Smart Community Project to transform energy usage in the UK

A Japanese consortium is going to commence the demonstration phase of a project to help to transform the energy usage in the UK.
A Japanese consortium, including air conditioning, heat pump and ICT manufacturers Hitachi and Daikin, is to go ahead with its Smart Community Project in Greater Manchester.

The two manufacturers and the Japanese Mizuho Bank are to commence the demonstration phase of a project which will see the delivery of Japanese cutting-edge technologies including heat pumps and information and communication technologies (ICT) with the intention of helping to transform energy usage in the UK.

The 24 million € Smart Community Project has been spearheaded by Japan’s New Energy Development Organization (NEDO) which carried out a feasibility study last year. The project will now move to a three-year demonstration phase running from this April to the end of March 2017.

In the demonstration phase, traditional gas-fired boilers in around 600 social housing properties will be replaced with electric or hybrid heat-pumps, and an aggregation system will be introduced to control the heat pumps in each social housing property. This will facilitate coordination of the electricity usage at each property. At the same time, the consortium will aggregate the coordinated electrical power and investigate its ability to balance the power supply-demand dynamics of residential power users.
Hot water tanks will be also installed with the heat pumps and residential heat retention functions to assess the impact on the capacity, thereby evaluating the feasibility of demand response.
Daikin has revealed the groundbreaking hybrid heat pump technology behind its involvement in the Smart Community Project in Greater Manchester. 600 Daikin electric and hybrid heat pumps, which combine a high efficiency gas combi boiler and an air-to-water heat pump, will be installed.

Unlike other available boiler/heat pump combinations, they work in series rather than in parallel; the flow of one can feed into the return of the other in certain economical operating modes. The boiler and heat pump can run in combination or in isolation.
The Daikin Altherma hybrid heat pump comprises of a single, compact, combined indoor unit, plus an outdoor heat pump unit. It has three operating modes, automatically switching between each mode to achieve the most cost efficient operation. At higher ambient temperatures, when the heat pump has sufficient capacity to cover the heat load, only the heat pump will operate. In hybrid mode, as the outdoor temperatures decreases and the heat load increases, the boiler provides additional capacity to support the heat pump. In this mode, heating water is pre-heated by the more efficient heat pump, reducing the energy consumed by the boiler. Finally, when the ambient temperature decreases further and the heat pump becomes less cost efficient, the heat pump is switched off and the boiler provides the full heating capacity.

In selecting the most cost-effective heating mode it takes into account external temperatures and internal heat and hot water demand, as well as the relative cost of gas and electricity.