The Hold

A purpose-built archive and heritage centre in Ipswich is using a refurbished electric vehicle battery to flexibly manage energy demand.

Our story

The Hold is a £20M purpose-built records facility for Suffolk located on Ipswich’s regenerating Waterfront area. Built by Suffolk County Council in partnership with The University of Suffolk, it aims to increase understanding of the past while encouraging future innovation. One way the facility is achieving this important goal is through the innovative use of a refurbished electric vehicle battery to efficiently manage energy usage.

Partially funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Hold opened its doors to the public in 2020 and includes an exhibition space, auditorium, shop, and café. The Hold is home to nationally and internationally significant archives dating back over 900 years, including a Charter of King Henry I from 1119.

The flagship archive and heritage centre was designed by award-winning architects Pringle Richards Sharrat and built by Concertus Design and Building Consultants using modern sustainable materials and methods. It also hosts a Solar PV array that generates part of the building’s energy.

Suffolk County Council engaged Connected Energy to develop an E-Stor battery (using a refurbished electric vehicle battery) that would optimise energy use to support operational needs, ensure a controlled climate for unique materials, and support future energy flexibility. The battery system reduces energy waste and provides the capacity to store excess energy for use during peak operational hours. The stored energy can be produced by the solar array or drawn from the grid at non-peak times.

The E-Stor system provides an opportunity for the council and university to not only save on energy costs and create a more efficient building but to study and understand battery usage and sustainable technology. Prof. Mohammad Dastbaz, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Suffolk, shared his insights:

“The project has contributed to building confidence in scalability. The technical smart interface capability of this new installation will assist researchers in gaining valuable insights into the benefits of demand-side response income streams and evaluation of real-time carbon reduction linked to Estate occupancy.”

Specifications for the refurbished battery were designed to support the unique needs of The Hold – including a carefully climate-controlled archive facility – and to ensure the maximum use of solar PV panels. The smart battery system ensures that 100% of solar energy is used and enables excess energy to be sold back into the grid. This innovative project was awarded the RISE Award 2019 in New Technologies and Building Materials.  

Our advice

Understand where you are and what you’re looking to achieve – It’s important to have a really clear view of what you want to achieve beforehand and assess the current renewable energy capacity you have in place. Look carefully at your building and overall energy infrastructure to ensure you have a deep understanding of what you need.

Consider carbon and financial benefits – Often these benefits go hand in hand and can be very useful in building a business case for a sustainable initiative. In the case of The Hold, we were also driven by the immense research and learning opportunities that the battery system would offer.

Our metrics

Energy cost savings
Research opportunities
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The Hold, Suffolk