Enabling greener, cleaner homes through local network innovation

Enabling greener, cleaner homes through local network innovation

By Jayson Whitaker, Business Development Director, Networks and Construction.

June 2022 will usher in a significant milestone in the rollout of the (recently renamed) Future Homes and Building Standard (FHBS) – a central plank in government plans to decarbonise the nation’s built environment.

While the ultimate vision for FHBS is to deliver new homes that are zero-carbon ready from 2025, as an interim measure, any new homes and buildings constructed in England from June this year must reduce CO2 emissions by around 30% over current standards. For other new buildings, including offices and shops, the figure is 27%.

Why is this important? Well, heating and powering buildings consumes around 40% of the UK’s total energy usage and is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

The FHBS seeks to exploit the benefits of low carbon technology, such as solar panels and heat pumps. At the same time, the new Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard will measure energy efficiency and aim to prevent overheating in new homes. Plans to ban domestic gas boilers in new homes from 2025 look less concrete, with government set to consult on whether it’s “appropriate” to prevent new build homes being connected to the gas grid. One to watch!

What does this mean for local energy networks?

Whether or not new gas heating networks will see a hard stop in 2025, the direction of travel for local energy networks is clearly towards electrification. This has implications for capacity nationally and for resilience at a local level, particularly on sites where supply is constrained.

As local network owners and operators, we’re in conversation with government on how best to meet these challenges. This is important because while overall demand for electricity will increase, a measure known as After Diversity Maximum Demand indicates the maximum shared peak-time usage will reduce, in part thanks to more energy efficient domestic appliances.

This has implications for future network design – and for innovation in load management.

Smart load management and sharing renewable generated power

We’re currently involved in a number of exciting projects demonstrating what the future might look like. In Scotland, a partnership between ourselves, Cala Homes, SPEN and E.ON is balancing on-site renewables generation with demand for power from the national grid.

Consumption data provided by our smart cabinets is enabling:

  • Excess solar power to be shared across the Maidenhill community or exported to the grid
  • Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) tariffs to be paid to households for surplus solar PV energy not consumed within the home
  • Management of energy flows via a smart gateway in each home
  • Optimised availability of solar green power for air source heat pumps and EV charging points

Watch this space

Maidenhill could well become a template for future housing developments. It’s a great example of how the energy industry is alive with innovation, whether for district heating schemes, vehicle-to-grid generation, battery storage, EV charge point infrastructure or hydrogen demonstration projects.

We’re living through the most transformative energy reset in a generation, perhaps even in our history, and we all have a part to play, both in meeting FHBS…and going beyond.

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