Project Name:
The Courts
Partner/s:
Nottingham City Homes, Part Of Nottingham City Council
Project Type:
Operational Pilot
Date Commenced:
November 2018
Date Concluded:
Ongoing
Type of Housing Scheme:
Retrofit
Type of Home:
Flats
Number of Energy Systems:
4
Number of Homes:
94
Funding Support:
Horizon 2020; Project REMOURBAN

Nottingham City Council has high ambitions for the pace at which it can help to decarbonise Nottingham, and through its housing arm, Nottingham City Homes, has been testing a variety of innovative solutions for decarbonising its sizeable housing stock.

As is the case for many city councils, a large portion of the housing stock is flats, and the Council was looking for an innovative, smart electricity solution for flats that could help save carbon and reduce tenants’ bills, and could be trialled alongside an innovative communal heating solution they intended to test.

The Courts project involves 4 low rise blocks, each housing between c20-40 residents, which are typical of many city councils’ stock. In each block a communal solar system and communal electrical batteries have been installed, set up to supply customers across an independent private network microgrid. The electrical microgrids run alongside communal heating systems to provide customers with a dual fuel supply of electricity and heat.

Emergent was engaged at an early stage in the project, to support on the overall electricity system operational model and private network microgrid design, including specification of the battery technologies. We supplied and installed specialist metering hardware, including both private electrical metering, regulated electricity industry metering and heat metering, liaising with the existing contractors as required. We created a bespoke dual fuel electricity and heat billing solution, and have provided ongoing services including metering, billing and customer support; regulatory advice; and financial reporting. We are in the process of taking over the full commercial and operational management of the electrical systems.

Analysis of the scheme shows tenants have enjoyed sizeable electrical bill savings (20%+), while operationally the scheme has broken even. These results have been achieved despite the project having faced a significant commercial challenge due to technical arrangements within the electricity industry’s Balancing and Settlement Code, which stipulate how microgrids should be metered, not being fit for purpose. These arrangements mean that the scheme has incurred a loss for every customer who has chosen to be supplied by someone other than the private network operator.

We only discovered this issue once we tried to make the industry arrangements work in practise on the project, and on discovering the issue began the process of engaging energy regulatory Ofgem to find a solution.

This engagement was successful, and having now received a Regulatory Sandbox award to demonstrate a new solution, we are applying the solution to the Courts project. It will result in a significant improvement in the commercial performance of the scheme, leading to ongoing investment returns.

As is the case with Buckley Close in Brighton, the scheme’s performance data strongly suggests new solar installations for flats will be fully fundable for the right retrofit projects, at the same time as delivering significant tenant bill savings.

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