Project Name:
Barford And Stretford Court
Gateshead Borough Council
Project Type:
Operational Pilot
Date Commenced:
September 2019
Date Concluded:
Type of Housing Scheme:
Type of Home:
Number of Energy Systems:
Number of Homes:
Funding Support:
ERDF; Project ‘The Heights’

Gateshead Borough Council is a leading authority on the deployment of heat networks, since constructing the Gateshead Energy Centre in March 2017. As a significant owner of social housing, the Council wanted to pilot new approaches for decarbonising heat in high rise blocks, based around installation of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems.

For two of these blocks, Barford Court and Stretford Court, the Council wanted to trial incorporation of a private wire that would enable the electricity produced by a CHP system to be supplied to residents alongside supply of the heat that was generated. The idea was that this would significantly increase the returns the CHP system would achieve when compared to a typical arrangement for the technology in residential settings, in which the generated electricity would be exported to the grid.

While the Council had previously set up CHP schemes where the electricity produced was sold to industrial and commercial customers, this was the first time they had sought to sell the power to residential customers. The Council went to tender for a solution provider who would apply a particular operational model for the scheme, based on a legal interpretation of what was permissible under prevailing energy licensing rules. Emergent applied, fulfilling the requirements of the tender, while at the same time explaining to the Council that their interpretation of the rules was incorrect, and a better operational solution was possible. The Council subsequently revised its view of the legal position in line with Emergent’s advice.

Emergent won the tender and was engaged to deliver services related to the design, installation and operation of the system. The installation works were intensive and required efficient implementation of activities that interacted with national electricity industry participants and processes. The activities included transferral of customers from their current fiscal MPAN meters and local distribution system (DNO) connection, to a private sub-meter connected to a private wire microgrid. Emergent managed the full delivery of these works, including full liaison with tenant, and coordinating specialist contractors as required. The ongoing operational service we provide includes metering and billing, financial management, and regulatory advice.

As with the Courts project in Nottingham, the project has faced a commercial challenge due to issues with the electricity industry’s Balancing and Settlement Code, which we are now addressing through application of our Regulatory Sandbox award solution. The data from the scheme supports the findings of other projects about the commercial potential for installing new solar PV systems on blocks of flats. It also suggests a significant additional opportunity is to be found through integrating such systems with existing CHP heating systems in blocks.

Emergent’s new approach to delivering low carbon energy could transform the rate at which we can decarbonise housing by improving the economics of projects. This is a complex area, in particular with regards to energy regulation, and Emergent’s expertise in this area is second to none. We look forward to continuing to work with Emergent as their exciting new approach evolves and more housing companies seek to deploy the solution

Jim Gillon

Energy Services Manager, Gateshead Borough Council