Simon Hughes speaking at the BankEnergi Event in London

Simon Hughes gave the keynote address at a workshop to share progress on BankEnergi, held at London South Bank University on Tuesday.  Noting that the project aims to facilitate the growth of a local energy community on the South Bank, he observed “When local people share energy assets, such as in a district heating scheme, it gives them a sense of collective enterprise.  Local production and control of energy doesn’t only help keep bills under control, but helps develop the wider community.”

Noting that he no longer drives his trademark yellow diesel taxi but now cycles to meetings locally, Sir Simon added “We need to create an applied environmental policy, that will encourage lower carbon and cleaner air – for example by cycling or electric vehicles.”  He concluded by noting the important role held by London South Bank University, of which he is Chancellor.  “Universities must also provide a local community benefit,” he pointed out, “and the work that LSBU is doing on the BankEnergi project will help drive beneficial changes to lifestyle among the local community, by encouraging local action to solve global problems.”

This theme was picked up by Rajvant Nijjhar, Project Lead.  “Extinction Rebellion has recently highlighted the risks that we all face,” she said, “but solutions often require advanced technology that is not widely understood.  That’s where support for projects like BankEnergi from the InnovateUK Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme is so important. This has enabled us to carry out design and concept work to see what a local trading system, including demand management, flexibility, battery storage and EV charging would look like on the South Bank, and how it could be funded sustainably.”

Rajvant Nijjhar speaking at the BankEnergi Event

Four example use cases were then presented by Cat Marques, of LSBU, and Michael Still of Bouygues Energy Services Ltd.  These included a wide range of tailored options, including local area heat networks, heat recovery from ground water or LUL ventilation shafts, extensive PV on sports facilities, low temperature thermal storage, high-speed electric vehicle (EV) charging for taxis or private hire vehicles and large scale battery storage.

The project has also carried out indicative work on costings and the benefits that would need to be offered to third parties – for example by surveying taxi drivers on their usage patterns and rest breaks.  Ben Lynch, of Anthesis, explained how his team are hoping to work with BankEnergi in encouraging a greater uptake for proposed District Energy Networks in the area.

Summarising the afternoon’s discussions, Nic Durston – Chief Executive of the London South Bank Employers Group, noted the growing relevance of local energy to his members.  “Our work is all about improving the public realm,” he said noting that when the group was first set up, nearly thirty years ago, this was largely about getting rid of unsightly car parks on waste land.  Since then, he added “there’s a growing awareness of the importance of the environment, especially local air quality.  The South Bank is a place for innovation, for collaboration, and is known as a place where things get done.”