2016 Ashden UK Award finalists
A Cambridge start-up ahead of the curve
Ever sat and thought about the amount of energy it takes to send an email (or is that just us)? Data centres are the fastest growing energy users in the UK, accounting for around 2% of electricity demand. And this is set to double by 2020. Up to half this energy can be used simply to keep computer equipment cool. Most centres are kept cooler than is necessary but Alquist’s innovative temperature monitoring technology allows managers to raise overall temperatures in a safe and controlled manner, without creating dangerous hotspots.
This kind of technology has helped make annual energy savings worth almost a quarter of a million pounds a year across two large data centres. In addition to saving energy, some data centres are now re-using waste heat from server halls to keep other parts of the facility warm, helping reduce overall carbon emissions and electricity spend.
Cosy as can be
A group of 14 local authorities make up the Cosy Homes in Lancashire (CHiL) energy improvement scheme. From external wall insulation to new boilers, CHiL is addressing fuel poverty in the region and has assisted more than 1,000 households to date, focusing on the oldest properties in the most deprived areas. This is a rare example of a local authority contracting directly with energy companies to deliver the full range of energy efficiency measures.
A unique concept driven by Public Health and Energy Officers joining forces, CHiL’s major achievement has been to get all 14 local authorities and Lancashire County Council working together to subsidise energy efficiency measures for the most vulnerable households.
Greater London Authority
Experts in public sector sustainability
RE:FIT is the Mayor of London’s innovative scheme to help public sector organisations deliver ‘spend to save’ environmental retrofit projects that improve their estates and reduce carbon emissions by making substantial guaranteed energy and financial savings.
RE:FIT supports these organisations by providing a simple tendering framework, expert advice and connections with funders. This tried and tested approach is now supporting energy saving works to over 600 public sector buildings in London, saving over 30,400 tonnes of CO2 and £6 million from energy bills each year. Over 200 London public sector organisations have signed up to RE:FIT, including 31 of the 33 London boroughs, 26 NHS organisations and 145 other organisations, such as central government departments, museums and education organisations.
Low Carbon Hub
A catalyst for the big energy shift
A social enterprise championing community energy in Oxfordshire, Low Carbon Hub works with communities, schools and businesses to scale up renewable energy generation and put local power in the hands of local people. Projects include roof-top and ground-mounted solar photovoltaic installations (solar PV), micro-hydro schemes and renewable heat (particularly biomass).
Low Carbon Hub has an extremely compelling vision for the rivers and rooftops of Oxfordshire to be the power stations of the future, delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for residents. Their surplus, in the form of community benefit funds, is ploughed back into local sustainable energy and heat initiatives. For example, money raised from the solar PV installation on the Oxford Bus Company depot in Cowley helped to fund external wall insulation for houses in a deprived part of the city. Win win!
A giant leap for home energy storage
Home owners who use solar energy have long been in need of a compact and smart way to help manage their energy requirements. Moixa’s home energy storage system – Maslow – stores solar and off peak energy for use at a later time. Storing what a house doesn’t use during the day helps reduce energy use from the grid in the evening and can keep energy bills down.
The multi-purpose Maslow is a compact wall mounted unit that can store power from a solar PV array to use in the evening, participate in GridShare™ to provide services to the national grid, and run DC lighting and electronic appliances. It can be installed quickly and offers an easy way for urban homes to make more effective use of solar energy.
A virtual power station
To keep the lights on, National Grid has to keep electricity demand and supply exactly in balance, and when faults occur a rapid response is needed – within two seconds! Traditionally this was provided by gas and coal power plants running below full power, so they can adjust output quickly, but this is inefficient, expensive and increases CO2 emissions. Open Energi has developed an alternative – cutting-edge software which can automatically switch energy-hungry equipment on or off when required, without disrupting business operations.
Large energy users like water companies identify which items of equipment are not time-sensitive in their operation and this equipment can then increase or decrease its consumption within agreed parameters to provide a rapid response service to National Grid.
To, for and by the people!
Repowering London deliver community-owned renewable power stations on social housing blocks and community buildings, alongside social works programmes. Solar PV arrays on estates in inner-city areas like Hackney and Brixton are generating valuable community funds, and the holistic approach means that fuel poverty and employment and mentoring opportunities for young people and local residents are simultaneously being addressed.
Started by a group of volunteers, Repowering London is now a Community Benefit Society with a very powerful vision, working in partnership with Local Authorities and community groups to deliver local solutions to local energy problems. A collaborative approach ensures that the interests of the community are at the heart of any project, and its residents are included in every step of the way.
Sustainable Homes Ltd
Lending landlords a helping hand
First conceived by a group of 16 social landlords working to reduce environmental impacts, tackle fuel poverty and improve the quality of homes, SHIFT is a sustainability standard for the housing sector. By independently assessing and accrediting organisations it encourages delivery against challenging environmental targets. There are currently 74 accredited landlords who between them are responsible for 1.3 million homes and all subscribe to the SHIFT mantra: ‘measure, compare, improve’.
Measured against nearly 40 environmental criteria – including CO2 emissions, water use, landfill waste and response to climate change risks – assessed organisations receive a bespoke report with tailored recommendations on how to improve, in addition to their grading. Participants can also compare performance against their peers.
All set for the smart electricity revolution
This innovative energy supplier aims to change the way the world buys and uses electricity, using advanced technology to connect customers with the cheapest available energy prices. Tempus Energy uses smart equipment to automatically shift its customers' non-time critical electricity consumption out of expensive peak periods and into off-peak periods when prices are lower, often when renewable generation is plentiful.
This market-based business model helps integrate cheap but variable renewable electricity supply into the grid by better matching it with flexible demand. Harnessing flexible demand also enables Tempus to cut energy bills for companies and homes alike. Reports suggest demand flexibility and balancing technologies could save consumers in the UK an estimated £8-17bn per annum by 2050 and up to €53bn per annum in Europe.
Tŷ-Mawr Lime Ltd
Caring for the future AND respecting the past
Up to 45% of heat in old buildings escapes through uninsulated walls. Cue Brecon-based Tŷ-Mawr to the rescue with their environmentally friendly building materials, which draw on local traditions. The company’s founders wanted to restore their own listed property sympathetically and in line with its architectural heritage. Unable to source appropriate lime-based building materials, they began making their own! Their breathable LABC registered systems for floor, wall and roof insulation are specially designed to be retrofitted to historic buildings, saving energy without the risk of damaging them, as well as to newly built houses.
All Tŷ-Mawr’s products help to create and maintain healthy, energy-efficient buildings for living, playing and working. The company is also concerned with embodied energy of materials so for example their Welsh wool insulation is sourced from within Wales – minimising road miles and giving back to the local communities. Real sustainability in action!