Pioneering community energy pilot underway at Nottingham housing development

 Trent Basin 445
23 Jun 2017 14:25:30.853

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and the University of Nottingham are leading an innovative community energy initiative which could become a model for providing low-carbon energy solutions at residential developments across the UK. 

Trent Basin in Nottingham, which current comprises 45 homes, is preparing to install Europe’s largest community battery (2MWh), and solar photovoltaics that will generate, store and distribute energy at a neighbourhood level, and launch a unique energy company for residents.

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Business, government and academic partners have come together, supported by Innovate UK, to pilot state-of-the-art technologies and unique business models. The Trent Basin model will demonstrate how to lower cost and reduce carbon whilst allowing residents to better engage with the energy they consume.

Homeowners at Trent Basin will be invited to participate in the project and, by opting in, will look to make significant savings in energy costs. Technologies to be employed include photovoltaic panels, communal battery and heat stores and ground source heat pumps.

The project, which involves groundbreaking research, technology and installation, is being supported by £6m of grant funding from Innovate UK via two energy programmes - the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and Project SCENe (Sustainable Community Energy Networks).

Formidable consortium
A formidable consortium of partners has come together to deliver the scheme, including the developers Blueprint, the University of Nottingham, AT Kearney, Smartklub, Siemens, URBED, Slam Jam, Sticky World, Loughborough University, Solar Ready and supported by Nottingham City Council.

Gordon Waddington, Chief Executive of the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA), said: “One of the great issues of our time is to try and make enough clean energy quickly and cheaply. This is a global issue, and perhaps the greatest technical challenge we face. The aim of ERA is to bring together expertise to demonstrate what can be done through thinking and working innovatively and collaboratively.

“The Community Energy demonstrator at Trent Basin is a great example of how existing technologies can be used to enable communities to significantly reduce their reliance on non-renewable energy sources.”

The Community Energy project is being developed by industry and an academic team headed up by Professor Mark Gillott, Professor of Sustainable Building Design, Faculty of Engineering, at the University of Nottingham.

Impact on energy sector
With over 20 years’ experience in low carbon, sustainable energy technologies and building design, Professor Gillott is leading the University of Nottingham's research programme at the Trent Basin, including the ERA demonstrator and Project SCENe. He commented: “This home-grown smart technology will have a huge impact on the UK’s energy sector for decades to come and home owners will feel the benefits in their pockets with cheaper energy bills. Our aim is to make it commercially viable which will increase the take up of the technology and revolutionise the energy sector.

“We need a mind shift away from personalised household energy generation, storage and use to larger community schemes that provide greater efficiencies and cost savings.”

Councillor Alan Clark, Portfolio Holder for Energy & Sustainability at Nottingham City Council, commented: “I am delighted that Nottingham has been chosen to pilot this innovative scheme. This highlights that the city is at the cutting edge of energy innovation, having the right people and infrastructure to get these types of projects off the ground. This growth in community renewable energy will help to sustain our status as the most energy self-sufficient city in the UK.”

Delivering community energy
Nick Ebbs, Chief Executive of Blueprint, a public-private partnership committed to the production of sustainable homes and workspaces, and which is managing the Trent Basin development, added. “Technologies now exist that mean we can deliver community energy in a way that can bring real benefits to consumers and significantly reduce carbon. The barrier to adoption has been the complexity of putting consumers, new technologies and business models together in a way that makes it all work. That is why Innovate UK is supporting this pilot. We feel privileged to be involved in such a ground-breaking initiative.”

“The distribution system will be connected to the grid and, in addition to drawing renewable energy from community sources, will be able to buy power from the grid when it has surplus and redistribute to meet demand. There is a need to find ways to store energy typically at night when demand is slack, smoothing out the peaks and troughs of supply and demand.

“The way we generate and distribute energy in the UK is inefficient and carbon intensive. It doesn’t have to be like this. With new technologies, especially in renewable energy and storage it is possible to do better.”

Creative Energy Homes
Project SCENe is informed by the University of Nottingham’s multi-award winning Creative Energy Homes low/zero carbon housing project which incorporates a heat network and electricity micro-grid which utilises community energy stores and demand side management technologies:

Residents that opt into the scheme will have photovoltaic panels installed on their roofs, and be provided with smart meters and voice controlled speakers for access to live data on energy created, stored and consumed. An urban solar panel farm will also be installed on the areas of the site yet to be developed and as houses are built, panels transferred to each home.

Trent Basin will grow through five phases to create a new neighbourhood of 500 homes. Subsequent investment will include ground source heat pumps which will generate heat for local storage, distribution and use. Clean, green energy for the pumps will be sourced from the photovoltaic panels and community battery.

A game-changer for the energy market
Nick Ebbs continued: “The project takes our commitment to sustainability to an entirely new level. Our aspiration is to be able to replicate the model, once proven, with our future pipeline of large scale residential projects. It’s a game changer for the energy market.”

Trent Basin is a £100 million residential development which is part of the 250-acre Waterside Regeneration area in Nottingham. Phase One, completed at the end of 2016, comprises 45 low energy homes including eight apartments. Just 4 homes now remain for sale and construction on Phase Two will start later this year.

Further details about the development can be found at

For information about the Energy Research Accelerator, visit


For further information please contact Nick King, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA), on or tel: 0115 74 86727 or 07974 391057

Notes to Editors

Interview & Further Comment available from:
Gordon Waddington, Chief Executive of ERA; Nick Ebbs, Chief Executive of Blueprint; Mark Gillott, Professor of Sustainable Building Design, the University of Nottingham. Other representatives from consortium members are available on request.

Trent Basin is a new £100 million residential development which is part of the 250-acre Waterside regeneration area located on the north bank of the River Trent in Nottingham. Trent Basin is a completely new neighbourhood that aims to connect city life and waterside living, creating a contemporary community for low energy living and incorporating well designed green spaces and communal areas.

Trent Basin has been developed by award-winning sustainable property developer Blueprint, a company that looks to lead the field in introducing new technology and innovative practices to its developments, which are always sustainable, well designed, kind on the environment, and great places for people to enjoy, both now and in the future.

Phase One of Trent Basin was completed at the end of 2016. All 5 phases are expected to be completed by 2022, creating a community of 500 low energy homes.

If you would like to visit Trent Basin please contact Isabel Jones at Eden Public relations on 0115 958 8850  @TrentBasinNews   

ERA (Energy Research Accelerator) ERA is a key programme within Midlands Innovation – a consortium of research intensive universities (universities of Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick), and the British Geological Survey (BGS), which has the overall aim of harnessing the Midlands’ combined research excellence and industry expertise to play a critical role in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the UK.

Via Innovate UK, the government has committed an initial capital investment of £60m, and ERA has secured private sector co-investment of £120m. ERA’s initial priorities of Geo-Energy Systems, Integrated Energy Systems and Thermal Energy will help deliver the new technologies and behaviours that will open the avenues for its future development and demonstrate the transformative effect ERA can have across the energy spectrum. @EnergyRA

University of Nottingham
The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16. More than 97 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is recognised internationally and it is 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.   @UniofNottingham      

Project SCENe (Sustainable Community Energy Networks)
Project SCENe aims to stimulate the adoption of "off grid" energy by home buyers and to research understanding of this Community Energy Systems (CES) concept; alongside how to support customer engagement, energy choices and buy-in to the CES scheme. Project SCENe will design software to aid developers, housing providers, energy services companies and other stakeholders in the energy supply chain interested in the adoption of Community Energy Systems (CES.

Using novel consumer engagement tools and a focus on business model development the consortium will develop and test business model templates that could be used by any developers of large scale housing projects.

Blueprint, Blueprint is the specialist regeneration developer behind design-led, low energy, sustainable developments across the East Midlands such as No.1 Nottingham Science Park, Phoenix Square in Leicester and Green Street in Nottingham. The business is a private limited company, wholly owned by Aviva Investors’ igloo Regeneration Fund and Nottingham City Council. @blueprintplaces

Innovate UK
Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Innovate UK works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy - delivering productivity, new jobs and exports. Its aim is to keep the UK globally competitive in the race for future prosperity.

As part of the Government’s investment in energy-efficient technologies, Innovate UK and industry partners have also contributed £5m to the Trent Basin demonstrator.  This is a key element within the Government’s Midlands Engine growth agenda to showcase the capabilities of the Midlands in a programme supported by the Midlands Local Authorities, LEPs and Government, thereby enhancing the engineering, manufacturing, research and scientific heritage and expertise across the region and encouraging inward investment.    @innovateuk

Story credits

For more information about Trent Basin's Community Energy Scheme, email Professor Mark Gillott at the University of Nottingham or tel: 0115 84 67677
Nick King  

Nick King - Marketing and Communications Manager, Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 74 86727 Location: Coates Building, Faculty of Engineering, University Park Nottingham

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