Brixton rooftop scheme to shape future of ‘energy revolution’

photovoltaic cells and batteries in roof
Photavoltaic generators and batteries on the roof of Brixton’s Elmore House

A group of Brixton residents has got an early start in the emerging world of digital energy markets.

In a scheme previewed by the Blog in 2019, they have just completed a three-month live trial that simulated them offering flexible power services to respond to supply and demand in the area from a new battery on the roof of their block of flats – Elmore House in Myatt’s Fields South.

The10kW/20kWh battery was installed alongside an existing 37kWh solar photovoltaic system.

Local apprentices were involved in the original installation of the photovoltaic system.

By generating electricity and storing it for later, the system can respond flexibly to signals from the electricity network, with residents saving money on their bills by providing the service.

The “Urban Energy Club” project is an innovation trial run by UK Power Networks (UKPN), giant energy supplier EDF and the community energy group Repowering London based in Brixton’s Blue Star House. 

Through the trial, residents saved around £7.50 on their monthly electricity bills by using the solar energy as well as providing flexibility services to UK Power Networks.

The solar energy produced also helped provide, on average, 42% of household electricity.

The installation of the battery and the introduction of flexible power services are the latest milestones in the second phase of the project. It already enables residents to trade electricity generated from the solar panel system on the roof with one another (peer-to-peer) using blockchain technology. 

young people in high vis jackets on roof
Apprentices celebrate the completion of the photovoltaic system in 2013

Elmore House resident Shirley Wynter said: “Improving my carbon footprint is really important to me, so to be able to be involved in this trial makes me feel like I am doing my bit for the environment, whilst saving me money each month.

“I like the way I receive the top-up rebates rather than just a discount, and if I have any solar electricity left over, I can share it with my neighbours, and they can share it with me.”

Rebecca Rosling, head of smart customers at EDF’s UK research and development centre, said the company is delighted that its Elmore House customers can now contribute to balancing the system by using the battery.

“The project demonstrates not only how densely populated areas can access renewable energy at a lower cost, but also how the power network can benefit from our renewable assets as well,” she said.

“As Britain’s biggest generator of zero-carbon electricity, EDF is excited to see the advancements on this project as we move towards the country’s net zero targets.” 

Ian Cameron, head of customer services and innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “We are really excited that the residents of Elmore House will be now be able to get involved in renewable energy management for the very first time.

“The results of this project will shape our future approach and, ultimately, our aim is to make sure that everyone, no matter their situation, can benefit from the energy revolution.”

Felix Wight, Repowering London technical director, said: “We are delighted to have helped a wider range of Londoners to participate in the transition to a low-carbon energy system.

“We would like to thank all the residents who have participated, as well as Loughborough Estate Management Board and Lambeth council for giving permission for the project to go ahead.”

Repowering London specialises in co-producing community energy programmes with community groups and local authorities.

It helps communities to deliver, own and manage renewable energy projects that provide benefits to the citizens who surround them.

Repowering London is a community benefit society working collaboratively alongside volunteers.