Rugeley in Staffordshire is set to benefit from a town-wide smart local energy system (SLES), courtesy of Equans, Engie group’s division innovating in district and decentralised power.

Co-funded by grant-giver Innovate UK, the demonstration project will yield lessons – potentially with national implications –  on how energy costs and carbon emissions can be cut.

The pilot has its roots in Prospering from the Energy Revolution, a programme set up in 2018 by UK Research and Innovation.

The programme invited key players in energy and urban regeneration to pitch for co-funding in projects speeding Britain’s energy transition.  Ten pilots were approved.

One of them was a £1.4 million grant to Equans, to design a smart system called Zero Carbon Rugeley.

The scheme brought together a consortium of nine businesses, and included community outreach. Academics at Keele University advised on variables on energy use over the new net.

This month the Rugeley grid emerged as one of three outlines approved to bring their designs to implementation.  Innovate UK stumped up a further £500,000. Equans and its partners met the sum with £1.7m of their own money.

Equans UK & Ireland innovation manager Louise Alter celebrated two years of investment.

“A SLES is entirely dependent on local people engaging with the concept”, she said. “We wholeheartedly believe this has been the point of difference for us.

“We are thrilled Innovate UK has seen this commitment and is invested in our design.  Together with our partners and the wider community, we are confident ZCR will be at the forefront of the UK’s energy transition.”

From the Energy Revolution Challenge, Rob Saunders said Zero Carbon Rugeley had the potential to create transformational change.  Energy could be made cheaper and cleaner for local people, on an accelerated road to Net Zero.

“We are delighted to be able extend the project’s co-funding so that its design and models can be piloted in the community, taking it to the next stage in becoming reality.”

The contract is extended for a year and will be reviewed next March.  Partners include the West Midlands Combined Authority, the county council, Cannock Chase district council,  the New Vic theatre, and the Sustainable Housing Action partnership.


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