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Solent energy efficiency project aims to cut energy use in the home

University of Southampton

The University of Southampton is part of an innovative £10m project, which has just received major funding to help reduce energy use in the home.

Southern Electric Power Distribution (SEPD)’s ‘Solent Achieving Value from Efficiency’ (SAVE) project has been successful in securing £8.3m of funding from Ofgem’s Low Carbon Network Fund, bringing the project’s total value to £10.3m.

The Solent-based project, led by SEPD and with partners at the University of Southampton, DNV GL and Maingate Wireless, will focus on local domestic customers, who will be offered new energy efficiency technology to trial in their homes and will be offered incentives for making long-term changes to their energy usage behaviour.

As well as potentially lowering domestic customers’ bills, the project is also investigating how reduced energy usage in the home can cut the amount that is required for electric network upgrades and also encourage more connections from renewable generators.

Professor AbuBakr Bahaj, Head of the University’s Sustainable Energy Research Group who are the academic lead on the SAVE project, said: “This project, which builds on our research and track record in energy efficiency and data analysis, shows confidence in the overarching activities of the group in energy generation and demand reductions. It will support the utility company with quantifying customer needs and responses to a range of interventions that are geared to achieve energy efficiency in the homes and how these impact on investment in the utility infrastructure.”

The project also involves other SERG members Dr Ben Anderson and Dr Patrick James.

Stewart Reid, SEPD’s Future Network’s Manager, whose team led the project submission, said: “I have worked in the energy sector for over 30 years and have rarely seen such profound changes in the industry.  This project has the potential to completely change the relationship between Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and their customers and come up with a valuable suite of tools for DNOs across Great Britain.

“This is an excellent result, not just for SEPD, but also for collaborators in the project such as Maingate Wireless, DNV GL and the University of Southampton, and ultimately, for Great Britain distribution customers.  It is also a fantastic opportunity for our customers and stakeholders in the Solent area to get involved in an important and innovative project.”

SAVE will also see local authorities in the Solent area promote their Future Solent initiative, which aims to develop business opportunities and promote energy efficiency in homes through demand reduction and reliable low carbon generation.

On completion of the SAVE project, all of the DNOs across Great Britain will have a wide range of tools, which will help them assess a particular network’s suitability for demand reduction through energy efficiency measures.  This will help DNOs to make informed investment choices, which will see customer engagement and energy efficiency measures as cost-effective, low-carbon alternatives to traditional network reinforcement.

Hannah Nixon, Senior Partner at Ofgem, said: “Innovation is integral to the future development of Britain’s energy networks. Ofgem is leading the way in getting the network companies to prepare for the future through our three funding competitions. Today’s 10 successful projects show excellent partnership working with a range of organisations.

“The learning from previous year’s innovation projects is already being shared among the industry and projects are showing real progress. I am sure that this year’s projects will continue to provide crucial learning and enable real savings to be delivered for existing and future consumers.”

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