Energy system to give homeowners energy bill savings
A community energy scheme in Nottingham has introduced a brand-new energy system, which predicts to reduce residents’ energy bills over the next year.
Trent Basin is a housing development currently made up of over 70 energy-efficient homes being built on the banks of the River Trent that form an active energy community. The scheme is being delivered by developer Blueprint alongside a joint venture between the University of Nottingham and SmartKlub who have formed Trent Basin Energy Services Company (ESCo) Ltd with a vision to push the boundaries of energy efficiency targets.
The system transfers solar energy from the individual homes to an energy centre, which determines where the energy is best placed to be used – whether that’s in residents’ meters, to reduce their energy bills, or out to support the grid.
Mark Gillott, Professor of Sustainable Building Design at the University of Nottingham and a Director of Trent Basin ESCo Ltd, said: “At a time when energy bills are at the forefront of people’s minds, it’s never been more important to ensure that we’re utilising our energy as efficiently as possible. This is the first energy system of its kind in the country, providing a different way of generating, storing, and using energy within the built environment.
“A key component of the scheme is the innovative way we can manage energy assets – both financially and technically. This installation marks the beginning of a 12-month trial, during which time we’re aiming to reduce the energy bills of homeowners and show that a smart, local energy system works to not only reduce cost, but also carbon too.”
Earlier this year, the Trent Basin scheme scooped the Community Award at this year’s British Renewable Energy Awards 2022, celebrating community groups that have been active in delivering a renewable energy project or programme of installations in their local area. More recently, it was also Highly Commended in the Research with Impact – Institution category at the Green Gown Awards 2022, where it was praised for its environmental and social co-benefits.
Charles Bradshaw-Smith, Co-CEO at SmartKlub and Managing Director of Trent Basin ESCo Ltd, said: "My vision is to create a community energy model at Trent Basin that can be adopted by every housing developer across the UK. A model that not only delivers greener and cheaper energy to residents, but also supports the grid as it meets the massive challenge of supplying power to legacy housing neighbourhoods as they fit heat pumps and electric vehicle chargers over the next 20 plus years."
So far, the scheme is estimated to have saved the equivalent of 34 tonnes of CO2 per year and benefited at least 262 people. Nick Wood, who lives at Trent Basin, was drawn to the development for the opportunity to play his part combatting climate change.
He said: "When choosing to move to Trent Basin, the energy scheme was key in my decision-making process. Knowing that I’m not contributing to the ongoing climate crisis has made me feel like I'm doing my part and working with the University and SmartKlub has been a breeze – they’ve been there every step of the way. All this combined means we have a cheap, green, energy source that is produced locally and even my car now runs on sunshine!"
Mark added: “While our vision is to enable all future housing developments to embrace renewables to lower their energy costs and carbon footprint, providing a no-hassle energy solution for homeowners and developers, it’s not just new builds where this concept could be used. There’s the potential for retrofitting these technologies into our existing housing stock too, which currently represents 22% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the London Energy Transformation Initiative.”
The Trent Basin community energy initiative has benefitted from £6m investment through two Innovate UK funded programmes – the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and Project SCENe (Sustainable Community Energy Networks).