Virtual power plant offering peer-to-peer energy set for Dudley low-carbon neighbourhood

Energy and regeneration specialist Equans will partner with UrbanChain, a peer-to-peer energy exchange company and Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council to develop one of the UK’s first Virtual Power Plants.

The VPP will integrate solar PV and battery storage across a mix of residential and commercial properties in council-owned building stock to create a pooled energy solution, the partners say. This will form a cohesive energy generation and demand management system – enabling tenants to buy cheaper energy through the VPP than purchasing directly from the grid.

The VPP will be sited in Brockmoor, Dudley, where Equans aims to deliver Europe’s first net zero carbon neighbourhood – tackling climate change and fuel poverty in tandem.

The company says the VPP concept empowers communities and asset owners to share 100% clean energy, by integrating blockchain and Artificial Intelligence into a Peer to Peer energy exchange. It will flexibly distribute energy and savings to multiple beneficiaries with no upfront capital costs to the local authority or tenant, Equans says.  It will create revenue streams to unlock private finance or to supplement the revenue of its local authority partners for reinvestment in other projects or services, the firm adds.

Equans previously secured £1.65 million in funding for the net zero neighbourhood, from the West Midlands Combined Authority providing a pilot for decarbonising neighbourhoods across the seven local authority areas in the West Midlands.

Colin Macpherson, Divisional chief executive for Equans UK & Ireland, said:

We are pleased to be working with UrbanChain, who share our vision of making green energy affordable and putting communities first.  Together, we hope to unlock capital for the council so it can continue its bold journey of decarbonising, while improving lives

He added:

This is a truly innovative and groundbreaking project. As well as the promise of reducing carbon emissions, it has the potential of spearheading a step change in energy supply; but more importantly, it has the capability of making real inroads to combat fuel poverty.

Work on the net zero carbon neighbourhood is already underway and will continue over the next two years.

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