SmartHubs SLES

SmartHubs, focused on the West Sussex region, aimed to use an intelligent virtual power plant concept (VPP) to help shape the way energy is generated, stored, and supplied to homes and businesses. It aimed to combine generation and demand across electricity, heat and mobility.

Lead Organisation

Connected Energy


West Sussex

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About the project

The project, based in West Sussex, planned grid-connected and behind-the-meter energy storage, a hydrogen electrolyser, solar generation, and a large-scale marine source heat pump along with air source heat-pumps in individual buildings. A smart VPP platform aimed to dispatch and optimise the low carbon energy fleet to deliver cheaper energy and the provision of flexibility services, and support a stronger, cheaper, cleaner network.

What did the project achieve?

  • Shortly after the project was funded the partners identified significant barriers to delivery. This was related to incompatible requirements of the project as initially planned and the public procurement processes that West Sussex County Council are required to use. This led to the project being restructured and restarted in December 2019.
  • Despite the restructure it did not prove possible to deliver the complex, innovative VPP model within the constraints imposed by the public procurement process and project funding. The project was closed early in March 2021.

Key lessons learnt

  1. There is significant value in a feasibility period for such a project; this would have allowed the consortium to explore procurement approaches and conduct detailed due diligence working with specialist support such as legal experts. It would have also allowed time to ensure that critical external stakeholders were fully committed at a senior level.
  2. Aligning public procurement with complex, multi-party innovation projects can better be achieved with a more flexible project design. For example, a multi-stage funding process could allow significant resource and expertise to be used during phase one to fully scope out requirements and prepare for a procurement process It would then allow the flexibility to significantly adjust scope and spend before delivery during phase two.

Next steps

  • The grid-scale battery proposal has been taken forward outside the project with a £23 million investment in a 24MW, 20 MWh installation.
  • Set up of a Future Energy Transition Hub to harness the skills, knowledge and resources of local organisations.

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