A community energy scheme in Easton, Bristol which stores heat gathered in the summer for use in the winter has received the prestigious Regen Green Energy Award for Best Sustainable Energy Scheme.
The scheme is run by Owen Square Community Energy (OSCE), a non-profit local energy supply company established in collaboration between Easton Community Centre, Easton Energy Group and community microgrid developer CEPRO. The technology was designed and supplied by ICAX, and Eunomia has acted as a project partner, providing modelling support through a life cycle analysis and quantifying the costs and benefits of the technologies used.
The OSCE scheme comprises a solar district heating network with seasonal thermal storage, whereby solar panels are used to capture energy from the sun during the summer months which is used to draw heat from the warm air and store it underground using a heat pump. During the winter months, when demand for heat peaks and solar energy is less readily available, the stored heat can be extracted and used for local heating.
At present serving Easton Community Centre, in its next stage the pioneering project will be extended to surrounding homes, offering them affordable energy while cutting their reliance on fossil fuels and so reducing their carbon emissions. Eunomia has calculated that the CHOICES Energy Centre technology, which will supply the homes, can achieve energy savings of up to 64% and annual carbon savings of 38%, increasing to 51% carbon savings against gas by year 10 and 66% by year 20.
The project began three years ago as a plan to convert Easton Community Centre to renewable ground-source heat. Since then, it has grown into something truly ground breaking and stands as the UK’s most ambitious example of integrating aggregated Solar PV, smart tariffs, community batteries, air-source heat pumps with thermal storage and ground-source district heating technologies. What’s more, it is also the first deployment of a hybrid air-ground source heat pump Energy Centre with inter-seasonal heat storage in the UK.
Eunomia consultant Mark Cordle, who is also a Director of OSCE, said:
“What I love about the Owen Square scheme is how it integrates different sustainable energy technologies in a flexible, futureproof system providing renewable heat as well as electricity. And it’s not in a flagship retail store or new eco-build, but in a small urban park for the existing buildings surrounding it.
“Heat storage is a crucial component of how we make renewable energies more robust against peaks and troughs in supply and demand, and it’s wonderful to see this scheme working so well so far. Everyone at OSCE is delighted to receive the award and we are all very excited about extending the benefits to the local community in the next phase of the project.”