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Siemens and Oxford University explore energy-saving digital solutions

Siemens and the University of Oxford have joined forces to develop a feasibility study that will assess the “economic, social and environmental value” of using a Virtual Private Wire Network (VPWN) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to centrally manage the university’s energy usage across its network of 400 buildings.

Funded by Innovate UK, the feasibility study focusses on the University of Oxford’s estate, which racks up a £1million monthly energy bill. Unlike some universities, its facilities are spread across the city. Currently, each of its 400 buildings control their own energy usage. This inefficient approach limits their ability to implement estate-wide carbon reduction measures.

Efficiency measures to reduce carbon emissions

Oxford’s current system employs a private wire network, whereby each individual building connects to a privately-owned micro-grid. A VPWN would help to connect multi-site assets, such as battery storage and on-site generation capabilities, with demand behind a single metering point. It would also mean renewable technology and storage could be more easily integrated across an estate in the future.

This would join up the University’s entire estate and allow them to be connected to Siemens’ Internet of Things (IoT) operating software, MindSphere. Once connected, data analysis will be possible to manage energy usage and implement efficiency measures to reduce carbon emissions. The University of Oxford has the fourth highest emissions of all UK universities and has a target to reduce its CO2 by 2020.

Optimised electricity used as flexible energy load

The study, which runs until March 2019, will explore the following areas in detail:

  • How the energy services for individual buildings of the University including heating, cooling and electricity can be optimised and used as flexible energy load.
  • Balancing energy needs by using technologies such as battery storage and renewable generation.
  • Understanding how the University buildings across Oxford relate in terms of energy use and benefits of aggregated load flexibility.
  • Using Siemens cloud-based MindSphere operating system to connect University buildings to create the virtual power wire network.
  • A roadmap for the University of Oxford to implement the study’s findings.

Benefits of a virtual private wire network

“The UK’s energy infrastructure may need more than £300 billion investment to address the challenges of developing clean, secure and affordable energy and integrating decentralised energy systems,” says Parth Mehta, Campus Lead, Siemens Distributed Energy Systems.

“This innovative study is just the start and will prove that a virtual private wire network has the dual benefits of reducing the cost of balancing supply and demand with reduction in carbon emissions and service reliability.’

Professor McCulloch, Department of Engineering Sciences, University of Oxford, adds: “Energy systems are becoming smarter and more local. This exciting project demonstrates the role buildings can play in emerging energy systems. It explores the value created without compromising the needs or the comfort of end users.”

For more information visit www.siemens.com.

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Siemens is a digital pioneer focusing on the areas of electrification and automation. We partner with our customers to unleash their business potential using our energy-efficient, resource-saving technology and digital know how.

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