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West Suffolk Council

West Suffolk accelerates smart energy transitions for local business

Tuesday 5 December 2023

The four year project, part-funded by EU organisation Interreg, saw the council work with local companies to test the use of innovative energy technology. The project achieved carbon savings and energy bill reductions, and showed how successful technologies can be coordinated and upscaled.

Work started in 2019, alongside projects in Sweden, Holland and Belgium, with the council partnering energy savings system provider GridDuck to help businesses detect wasteful energy uses. One business has reduced their energy use by 27 per cent while increasing throughput. Another technology that created average savings of £4,680 per user business is an acoustic imager. This detects leaks in air systems leading to quick win energy savings. The imager is available on free hire from the council for local businesses.

In 2022, West Suffolk Council created a peer-to-peer energy network. This has paired businesses who make solar energy with UrbanChain, whose virtual power plant monitors the amount of energy produced and consumed locally. This has proved more profitable for generators and more affordable for consumers.

West Suffolk’s Solar for Business scheme offers free rooftop solar installations to businesses with suitable premises. Some of these have joined the peer-to-peer network, and indeed West Suffolk Council has brought on board its own 12MW solar farm and powers its estate exclusively through the system.   

Cllr Gerald Kelly, Cabinet member for Governance and Regulatory said,
‘We wanted this project to prove the potential for coordinating and upscaling successful technologies. We have learned a lot, not least the value of our role in creating awareness, listening and developing opportunities such as our competitive peer-to-peer system. Indeed the acoustic imager hire scheme was born of a conversation with a local business group.”

West Suffolk Council generates renewable energy through its own 12.4MW Toggam solar farm, and through its Solar for Business scheme which installs solar arrays free on commercial roofs. The council's estate is powered by 100 per cent renewable energy through the UrbanChain system.

Cllr Cliff Waterman, Leader of West Suffolk Council said,

"We are committed not just to being carbon neutral as a council, but to supporting our communities to do the same. I’m delighted that this has been such a successful project and will bear fruit. It is a great example of how a step forward by one organisation can become a step forward for a community. I invite any local business interested  in energy efficiencies to have a conversation with us."