Project ERIC (Energy Resources for Integrated Communities)

Organisation(s):

Bioregional and Oxford City Council

Overview:

Project ERIC is an initiative bringing solar PV and battery storage to up to 100 homes, the primary school, the community centre and an electric car club in Rose Hill, east Oxford

Background: 

ERIC was designed by Moixa Technology and Bioregional and brings together five additional key partners. It is funded by Innovate UK and Moixa technology with significant contributions from Oxford City Council and social landlord Green Square Group.

ERIC addresses a growing number of energy challenges faced across the UK, these include: (i) the rising cost of electricity and fuel poverty; (ii) over 70% of solar PV generated by a household is exported to the grid and not utilised by the local community; this has a knock on affect of placing additional stresses on the Low Voltage electricity network because (iii) the penetration of cheap, green, renewable energy on the grid is being limited by aging grid infrastructure that was not designed to accommodate high density distributed generation, such as solar PV, and finally (iv) disengaged communities, who feel they have no control over the energy they use and where it comes from.

Solution:

ERIC is working with 59 Oxford City Council house tenants, 28 Green Square households, up to ten private households, the local Primary School and new Community centre installing solar PV and battery storage to create a localised energy grid.

Passive energy consumers are transformed into an active, micro peoples-power station that is able to generate, store and utilise green electricity locally. Energy flows are monitored via the internet so that households and the whole community is able to view in real-time how much energy they are saving at each moment and how to make the most of the local generation.

In addition, the first electric vehicle car club that will be part-charged by solar PV installed on the new community centre, providing green public transport, accessible to the whole community.

The aim of the project is to demonstrate that 100% of solar PV generated in the community can be used locally and the peak demand of the average household can be reduced by 2/3.

Outcomes and benefits delivered: 

ERIC is currently monitoring the benefits of the system across all households and will report on the savings and benefits generated through the project in full in 2017. Initial results have shown households feeling in more control of the energy they use and a sense of pride in being part of a truly innovative local energy project.

Some households have reported savings that will equate to £150/year from the first few months’ data.

ERIC hopes to demonstrate the case for building localised energy grids across the UK that empower communities and remove their dependence of harmful and expensive fossil fuels.

Lessons learned/conclusion:

Conclusions are still yet to be drawn from the project. However initial learnings have shown how valuable it has been to have a visionary partner, in the case of ERIC, the City Council, who was willing to support and invest in the scheme, making the technology available to their tenants, many of whom are in fuel poverty.

Working with existing community networks has been critical to build trust and engage people in a fledgling and sometime unknown technology.

Time spent with households is also critical, to make clear and simple the benefits for the technology and its implications on a wider level, beyond their individual household.

Link to further information online:

localisedenergyeric.org.uk

Contact for further information:

Andy Edwards,  Associate, Bioregional

Andy.edwards@bioregional.com

 

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