Smart local grids

Bioregional is working with partners to make green solar electricity connect easily and affordably into local electricity grids. The result – carbon-free energy, lower power bills for householders and lower costs for housing developers.

Greening the grid

For several years, Bioregional has been working on a series of research projects and trials which tackle a fundamental obstacle to the growth of zero-carbon photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation.

When a landlord, a developer, a community organisation or a council wants to install a large quantity of PV panels on the roofs of homes and other buildings, it often encounters an impasse. The costs of reinforcing and adapting the local electricity grid to cope with the resulting exports of solar electricity are charged to the project. When these costs run into £100,000s or more they can destroy its commercial viability.

The solution is to consume as much of the PV power as possible locally, using batteries to store it on site. Low voltage direct current (DC) from the PV panels is used to charge the batteries, which in turn power highly efficient LED lighting throughout the home and run or recharge a range of electronic devices such as smart phones and laptop computers.

This ‘smart DC’ technology relies on software to control the flows of power between the PV panels, the battery storage, the grid and the lighting and electronic devices which consume power.

The system works to cut peak level of electricity exports while reducing imports from the grid, making individual homes and buildings and entire communities more energy self-sufficient.

Through a £1.2m partnership project led by ‘smart DC’ pioneers Moixa Technology and funded by government innovation agency Innovate UK, Bioregional is now participating in a trial examining how solar-generated electricity can be stored and traded within a local community.

The aims are to reduce average peak grid load by 65% and to double local consumption of locally generated PV electricity. The community where the trial is to take place is Rose Hill in East Oxford and it will cover about 100 homes.

We believe this technology can make a major contribution to cutting power bills, boosting the spread of microrenewables (small scale, local green electricity generation) and increasing security of energy supplies while at the same time helping to remove carbon emissions from grid electricity.

About our partners
Moixa Technology a leading pioneer of Smart DC (Direct Current) technologies which aims to change the way we produce and use electricity. Its ambition is to power the future efficiently and affordably, to help keep the lights on and electronics online, at the lowest possible price and carbon use.

IBM is the world’s largest IT and consulting services company, a global business and technology leader

The Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD) at Oxford Brookes University is one of the UK’s largest research institutes dedicated to sustainable development research in the build and natural environments.

Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution runs the electricity distribution networks in central southern England and the North of Scotland, covering 3.7 million homes and businesses.