9120801_lUK: A Japanese consortium, including air conditioning, heat pump and ICT manufacturers Hitachi and Daikin, is to go ahead with its Smart Community Project in Greater Manchester.

The two manufacturers and the Japanese Mizuho Bank are to commence the demonstration phase of a project which will see the delivery of Japanese cutting-edge technologies including heat pumps and information and communication technologies (ICT) with the intention of helping to transform energy usage in the UK.

The £20m Smart Community Project has been spearheaded by Japan’s New Energy Development Organisation (NEDO) which carried out a feasibility study last year. The project will now move to a three-year demonstration phase running from this April to the end of March 2017.

As part of the feasibility study conducted from June to December last year, the consortium investigated UK energy systems and regulations, interviewed stakeholders including social housing corporations and power distributors and held joint studies with local stakeholders.

Orbit advert 3In the demonstration phase, traditional gas-fired boilers in around 600 social housing properties will be replaced with electric or hybrid heat-pumps, and an aggregation system will be introduced to control the heat pumps in each social housing property. This will facilitate coordination of the electricity usage at each property. At the same time, the consortium will aggregate the coordinated electrical power and investigate its ability to balance the power supply-demand dynamics of residential power users.

Hot water tanks will be also installed with the heat pumps and residential heat retention functions to assess the impact on the capacity, thereby evaluating the feasibility of demand response.

Demonstration phase

About 600 Daikin electric and gas hybrid heat pumps will be installed in social housing properties in Wigan, Bury and Greater Manchester area with high thermal insulation as load-balancing capacity. Last year’s feasibility study is said to have confirmed that fuel costs might decrease if existing gas-fired boilers are replaced with heat pumps under controlled conditions.

Hitachi will join with Daikin in developing an aggregation system by which the power requirements of more than one electricity account can be combined and using the electricity supply market to get a better price for power. The idea is that all members of an aggregation pool would benefit from lower prices made possible by a large economy of scale.

The consortium will also look at a means of remotely controlling heat pumps while maintaining consumers’ comfort. The project will evaluate the impact of external factors such as home insulation and consumer demographics, such as family structure and lifestyle patterns, on power consumption and the balancing of power supply against demand.

“It’s essential we develop cleaner and greener energy systems to deal with issues such as climate change and also that we find cheaper ways of heating our homes to tackle fuel poverty,” commented Lord Peter Smith, chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

“This scheme is good news for the environment and good news for hard-pressed families fed-up with sky-high energy bills,” he added.

Greg Barker, Minister for Energy, commented: “This is an excellent example of how Britain is attracting investment into the renewable energy sector. New innovative technology is helping to make more homes warmer, while cutting energy bills for hardworking families, and contributing towards the UK’s long-term economic plan for jobs and growth.

The project will start in April to be completed by March 2017. The Japanese organisations will invest approximately £22.2m in delivery of the programme, whilst Greater Manchester will also invest in its network infrastructure and improving the insulation levels of the homes involved in the programme.