Work Stream 4

Work Stream Leader: Claire Walsh

Joint place-based case studies will bring together the multi-disciplinary expertise from across i-BUILD to test the methods, toolkits and models developed within Workstreams 1-3, and to demonstrate the value of the propositions to (in particular) the investor community. A selection of case studies are currently being developed based on development and application of current research and preliminary stakeholder discussions. As iBUILD evolves, new case studies will be co-developed with project partners. 

Low Carbon Technologies – Heat Networks and Smart Grids 

Lead Investigators: Tim Foxon, Katy Roelich, Julia Steinberger, Catherine Bale; Lead Researchers: Jonathan Busch, Stephen Hall

Significant investment is needed in low-carbon, climate resilient energy infrastructure at the urban scale, in the form of enhancements to existing electricity distribution networks and the potential for new ‘private wire’ networks and district heat networks to provide energy services to households and businesses from low carbon sources of heat and power (Bolton and Foxon, 2011, 2013). These will be driven by continuing demands for heating and power services, and increasingly also for transportation, such as recharging infrastructures for electric vehicles, and the need for intelligent management of these networks in the form of ‘smart grids’ to handle expansion of distributed power generation and smoothing of demand peaks. This interdependency between heat and power infrastructures and different types of demand may require the development of new business models that align incentives for energy supply with improving the efficiency of distribution, conversion and end-use, based on a ‘service company’ type business model. Energy service company (ESCo) business models are already being applied in niches, such as the Thameswey ESCo owned by Woking Borough Council (Hannon et al., 2013), and the potential for multi-utility service companies (MUSCos) is being explored in a related EPSRC project (Roelich et al., 2013).

This project will examine the challenges relating to the development of these types of local low carbon energy networks by synthesising the findings from previous case studies of the potential for alternative, service-oriented business models, and undertaking one or more further case studies. The Urban Core developments led by Newcastle City Council (2013) and the Leeds City Region strategic energy projects, have been identified as potential case study sites, and interactions have begun with the Newcastle energy ‘master planner’ and the Low Carbon & Environment Lead at Leeds City Region. The findings of these case studies will be used to inform the development of qualitative models with agent interactions and heuristics for analysing the development of local infrastucture networks and alternative business models. These will inform the potential development of agent-based modelling and system dynamics modelling approaches.

Multi-Sector Urban Retrofit Financing

Lead Investigator: Andy Gouldson; Lead Researcher: Niall Kerr

The Kirklees Warm Zone programme ran between 2007 and 2010 and was one of the largest scale domestic retrofit programmes in the UK – over 130,000 properties were given energy assessments and roughly 50,000 received cavity wall insulation, loft insulation or both. By building on a recent evaluation of the KWZ programme, this work package will develop an analsyis tool that can assess the economic and environmental viability of domestic retro-fit programmes.

The value of this tool will then be tested by applying it to the BES scheme. This is a partnership between Birmingham City Council and Carillion energy services designed to fund domestic retrofits in the Birmingham Local Authority. The scheme  uses public and private borrowing  to provide the initial finance for the retro-fit of residential buildings. The scheme then acts as a self-replenishing fund with fuel cost savings from implementation being recycled  to repay the upfront investment and to act as capital for further retro-fit activity.

The work programme will use data on the costs and savings streams from the Kirklees programme to populate a model that assesses the potential of the BES model to recycle funds and sustain long term retro-fit financing. The model will be able to assess different scenarios for self-replenishing funds in the residential buildings retro-fit market. Scenarios will be dictated by varibales such as:

  • Costs: marketing, administration, surveying and installation
  • Initial capital: level of public and private borrowing
  • Savings achieved
  • Interest rates
  • Energy prices

There is a significant lack of robust empirically grounded evidence relating to the performance of domestic sector retrofit schemes. By feeding evidence from an ex post evaluation of one leading scheme into the design of another pioneering scheme, we will help to push forward the state of the art and to facilitate early learning in what is a rapidly developing field.

The BES model examines the sources of potential costs and the potential revenue streams involved with retro-fitting residential buildings. The KWZ evaluation provides data which enables a ground-truthing analysis of models such as BES. The evidence base provided by KWZ will be used as the data that makes up a new model; one that is based on the structure of the BES model but has multiple adjustable variables and is applicable to any Local Authority in the UK.

The research will apply evidence from Kirklees to emerging experiences in Birmingham in a way that informs the development of retrofit business models for other cities and sectors in the UK. 

Real Costs of Third Party Interactions

Lead Investigator: Nicole Metje; Lead Researcher: TBC

Installation, upgrading, maintenance and repair of buried infrastructure typically cause significant, and occasionally very considerable, disturbance to transport systems, local businesses and society more generally. Indirect and social costs caused by such works far outweigh the direct costs, yet no definitive UK study has established the full impacts on the economy and society. This project will build on Mapping The Underworld, and now Assessing the Underworld, coupled with records spanning 10 years from BAA, TfL and Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions, to identify the true costs, and potential opportunities, of infrastructure interdependencies from physical interventions.

Public electric vehicle charging infrastructure and their back office operation 

Lead Investigator: Researchers; Lead Researcher: Josey Wardle

With any new technology there is a classic ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma, in terms of whether the infrastructure is developed first to support the technology, or the technology is launched first and it is hoped that the market will deliver the infrastructure.  Electric vehicles (EV’s) and their associated recharging infrastructure is no exception.

The early provision of EV recharging infrastructure has been heavily subsidised by UK government, local authorities and private companies as part of sustainable transport and emission reduction plans. However, as public subsidies decline, the recharging infrastructure will begin a move to operation on a more commercial basis.  The introduction of fees for EV recharging is likely to affect the behaviour of EV drivers in terms of their recharging habits (time, location, duration etc.), willingness to pay, journey characteristics and potentially their overall EV usage. These behavioural changes will, in turn, affect the owners of recharging equipment and the businesses operating this equipment in recharging networks. Coupling these events with uncertainties about changes in vehicle and recharging technology and likely EV uptake generate many uncertainties and unknowns around the creation of a sustainable business model for the provision of a public EV recharging infrastructure in the UK. This case study will analyse the changes in EV recharging behaviour as recharging mechanisms develop and change over time, in order to investigate the feasibility of options for a sustainable business model for public recharging.

Water Sensitive Urban Design

Lead Investigator: Claire Walsh; David Hetherington (ARUP); Lead ResearchersBlanca Garcia Navarrete, Alex Nicholson (ARUP)

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is the process of integrating water cycle management with the built environment through planning and urban design. WSUD can be applied at a range of scales, from individual buildings to a whole city. This case study, which is based upon the main shopping street in Newcastle, aims to examine the multiple economic, social and environmental benefits of WSUD projects and using this knowledge to lever new finance from beneficiaries and test new, appropriate business models. Focussing initially on mitigating flood risk, a theoretically designed WSUD scheme for Northumberland Street will be developed. Using a 2D hydrodymanic flood model (CityCat), quantified evidence of the flood mitigation benefits of the scheme will be provided. Subsequently, the economic benefits to the multi-agency beneficiaries, to lever new finance mechanisms will be quantified and a transferable framework and methodology that could incorporate other benefits of WSUD e.g. cooling potential, air quality improvements, aesthetic value, will be developed.