A UK university has partnered with Siemens to turn its campus into Europe’s largest integrated power, gas and heat smart energy network demonstrator.

Keele University in England’s West Midlands region is home to 12,000 students and 350 mixed-use buildings. For the Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND) project, Siemens said 24 campus substations will be digitalized, 1500 smart meters will be installed and 5 MW of renewable power sources will be integrated.

SEND is planned as Europe’s first facility for at-scale living laboratory research, development and demonstration of new smart energy technologies and services in partnership with business and industry, Siemens said.

As part of the project, a mix of technologies from different suppliers will be used on-site, which Siemens said will enable a smart analysis of the campus’s energy consumption in order to better manage demand locally according to, for example, the number of students on site at any one time or the energy needs of individual buildings.

The project will be open to companies to develop and test renewables and smart energy technologies, Siemens said.

Funding comes from Keele University; the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS); and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme.

Carl Ennis, managing director at Siemens Energy Management, said the project would “provide a society-based demonstrator for the research community, the energy industry and local communities” and would “be at the centre of a smart and flexible network of energy supply and storage – which will reduce emissions, improve security of supply to the campus and be open to further innovation from the academic community”.

“We are seeing decentralized energy as a key trend in the UK and are delighted to work with an innovative partner such as Keele University to drive this intelligent energy technology forward,” he added.

Professor Mark Ormerod, deputy vice-chancellor and provost at Keele University, said the technology to be deployed “represents a revolution in smart energy technology for UK universities”.

And Dr Tim Rotheray, head of the Association for Decentralised Energy, said: “Decentralized smart energy systems, designed with user needs at front of mind, can deliver greater efficiencies, lower emissions and cost savings.”