This classification of homes is outdated and does not reflect the increasing complexity of the electricity network with increasing amounts of small scale renewable generation (150MW solar PV in GM), larger scale intermittent, yet forecastable, renewable generation (such as wind), increasing demand for electricity from the electrification of heat and electric vehicles, constraints of the existing electrical network (at the national transmission and local distribution level) and the reduction in large scale electricity generation capacity.
Given the aggregated and cumulative impact of domestic dwellings on this system, homes need to play a bigger role in the future maintenance and management of the wider electricity system.
The 'Homes as Energy Systems' (HaES) project brings two complimentary themes into one holistic, systemic, project and couples 'energy' (embedded generation, aggregated grid services, electrification of heat, storage, load shifting) and 'energy efficiency' (demand reduction, monitoring and education).
When combined and viewed holistically, these two themes ensure that domestic dwellings with reduced energy demand actively contribute to a dynamic energy system and fulfil a 'component' role, benefiting the system as a whole, as opposed to being a load that simply needs managing.
To this end, HaES is: enabling properties to actively contribute to energy systems through installation of technologies to reduce energy demand, embed generation, offer grid balancing services, electrify heating and store energy; underlining the capability of aggregated, domestic sized energy storage and controllable load (heat pumps) to contribute to the management of the local and national electrical network through grid balancing and other network services; supporting development of innovative heating and energy tariffs and financial models for domestic energy demand reduction, on site generation and energy storage; rebalancing regional energy flows - reduced demand with buffered renewable energy capacity which more closely matches the GM potential renewable energy output; educating end users to save energy through better use of heating systems, energy generation and storage technologies and user behaviour.
Over 1,000 properties will receive one or more of the following technologies: whole house retrofit; heat pumps (g/ASHP); PV and battery; EWI; control technology - virtual power plant aggregation and control of heat pumps and batteries; energy monitoring.
The project involves Procure Plus, Manchester City Council (and Northwards Housing), Stockport MBC (& Stockport Homes), University of Salford, KrakenFlex and RetrofitWorks. GMCA have supported via Project Board in a strategic advisory capacity.
Engage early with everybody!
The HaES project team had outlined the project, the technologies due to be installed and where the interventions were to be delivered to key strategic stakeholders.
These groups included Electricity North West (ENWL), the District Network Operator (DNO) for the North West and local Planning Authorities.
Regardless, as the project progressed, a number of challenges were identified with both planning authorities and the DNO.
In relation to ENWL, we identified that the process to apply for connecting to the network was not suited to how social landlords develop large scale heating programmes. The information that ENWL needed to process the application was more detailed than landlords were able to provide at this stage in the process. Likewise, without an indication of the likely ‘approval’ of connections from ENWL, landlords were reticent to invest in a scheme and secure the detailed information required on the off chance that these costs would be abortive should the DNO say ‘no’. This lead to significant delay in installing units.
The planning authorities involved in this project have had requirements regarding noise levels from ASHP units which has caused issues for installations on ‘multi-occupancy’ buildings that required planning permission. Although the sound levels from ASHP units was comparable to the noise levels from the communal gas boiler flues that were being replaced, the specifics around acceptable sound levels from heat pumps meant that planning was refused without costly mitigation measures being installed that took a long time to develop.
Ensuring that all stakeholders are fully aware of what it is you’re trying to achieve, and likewise understanding yourself all the intricacies and issues that stakeholders need to consider is essential to avoid cost and time overruns.
Tenants or householders are also a critical stakeholder group to engage with. Thankfully, project social landlord Delivery Partners have well developed and proven tenant engagement processes to maximise resident uptake in their schemes. The tried and tested approaches were coupled with bespoke literature and information that was developed in partnership with installation contractors, the project wide product suppliers and other project partners.
As such, resident engagement was not a challenge shown by the ‘refusal rate’ of less than 2% for GSHP installations on one aspect of the project involving 210 dwellings.