Department of Psychology

South-west energy project attracts international interest

Fri Oct 10 14:37:00 BST 2014

 
Teppei Katatani (Tokyo Institute of Technology), Junya Ishida (Tokyo Institute of Technology), Mark Dale (WPD), Dr Ian Walker (Department of Psychology), Dr Susanna Martin (Department of Psychology), Dr Naoya Abe (Tokyo Institute of Technology).

— Left to right - Teppei Katatani (Tokyo Institute of Technology), Junya Ishida (Tokyo Institute of Technology), Mark Dale (WPD), Dr Ian Walker (Department of Psychology), Dr Susanna Martin (Department of Psychology), Dr Naoya Abe (Tokyo Institute of Technology). Also present Dr Miles Redfern (Department of Electrical Engineering) and Mr Surendra Kaushik (Department of Electrical Engineering).

 

The University of Bath has hosted a team of researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology. The group came over to learn about SoLa Bristol, a ground-breaking engineering project run by Western Power Distribution, which draws heavily on expertise from the University.

The SoLa Bristol project, which is supported by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund, looks at homes, schools and offices that have solar panels installed on their roofs. The innovative part of the project is that it adds local battery storage, linked to the solar panels, to see if this can benefit the customers and the local network. There is also a DC micro grid running the lighting and IT equipment at each property fed from the battery storage.

Adding batteries in the homes means they can store free solar energy all day and have it waiting for the householders in the evenings. It also means the battery fed lights would remain on if there were a power cut. The battery system is good for the energy distribution companies because it helps smooth out peaks in demand - at busy times, each building can take power from its own local store rather than the power network.

The project, which is in its second year, is exploring how best to implement this local storage both from an engineering perspective, and from the perspective of the end-user. As such, it involves both electrical engineers and psychologists from the university, working in partnership with community organisations like Knowle West Media Centre and Bristol City Council.

The Tokyo team wished to learn lessons from the project so far with the aim of using this information back in Japan.

Speaking after the meeting, Western Power Distribution project manager Mark Dale said: “The SoLa Bristol project explores a fairly simple idea which could make a big difference to people’s lives, whilst also making power distribution more efficient and potentially saving customers money. I’m delighted the project is already drawing international attention like this and I hope our visitors from Japan will go away with some useful ideas after our meeting.”

SoLa Brostol Western Power Distribution