World's first prosumer residential community heat and electricity network wins national award

26 Oct 2018 16:00:00.000

The first ‘prosumer’ community heat and power (multi-vector) energy system in the world, based at the University of Nottingham, has won the Decentralised Energy Innovation award category 2018.

Project SCENIC (Smart Controlled Energy Networks Integrated in Communities) is a small-scale local energy system comprising a low temperature heat network, smart electricity network, thermal and electrical energy storage serving seven residential properties at the Creative Energy Homes test facility, on the University Park campus.

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The project is acting as a pioneering research facility for the transition towards domestic distributed electricity and heat generation. By incorporating low-temperature district heating there are improved efficiencies resulting in less energy consumption through reduced heat losses.

The community energy system has also enabled all seven properties to be “prosumers” - both buyers and sellers of heat. Each home can generate and supply heat to a central thermal store, while at the same time taking heat from the network for space heating and domestic hot water.

The heat generators include a biomass boiler, solar thermal collectors, gas boilers and a PV-battery connected immersion heater. The prosumer concept and distributed generation on this scale has never been done before.

Project SCENIC is led by Mark Gillott, Professor of Sustainable Building Design at the Faculty of Engineering, in collaboration with a team of sustainable energy experts at the University including Dr Rabah Boukhanouf, Dr Lucelia Rodrigues, Professors Gavin Walker and Mark Sumner. The project was enabled through infrastructure funding from the Innovate UK-funded Energy Research Accelerator (ERA).

Professor Gillott explains: “Project SCENIC represents the future of community heat networks and disturbed generation. Not only is it one of the first operating low-temperature heat network in Britain, it is also promoting the decentralisation of heat production by allowing home owners to be both the buyers and sellers of heat. By putting the power back into the hands of home owners, there can be a reduction in energy bills, distribution heat losses and carbon emissions.”

When compared to a conventional base case of gas boiler supply local demand, each home owner could save £632 a year through saving, selling and buying energy. Additionally, as the network is reliant on a range of distributed energy generators, security of supply is less of a problem. If one generator fails, there are still six to eight others available.

As a pilot, SCENIC has informed the first real-world community energy demonstrator in the UK on a sustainable housing development, comprising 400 homes at the Trent Basin in Nottingham. The Trent Basin scheme has been funded by Innovate UK and ERA.

Staged by the Association for Decentralised Energy to showcase industry achievements of the present and innovations of the future, the winners of eight different categories were announced at a black-tie dinner, held for 450 industry leaders at the City of London, Guildhall on October 24.

At the news of the win, Professor Gillott praised the project team for their perseverance in achieving this award and gave a special acknowledgment to PhD candidate Sean Jones for his hard work on SCENIC.

“This award illustrates the importance of innovation by developing new decentralised energy infrastructure capable of utilising onsite micro renewable energy generation across the energy vectors of both heat and power.

“Our unique test bed at the Creative Energy Homes integrates a smart grid, on-site generation, smart in-home technologies, electrical and thermal energy storage technologies, a low temperature heat network and hydrogen technologies,” Professor Gillott adds.

Emma Kelly, Chief Operating Officer for the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA), said: “I am delighted that the University of Nottingham team has won this award for their groundbreaking research work into community energy, it is well deserved. The learnings from Project SCENIC are being applied in the large-scale demonstrator at Trent Basin in Nottingham, where ERA has supplied the funding for the equipment needed, such as the shared community battery, solar-farm and the interactive energy hub. The aim of Trent Basin is to actively demonstrate how a community can generate, store and share its own renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions and the energy costs for all of the residents.”

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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named both Sports and International University of the Year in the 2019 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Mark Gillott, Faculty of Engineering, on 0115 84 67677 or

Emma Lowry - Media Relations Manager

Email:  Phone: +44 (0)115 846 7156  Location: University Park

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