Innovation Exchange challenge: Balanced Local Smart Grids for Communities

Electric Places seek an easy-to-use integrated digital grid management system for household items, car charging, energy generation etc.

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Innovation Exchange is working with Electric Places on developing a Digital Management system for a small housing estate to manage the grid input, community level and household level use of energy. The desire is for a integrated system that can manage household items, car charging, energy generation and maintain a single, easy to use system. Electric Places is looking for Innovators who have developments in energy management systems that are scalable.

Electric Places is planning a predominantly domestic mixed-use development that would include some commercial assets. The domestic elements will be approximately 42 homes comprising individual houses across a range of sizes, and some apartment/multi-occupancy buildings. The development will have embedded solar generation, heat pumps, and battery storage at building and community scale. A grid connection will be required to allow for shortfalls in local generation.

The site will require an single innovative system that can integrate and balance the generating assets, storage, and usage requirements in a technology agnostic manner. The ability to monitor demand-side requirements, both at peaks and troughs or drop-offs, at building-level to provide energy management at community-level is key.

The system should also allow for the growth in local generating assets and be able to link to the main grid and Distribution Network Operator (DNO) as well as any emerging local sub-systems. In doing so, it will manage relationship with local and external energy providers to support the mini grid and ensure security of supply. Moreover, the system will provide best value and usage flexibility for the community residents while reducing dependence on main grid supply.

Entrants to this competition are expected to be:

  • Established businesses, test houses, academic institutions, startups, SMEs or individual entrepreneurs
  • UK based or have the intention to set up a UK base
  • Electric Places has the ambition to develop grid-independent communities that provide affordable and flexible energy access to its residents. The company has already completed one such development and is seeking to build on that experience gained and deploy a system to track and optimise energy across the estate.

    As well as providing resident homes and businesses with lower energy costs and fair reward to any local power generation the system will provide assurance to the relevant DNO of the stability of supply within the mini grid. This strengthens the case that a 100% supply back-up from the DNO is not required, and thus helps address the grid constraints that impact both new community developments and the installation of renewable energy assets.

  • Electric Places are looking for a single or intergrated system with a simple-to-use control for the homeowner. This will potentially be an app and/or building integrated GUI linked to a full control software system that can manage all the various household device inputs and outputs to create a level of balance as well as optimising for cost.

    • The system would be multi level with:
      Home systems to balance and manage peaks and troughs. Will connect a wide range of household devices in plug-and-play manner, especially high users like heat pumps and car charging.
    • Community level┬ámanagement to manage outputs and demands from the home, and intergrate them in to a community-led system. This will balance and optimise community power consumption and local grid management.
    • Grid level, enabling communities to feed in to, or reduce draw on, the main grid so as to minimise costs and main grid dependency. It will also manage any local or main grid power outages by balancing available supply and demand across the systems.

    For further functional and technical requirements, please see the link below.

  • Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to (the Challenge Holder). The package may also include:

    • Support from Innovate UK KTN.
    • Support in the development of a prototype or pilot.
    • Technical support.
    • Invitation to attend or present at Innovate UK KTN events.
    • A potential business collaboration.
    • Investor introductions (if investment is required).
    • Support if any Innovate UK or similar competitions are relevant.

Related programme

Innovation Exchange

Innovation Exchange

Innovate UK Innovation Exchange is a cross-sector programme supporting innovation transfer by matching industry challenges to innovative companies from other sectors. It does this by putting large businesses with technical needs in contact with companies who have the right innovative solutions, for faster development of novel solutions.


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