The University of Oxford and Siemens have been awarded funding totalling £158,550 to deliver research into energy management.
They will develop a feasibility study to assess the economic, social and environmental value of creating a Virtual Private Wire Network (VPWN) to centrally manage the energy use of a site with multiple locations and energy sources.
The research will focus on the university’s estate, which consumes around £1 million of energy a month, however unlike some universities, its facilities are spread across the city.
That means each of its 400 buildings controls its own energy use, leading to inefficiencies and reducing the ability to implement estate-wide carbon reduction measures – the University of Oxford is said to have the fourth highest emissions of all UK universities.
The current system uses a private wire network where each building connects to a privately-owned microgrid – a VPWN is expected to help connect multi-site assets, for example battery storage and onsite generation capabilities with demand being a single metering point.
It would also mean renewable technology and storage could be more easily integrated across an estate in the future.
Parth Mehta, Campus Lead at Siemens Distributed Energy Systems said: “The development of decentralised energy provides huge opportunities for universities and industrial facilities to become self-sufficient, however, large organisations cannot easily co-ordinate different types of energy storage and generation across multiple sites.
“This innovative study is just the start and will prove that a virtual private network has the dual benefits of reducing the cost of balancing supply and demand with reduction in carbon emissions and service reliability.”
The project, which has been granted funding by Innovate UK, will run until March 2019.