Being Smart about renewable energy

Flex Community™ is the UK element of ReDREAM, The European research project funded by the European Union in the Horizon 2020 programme, with the objective of empowering consumers to influence the use of energy in a more sustainable way.

BWCE are working with Avalon Community Energy (ACE), as the UK demo site in this innovative trial, alongside 15 European partners from 8 countries. The research project aim is to find ways to make the most efficient use of renewable energy to meet household electricity demand.  

The project is called Flex Community™, because we are exploring how ‘flexible’ households can be around the times they use electricity, so we can work out how best to match household demand to when there are more renewables available on the grid.

 

Helping match demand to availability

We all know that green energy is the way of the future. 40% of the UK’s electricity came from renewables in 2020, which is expected to keep increasing.

But, there is a challenge facing the industry. Renewable sources can’t be turned up and down as needed, so we currently rely on fossil fuels to make up any shortfall.

Reducing the energy rush hour

Just like with traffic, the electricity grid has its own rush hour. The demand peaks at around 6pm as people get back home from work, which unfortunately doesn’t always match when renewables, particularly solar, are at their strongest.

Any shortfall in green electricity during this time is met by turning up electricity generation from gas or coal power plants.

So if someone drives home in their electric vehicle (EV) and plugs it in to charge at 6pm, the odds are it’s adding to the need for fossil fuels.

How to match supply and demand


Having enough electricity when we need it is a key issue. One solution is to match household demand to when there is more renewable electricity being supplied to the grid. This is a simple, low-cost approach that will avoid costly grid upgrades which have high environmental impacts.

Who are we looking for?

Pioneering households with a keen interest in carbon reduction who;

  • Are drivers of Electric Vehicles with a charging post OR
  • Have installed a Heat Pump OR
  • Use an Immersion Heater as their primary source of water heating OR
  • Have plans to invest in any of these technologies.


How does the trial work?

Households with energy technologies (listed above) will be connected to a cloud based platform via smart devices developed by Stemy Energy. The no-cost smart device monitors household electricity use, the efficiency of the house, and using intelligence on predicted weather patterns, matches household electricity use to times when renewable electricity is available on the grid.

You will still be able to use your energy technologies as normal. Your electric vehicle will be charged, your water and home will be heated. There will just be subtle changes in when they are using electricity.

This is an innovative trial, if you get involved you will not only be reducing your climate impact, but you will also be contributing to valuable action research towards the goal of a zero carbon electricity grid. You will receive a small annual “Flex Payment” as a thank you for your participation.

We can currently connect to:

 

  • A range of Electric Vehicle charge posts
  • Immersion heaters - used as the primary source of household water heating.

And through ongoing development, Stemy Energy are refining ways to connect with Heat Pumps, so we would still love hear from households with these technologies.

Where we are operating

Through an initial programme funded by Next Generation we have recruited participants in Bath & North East Somerset and some adjoining communities. Our focus has now shifted to also include householders living in parts of Somerset encompassing Wells, Shepton Mallet, Wedmore, Glastonbury, Street and surrounding areas.

If you are interested in the project but are not sure whether you fit into our project catchment area, please complete the form below with your postcode and we will confirm.

Want to get involved?

If you are interested in Flex Community™ please complete this form and we will get back to you. If you are not sure you fit into our project catchment area we can check against your postcode. If we cannot yet connect to your energy technology please register and we will contact you when connectivity has been achieved.

For more information please check out the resources below

Energy Demand ChallengeFrequently Asked Questions