Intelligent Community Energy

The Intelligent Community Energy (ICE) project is a partnership between UEA and eight research and business support organisations in France and the UK, led by Bretagne Developpement Innovation (BDI). This is a major new €8 million project part-funded (€5.5 million) by the European Regional Development Fund through the INTERREG VA France (Channel) England Programme. Running for 63 months, from June 2016 to September 2021, the project aims  to deliver durable impacts beyond its duration by improving, developing and promoting new smart solutions for energy production, storage and consumption for isolated and island territories in the Channel area.

 

The project

Islands and isolated communities are facing specific energy issues in terms of efficiency, reliability and sustainability, commonly due to the dependency on external energy supply and fossil fuel power generation, low electricity grid transmission capacity and limited or no connection to wider grids. This generally leads to above average carbon emissions, vulnerability to fluctuating fuel prices and/or supply disruption.

In order to meet the needs of these territories, the ICE project aims to design and produce an innovative low-carbon energy system (smart grid, SG), able to significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emission of the territories concerned (50% to 100% compared to a fuel-based system). It will cover the entire energy cycle from production to consumption, exploit local renewable energy sources and integrate new and existing technologies currently at different levels of readiness, in order to deliver a comprehensive innovative solution. 

These solutions will be implemented and tested on real pilot demonstration sites (Ushant island and the University of East Anglia’s campus), to validate their feasibility and develop a more generic and transferable methodology for the design and implementation of a local smart energy system adapted to isolated territories.

In order to transfer this methodology to other isolated territories, ICE will ultimately deliver a comprehensive commercial offer to foster and guide their transition to a low carbon system. This will include a complete assessment of local resources and energy conditions, a tailored pattern for their energy transition and a set of competencies and appropriate low carbon technologies provided by a consortium of selected innovative companies. This ICE labelled business consortium will lead the offer that will be promoted to other isolated areas both within and outside the Channel area.

 

Research led by the UEA

Prof Konstantinos Chalvatzis, Professor of Sustainable Energy Business and Chair of Climate@UEA, and Dr Phedeas Stephanides, Senior Research Associate in Energy Innovation at Norwich Business School, will lead Work Package 5 of the ICE project focusing on consumer engagement around sustainable energy transitions in isolated territories.

Instead of framing sustainable energy transitions as a merely technical matter of finding the right energy mix and encouraging new energy technologies, the team draws on a socio-technical understanding of energy transitions – arguing that science and technology without society cannot deliver more sustainable energy systems.

The team’s work will draw on state-of-the-art research on public participation in energy transitions and on primary empirical data from the two pilot demonstration site of the project – namely UEA campus and the island of Ushant. Alongside developing a comprehensive understanding of the roles energy publics (can) play in sustainable energy transitions in isolated territories, research led by the UEA aims to track the journey of the host communities through the envisioned energy transitions: the ecologies of participation and emerging everyday engagements with the novel energy technologies introduced. This will help sensitise the commercial offer of the ICE consortium to the social dimensions of a transition to a low carbon system and, ultimately, future work, practical interventions and public and policy debates around sustainable energy transitions for island and isolated territories.

 

Notes

For further information regarding the Intelligent Community Energy Project, contact Prof Konstantinos Chalvatzis on k.chalvatzis@uea.ac.uk and/or Dr Phedeas Stephanides on p.stephanides@uea.ac.uk.

The Interreg FCE Programme is a European Territorial Co-operation programme that aims to fund high quality co-operation projects in France and the UK. It focuses on a range of specific objectives including supporting innovations, improving the attractiveness of the FCE area and developing low carbon technologies.