of Scilly’s operations and maintenance team.

The batteries, smart heating devices and electric vehicle will integrate with an Internet of Things (IoT) enabled energy resource management platform, developed by Hitachi Europe Ltd., which is due to launch in November. It will be able to use them absorb or release power, helping to balance supply and demand. 

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