The University of Hull is developing a next generation energy station that, it claims, will “transform the way we power communities”.
The concept will see multiple renewable fuel inputs, including industry and household waste, earth and water, solar and hydro power, wind and biofuels, feed into several local community stations, where they will be converted to energy and distributed across the region.
According to the University, the concept is the first-of-its-kind in integrating and converting multiple energy sources with significantly enhanced conversion ratios and will therefore maximize the energy efficiency and reduce energy waste.
The network of localised stations will decentralise the way we get energy, negating the need for a costly upgrade of the national grid, by collecting and distributing energy within communities, rather than drawing on power nationally.
They will work by integrating a number of low carbon technologies including heat pump and heat storage facilities, combined heat and power units, renewable driven high efficient heating and cooling systems, and hydrogen fuel technologies to meet the power demands of customers – including residential and commercial buildings, industrial and transport, for example electric vehicles.
The concept is being developed by Professor Xudong Zhao, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Technologies at the University of Hull.
“The UK has a number of critical and challenging objectives around energy, and at the centre of this is powering the economy by ensuring security of supply, keeping bills as low as possible for families and businesses, and decarbonising and efficiency enhancement are the most cost-effective, affordable way,” he said.
“A smart integrated energy system, based around new forms of flexibility, could help the UK deliver its objectives. The station is a unique concept – we will have the energy conversion process take place at the same station which will generate energy at a high efficiency, and waste energy from the station could be distributed across the region.”
In order to meet future energy objectives, Professor Zhao says innovation such as this localised community energy station are critical.
“Delaying action means it is more likely we will get locked into a more expensive, less resilient energy system. This could transform the way we use energy and the way we interact with energy,” he said.