Innovation is crucial to transforming the UK energy system to meet carbon reduction targets and achieve our clean growth ambitions. And cutting edge energy efficiency solutions that integrate low carbon-generation, storage and energy demand management, will have a significant role to play.
Modern Energy Partners (MEP) is a ground-breaking collaboration between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Cabinet Office and Energy Systems Catapult (ESC), working with SALIX Finance Ltd, Crown Commercial Service and the public sector estate.
MEP seeks to utilise the public sector estate and private sector supply chain to develop innovation energy efficiency solutions that supports the cost-effective transition to a low carbon energy system, delivers savings to consumers and stimulates the UK market to lead a potential £100bn annual global industry.
The Challenge and Opportunity
Transforming the UK energy system to be clean, secure and affordable, will create huge global markets for expertise in integrated energy efficiency solutions that benefit both local sites and the wider energy system.
The UK has had some success in deploying simple energy efficiency solutions – such as solar power, insulation, LED lighting and Combined Heat and Power – but the focus on single technology solutions can have unintended negative consequences on neighbours and the wider energy system.
An initial feasibility study found limited private sector expertise in the UK to design, install and operate integrated energy efficiency solutions – such as combining low carbon-generation, storage and energy demand management.
With the UK’s ambitious carbon emissions targets, including the Clean Growth Strategy’s desired 50% further reduction across the public sector estate by 2032, there is critical need to address the barriers preventing market acceleration of integrated energy efficiency at scale.
The public sector estate is uniquely positioned to stimulate a market for energy efficiency solutions that integrate multiple technologies on campus-scale sites. Delivering demand management, minimising the need for Distribution Networks Operator (DNO) investment, and reducing energy bills and carbon emissions.
MEP’s vision is to accelerate the deployment of integrated energy solutions across the UK non-domestic built environment sector, using the public sector estate as a leading example to deliver significant cost and carbon emission savings and value for the UK through economic growth, high value jobs and export.
MEP will achieve its vision by leveraging the unique scale of the public sector to set precedent, demonstrate best practice and build confidence. In doing so, it is supporting the public sector in:
- cutting energy costs whilst ensuring sites continue to operate reliably and securely;
- designing integrated solutions that optimise energy use and energy assets – at individual sites and with neighbouring sites;
- minimising public sector risk by preparing facilities to accommodate emerging energy trends, such as rapid EV take-up and the provision of energy services;
- exploring how the public sector estate can support wider energy system transformation using flexible assets and system supportive design;
- accessing modular and scalable solutions and low-cost finance; and
- its efforts towards achieving the Government’s fifth Carbon Budget
Phase 1 of the MEP project ran between June 2018 and March 2019, with competitively selected partners from the UK energy supply chain, DNOs and energy managers at four campus-scale public sector sites: Catterick Garrison, HMS Collingwood, HMP Sheppey and Cardiff University.
The studies sought to identify low carbon energy efficiency solutions and strategic energy plans at each site as well as contributing to the development of a generic methodology capable of supporting the roll-out of scalable integrated energy solutions across the public sector estate, including:
- identifying robust business cases for individual campus-scale consumers to implement integrated energy solutions;
- ensuring there is a simple, flexible procurement process and standardised set of legal documents in place;
- addressing issues of access to private and public sector capital;
- ensuring the longer-term benefits are obtainable by using site energy systems in a coordinated, aggregated manner in real time to support DNOs and/or drive cost efficiencies via new trading and sustainable investment opportunities;
- building a network of supply chain experts able to specify and deliver optimised and integrated energy efficiency solutions suitable for use on site design/build/commission tender activities;
- ensuring solutions are robust with regards to regulatory frameworks that are being consulted on by Ofgem and BEIS;
- acting as reference examples of successful deployments to build confidence and stimulate supply chain activity to develop scalable modular solutions.
Phase 1 of the MEP project completed at the end of March 2019, with the studies currently being evaluated. Whilst it is premature to report on specific results, as a general view the project has identified an opportunity to introduce viable integrated low carbon energy solutions for each of the sites that fulfil their immediate needs, whilst also future proofing in support of the rapidly changing energy landscape.
Prior to this, the Catapult and the Cabinet Office also completed a feasibility study in early 2018, funded by InnovateUK, investigating how the public sector estate could help stimulate the market for integrated energy efficiency solutions on campus scale sites (e.g. hospitals, prisons, MOD sites). Energy System Integration Guides (ESIG): Distributed Energy project worked with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Trust and the Norwich Biosciences Institutes’ cluster of buildings and facilities to develop a prototype methodology for creating viable solutions that could be applied nationally to campus-scale energy installations.
MEP aspires to develop the programme over the next two years to further mature the designs and methodology and support the implementation of modular solutions across further public sector sites.
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