The RESO (Regional Energy System Operator) is a project funded by Innovate UK in the PFER (Profiting from the Energy Revolution) portfolio. The project aims to develop RESO models for Coventry aiming to bring both a reduction in carbon emissions from the energy system and lower costs for consumers.
There are ten partners in the project each bringing particular expertise. Local Authorities have strong representation with the West Midlands Combined Authority leading the project and Coventry City Council as the design target audience and decision influencer. On the academic side, there are the universities of Warwick and Birmingham. Additionally, there is a significant commercial partner presence, including Enzen Global Limited (in charge of the technical infrastructure design), Western Power Distribution PLC, Chaddenwych Services Limited (with Electron in charge of market modelling), Cadent Gas Limited, Camirus Limited (in charge of the organisational structure design) and Places In Common Limited (bringing the human perspective to the project).
The RESO project with total value exceeding 3.1 million pounds kicked off in January 2020 and is expected to wrap up at end of December 2021 with a sustainable RESO design for Coventry City as its main output.
The University of Warwick’s contribution in RESO is a cross-departmental activity drawing on the expertise of the Estates department, School of Engineering and WMG whose role is also to lead RESO’s Work Package 5 “Informing the Design and Design Validation” and coordinate the university’s input into the project. WBS had significant involvement in the genesis of the project although they could not take part formally due to conflicts with existing projects.
The Warwick contribution arises from the recognition that our campus is effectively a community of some 30,000 people equivalent with residential, commercial and professional activities in operation 12 months per year and therefore is at scale that will give meaningful data to inform the project. The public view might be that most people on campus are students and staff but the reality is that there is also a wide range of residential and industrial occupancy as well. For the past period of over ten years the University has taken serious commitments to improving its energy performance in terms of carbon emissions reduction, as well as their reduction per capita, per pound of income and per square metre of built area, taking into account the significant growth in both the campus built space and its population.
Warwick campus is fortunate in having a CHP station which was one of the most energy efficient solutions available in terms of using natural gas at the time of its installation some 20 years ago. It feeds the campus’s 23 km district heat network and is also able to supply a large portion of the campus’ electricity needs. Additional power has been bought as needed from commercial suppliers through a link to the WPD network. As part of the drive to improve campus’ energy credentials much work has also been done on improving the thermal performance of buildings thereby reducing energy needs. Buildings are now built to what might be called the Warwick standard which is typically 40% higher than the minimum demanded by regulation. Furthermore, various additional measures have been implemented to improve flexibility and reduce carbon footprint through building heat storage units, adding renewable electricity generation from solar PV, as well as some battery storage. Estates have been very willing to work together with academic departments and allow campus to act as a “Living Lab” for novel research aimed at sustainability and decarbonisation. There has been extensive monitoring of energy consumption on the campus, for both electricity and heat, and these data have been collected for many years giving a unique dataset on a community the size of a small town which could be used as a good basis for modelling, projections and smart multi-vector system energy management decisions.
Warwick’s carbon reduction experience and larger volumes of data have been made available to the RESO partners for informing their design decisions. The RESO project is now close to its stage gate review by Innovate UK and the release of its preliminary design. Warwick’s involvement will continue with the design validation work, on-going partner support and some proposed additional deliverables which include providing overview of our leading edge research activities in the direction of transport decarbonisation. At the same time through the project a range of new ideas has been triggered and as a result we have been looking at interventions in the campus energy system that could yield even better performance. Furthermore, this is very much tied into the campus Master Plan which is looking at future low temperature heat network, improved building thermal performance and a greater production of renewable electricity on campus and the surrounding land owned by the University.
Those of us involved in the project are very pleased that we are able to make a really positive input into understanding the energy needs of Coventry City and future market design which will benefit Coventry citizen's. Reciprocally, for us the project has been very valuable in gaining a better understanding of issues ranging from practicalities of energy supply in a city through to insights into how future energy markets may be designed.
[CJ1]Only 8% absolute due to +50% campus expansion