UK’s first energy trading community to be launched in Hackney

Residents and project facilitators on Banister House estate. Pic: Repowering

A pilot study to directly make use of, store and trade solar energy between residents in a community will be launched at the Banister House estate in central Hackney early next year. The aim of the pilot study is to create cheaper, low carbon energy for all residents.

A £100,000 government grant will help residents in Hackney access and trade their own electricity without having to go through landlords. It will be the first time that electricity is traded in this way between people in the UK.

Last winter’s heating crisis and high electricity costs affected people across the UK. It left millions of pensioners in fear of not being able to afford their electricity bills. The technology could eliminate the risk of similar crises in the future by allowing residents to become fully energy self-sufficient.

The home energy assistant company Verv is behind the technology which will be used in the study. The pilot study is executed in collaboration with Repowering, a London based social enterprise set up to facilitate community owned energy.

The initiative comes after solar panels were installed on rooftops at the Banister House estate in 2015. Since the instalment, the residents have expressed a wish to be able to use the energy generated by the solar panels directly. Normally, energy from solar panels on top of buildings goes directly to the landlord and not residents.

Residents and interns in front of Banister House estate. Pic: Repowering

The new peer-to-peer initiative will allow the Banister House residents to use the solar energy directly from the panels on top of the roofs. Jack Dangerfield, Energy Efficiency & Community Engagement Officer for Repowering, said: “Having completed a project to install community-owned solar PV at Banister House, residents have always asked if there could be a way to use the clean renewable energy themselves.

“Frustratingly, due to the structure of the UK electricity market, this has not been possible so far, and the majority of the electricity is exported to the Grid,” Dangerfield said. “We’re delighted to be working alongside Verv, who are providing residents with the means to take the first steps to overcome this challenge, and start powering their community with sunshine.”

Verv and Repowering will recruit 40 flats in the community for the study. A small “smart home hub” will be installed in participating flats, alongside individual and communal battery storage provided by Powervault. This combination of technology will allow the solar energy to be stored, shared and traded between flats.

It also will give the residents the opportunity to possibly be energy self-reliant. Peter Davies, CEO and founder of Verv, told East London Lines: “What we want to do is demonstrate just how beneficial a P2P infrastructure can be to communities like Banister House, giving residents access to cheaper and cleaner energy and eventually creating communities that are completely self-sufficient.”

The pilot will run for 12 months and the residents are to be recruited on the 6th of December this year. The results of the project will inform a potential further roll out across the UK.

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