Pixie Energy’s Smarter Norwich project aims to unlock growth

Nigel Cornwall, founder of Pixie Energy. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Nigel Cornwall, founder of Pixie Energy. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

The experts behind a project which aims to use energy generated locally in a more intelligent way hope it could be key to unlocking growth in Norwich.

Smarter Norwich, which launches this week, aims to encourage low carbon energy generation and make investment in such schemes more appealing.

Run by Norwich-based Pixie Energy, an offshoot of Future50 firm Cornwall Insight, the initiative will unveil a vision for energy production to be brought closer to home by 2030, and in the process reduce the high up-front costs of development.

One of its focuses is providing seed funding, alongside Blofield-based Ren Energy, to Norwich Community Solar to install panels at four prominent city sites.

Cornwall Insight analyst Tom Andrews, who will be speaking at the launch event tomorrow, said another project was supporting the Western Research Cluster – made up of the University of East Anglia, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Norwich Research Park – to tackle electricity network constraints.

He said: 'All over the East Anglian region, but particularly around Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich, there are constraints on electricity generated so if you want to get more power for a school, commercial site or research centre you have to spend huge amounts of money on transformers and substations.

'It can be a major hindrance to economic development and there are projects being held up by it.

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'What we think can be done is sharing the capacity that exists. We want to help people with battery or solar installations or by looking at how much energy they use at what times so we can make better use of what is there without spending a lot of money.'

Other elements of Smarter Norwich include the mapping of energy generators so businesses and the government can see the city's power infrastructure.

Norwich Community Solar interim chairman Nigel Hargreaves said changing technology opened up the energy market to a different model.

He said: 'With the rapid cost reduction in renewable generation technologies, including energy storage systems, and socially smart engagement of connected communities, we can create an innovative flexible energy market, which will benefit not only Norwich but also the East Anglian region and beyond.'