The sunniest, remotest and most energy-poor region of the United Kingdom is poised to become a global testbed for measuring the efficacy of using electric vehicles – charged by solar panels – to play a leading role in managing a low-carbon smart energy system.
The Isles of Scilly, an archipelago located 28 miles off the coast of southwest England, have been selected for a GBP 10.8 million ($13.2 million) project by the Hitachi Europe-led Smart Energy Islands (SEI) project, which will see up to 100 rooftop solar systems, two 50 kW solar gardens, around 290 home energy management systems and a handful of smart batteries installed across the islands.
These systems will be controlled via integration with Hitachi’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform, which will act as a central point of control for an Electric Vehicle Management System and a Home Battery Management System.
Moixa, a leading British developer of storage technology and software, will integrate ten of its home batteries into the system, installed at selected smart homes on the islands that will also be fitted with a variety of smart energy technologies, including air source pumps and other energy software provided by PassivSystems.
The majority of the funding (GBP 8.6 million) for this SEI project comes from the European Regional Development Fund, which will lay the foundations for a global Smart Islands program that aims to cut average electricity bills on islands by 40% by 2025, while also increasing renewable penetration and electric vehicle (EV) road-share to 40%.
EVs’ role in the Isles of Scilly project is key. The EV Management System will control and learn to optimize how EV batteries can be better integrated into the islands’ energy system. The software will employ learning algorithms to ensure that when EVs are deployed they are maintained at optimum states of charge, thus ably supporting the energy system. Solar+storage in the home will also be carefully managed to balance local energy needs.
The Isles of Scilly hold a unique position in Europe. Although part of the U.K., the 2,200 islanders suffer from a low-wage economy and poor housing insulation, making them susceptible to some of the highest energy bills on the continent. Solar power capacity is around 270 kW of mostly residential installations, but this project will boost that capacity to 448 kW with the addition of 100 extra residential rooftop arrays.
“Our systems will support the reduction of fuel poverty on the Scilly Isles and support their path to full energy independence,” said Moixa CTO Chris Wright. “They will be scalable and flexible so they can be replicated easily to allow communities all over the world to cut carbon and benefit from the smart power revolution.”
Wright added that the Moixa technology will enable ordinary people to play a key role in altering their future energy system. “Home batteries and electric vehicles controlled by smart software will help create a reliable, cost-effective low-carbon energy system that will deliver savings to homeowners and the community.”
The Isles of Scilly have only around 1,000 private dwellings and just nine miles of road, which makes it a good location for a pilot scheme of this nature that combines electric vehicles, solar array and home batteries.
EVs are widely tipped to play a larger role in the world’s transition from a high- to low-carbon economy. Globally, 14 countries have plans to put 13 million EVs on their roads by 2020, and if current 60% growth in uptake is maintained, EVs could represent one-third of all road transport by 2035.