Peterborough unveils UK’s largest smart city regeneration project

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Plans for the UK city of Peterborough’s low-carbon, smart city energy scheme have been unveiled.

Led by Peterborough City Council, the £2m Peterborough Integrated Renewables Infrastructure (PIRI) project  aims to deliver a significant drop in CO2 emissions by 2030, while cutting energy bills by up to a quarter. PIRI combines a next-generation heat network, electricity network and electric vehicle infrastructure under one smart holistic scheme.

It brings together energy generation, demand and storage, which the council claims will help to unlock efficiencies not deliverable under existing, traditional energy systems. It is envisaged to be especially effective in areas where the electricity network is constrained; as well serving as a blueprint for other urban locations across the UK.

“This is a highly innovative project – one of the most ambitious nationally and one that could become the most significant in the UK’s transition to low carbon infrastructure,” said Elliot Smith, PIRI programme lead at Peterborough City Council. “For Peterborough, it has substantial benefits and supports the sustainable growth of the city.”

Partners in the project include SSE Enterprise, Element Energy, Cranfield University, Smarter Grid Solutions and Sweco UK.

Over the next two years the project aims to deliver cleaner, cheaper energy and the benefits of the scheme include:

  • Locally produced, cleaner energy and heat from waste and with services being low-carbon driven
    multi-utility infrastructure delivery, meaning lower costs and lower bills for consumers
  • Integrated billing and service for heat, electricity and mobility (such as electric vehicle charging) so customers can benefit
  • Low carbon technology made available at cost-effective connection cost
  • Transparent tariff setting will generate long-term savings for local authorities.

Neil Kirkby, managing director of SSE Enterprise, said it sees PIRI as a progressive project that will showcase the potential of smart urban energy systems and help drive local decarbonisation in a commercially viable manner.

“It builds on the ‘whole system approach’ that our distributed energy business offers; where we look to integrate different energy elements into one investable solution and thereby make savings for customers,” he said.

He added: “As PIRI develops, we’ll be able to show how city living and regeneration can be enhanced and we expect this project to serve as a blueprint for other urban locations across the UK.”

The two-year project has been granted funding from UK Research and Innovation.