Smart energy's not just for cities: it's for islands too

Thu, 2018-08-02 16:33 -- Doug Peeples

Islands and other remote locations that rely on expensive imported fossil fuels for energy often do it for a very simple reason: they have little or no energy resources of their own. The inhabited islands in the Isles of Scilly off the Cornish coast fit that description. A pilot project led by Council Global Lead Partner Hitachi is integrating a broad array of smart energy technologies on one or more of the region's inhabited islands with the hope that it will provide residents with efficient, relatively inexpensive, clean, locally-produced energy. If the demonstration is as successful as participants expect, it will be used as the basis for creating a model that can be replicated in other areas. — Doug Peeples

Electricity consumption on the inhabited islands in the Isles of Scilly is among the highest in the UK and the region ranks eighth highest in Britain for fuel poverty, an indication that a larger than average percentage of low-income residents don't have access to reasonably priced energy.

Those are among the reasons the region was chosen as the first in what will be a series of Smart Energy Islands projects partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Renewables, energy storage and more…
As part of the $14 million project, Hitachi and UK smart home technology companies Moixa and PassivSystems are installing rooftop solar panels on more than 70 homes, a fire station, a recycling plant, a desalination plant and possibly more locations. The roughly 450kW of solar power the new panels will contribute will more than double the region's renewable energy capacity and reduce carbon dioxide. The Isles of Scilly Community Venture will sell power generated to cut electricity costs for residents.

Also, 100 homes will receive home energy management systems and others are testing additional smart energy tech like air source heat pumps, water heaters and energy storage batteries — all of which will be managed by Moixa smart control systems.

EVs and IoT are also big parts of the equation
Later this year Hitachi will install an IoT platform to manage energy supply and demand. A vehicle-to-grid (V2G) network will be integrated with the IoT platform, enabling EV batteries to charge and discharge as needed to assist with supply and demand balancing.

The Smart Islands Programme, a partnership between local governments, the Tresco Estate (Tresco is the second largest of the inhabited islands) and the Islands Partnership, is taking a social innovation approach as it works to help islanders and businesses transition to a low-carbon economy.

The collaborators' goals include reducing residents' electric bills by 40%, meeting 40% of energy demand with renewables and increasing the number of EVs or other low-carbon vehicles to 40% — all by 2025.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.