Green Shift from NOBEL GRID - Open tools for community smart grids


  • Trying to create a greener home but don't know where to start?
  • Looking for better ways to use energy saving technologies?
  • Or just looking for a way to better understand and keep an eye on your home energy use?

Carbon Co-op are looking for people to join our Green Shift Community as part of a free, 2 year funded project to explore new, greener energy technologies.

We're looking for householders in Greater Manchester to pilot our new smart meter technology, profiling your daily energy use and employing new apps and devices to help you make best use of energy when it's being produced from clean, renewable sources.

By signing up, you'll get access to new equipment, new applications and likeminded people working towards the same aims.

Key features:

  • Installation of innovative, new smart meter technology in your home
  • Access to a new smart phone and tablet app to help you explore your energy usage and pilot new home energy applications to reduce your carbon emissions
  • Become part of Carbon Co-op's Green Shift Community with a range of local meet ups, seminars and training sessions, hack labs and social media
  • If you already have green home technology such as solar panels, batteries or an electric vehicle we can help you find new applications and even potentially help save you money
  • We also have a limited amount of new kit to give away and test.


  • As this is a research project you will need to actively participate, sharing your experiences and learning with us. This will involve:
  • Using the app to see how much of your energy you can shift from old fossil-fuel sources  to windmills and sunshine
  • Taking part in games and competitions to see how much you can reduce your energy use over a short periods.
  • Answering quick questionnaires and surveys
  • Being open and honest about your views and experiences of the project – both good and bad!

This project is being piloted by other community energy organisations around Europe, our ultimate aim to demonstrate to Government that engaged householders working together can create a new clean energy system in the UK powered by renewables.

Project Requirements:

  • The project is free to join and runs until 2018
  • A short application is required to ensure your home is suitable
  • Depending on your existing equipment, participation will likely require some brief disruptive installation work in your home
  • You do not have to be a member of Carbon Co-op (but you are still welcome to join!)
  • You do not need a smart meter already installed

To sign up contact us for more information and an application form:




More about Nobel Grid

1. Summary

Through the NOBEL GRID project, Carbon Co-op will pilot a community smart grid in Manchester with between 100 and 200 householders, assisting them to work together to save energy, reduce bills and reduce carbon emissions and to provide tools and new business models for ESCOs, aggregators and DNOs.

Funded via the EU Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, the project aims to have a ‘disruptive’ effect, challenging existing business models and work practices amongst energy suppliers, smart meter suppliers, grid actors and energy co-operatives.



i) Stakeholders

The project aims to assist three main stakeholder types:

  • Householders – increasingly regarded as ‘prosumers’ (producers-consumers)

  • Intermediaries eg aggregators such as energy co-operatives that aggregate services for prosumers and grid operators; and ESCOs, ie energy services companies offering a mixture of services from energy retailing to retrofit financing and delivery

  • DNOs (District Network Operators) – tasked with maintaining the local grid network, offering new connections to renewables and balancing loads in a changing era of distributed energy generation


ii) A co-operative approach

Uniquely, NOBEL Grid is using five co-operative, civic and not-for-profit demonstrator sites around Europe for the project. It will not just test technical capabilities but how the ‘co-operative action’ can offer an advantage over traditional, market based approaches.

The sites are:

  • Belgium: EcoPower Coop, a renewable energy co-op supplying 60,000 members in Flanders

  • Terni, Italy – a municipal authority of 60,000 properties that acts as the DNO for the town

  • Alginet, Spain - a town of 6,000 homes owns the local grid and supplies energy to members

  • Athens, Greece - a collection of seaside holiday homes all on a single grid

  • Carbon Coop, Manchester – aggregating demand for energy efficiency products and services


iii) Demo site Manchester - Carbon Coop

The project will take place with between 100 and 200 homes. The householder mix is as yet undefined but a possible breakdown is:

  • Social housing homes, geographically clustered eg. Homes for Change/Work for Change in Hulme, testing solar production and storage facilities; Eastlands homes with air source heat pumps already installed to test automation of demand

  • Carbon Coop owner occupiers, householders, distributed around the city region, committed and interested in reducing home carbon emissions and in testing new energy services and products

Householders will get one or a number of the following:

  • A free, new SLAM (Smart Low-cost Advanced Meters) to replace their existing meter

  • An SMX box – a Linux-based device, likely to be an advanced OpenEnergyMonitor to facilitate new energy services

  • An energy app, integrated into Carbon Coop’s existing site and tools, enabling householders to understand current and past energy usage and benefit from energy services offered through the project

  • Up to five 10Kw storage batteries - likely to be deployed in communal sites rather than individual homes due to high value

  • ‘Smart’ home technologies such as LED lighting and/or heating/appliance controls

  • We would also like to offer discounted solar panels to householders


Services to be tested in the project

  • Green Electricity shifting – notifications to Carbon Coop members to encourage use of electricity at times when generated energy mix is highest for renewables

  • Automated demand shifting and optimisation in homes using a heat pumps

  • Maximising prosumer carbon neutral homes – maximising use of solar PV generated energy on site through use of smart technologies and/or storage

…all services will involve householders in the design, implementation and evaluation of the project, ie householder set the criteria for automation, rewards are shared throughout the householder group.

Due to existing regulatory restrictions it is likely that the activities tested in the project will inform future services and will act as effective research to inform government and EU lobbying. Eg it is not currently possible to offer flexible pricing but the pilot could offer incentives for effective demand shifting.


iv) Stakeholder engagement

Carbon Co-op, its members and other organisations may benefit from the project in a number of ways:


Enabling householders to access new services to save money, energy and carbon emissions, enabling householders to co-operate and share benefits collectively.


eg Community Energy organisations, the project enables such organisations to test aggregation testing, developing business models, testing the technical feasibility of services.


eg Local Authorities, working alone or with community energy organisations, similarly testing the market for potential services, developing business models, testing the technical feasibility of services.


eg Electricity North West, the project aims to develop a 'SCADA' system for the low voltage network to ensure effective monitoring of quality and consistancy as well as piloting demand response.


eg Loughborough University, University of Manchester, provision of research and data collection services, participants for future research.


Eg OpenEnergyMonitor, URBED, Demand Energy Equality, provision of technical services and consultancy on the project


2. Rationale - why do this?

There is much discussion on the make up and composition of future energy networks, ie how energy will be generated, supplied and used. Many actors, including DECC, agree that there is a clear role for Community Energy organisations in developing these systems and acting as aggregators between householders and energy companies and grid organisations.


The rationale for this is:

Current energy systems:

  1. Demand for energy doesn't match supply of energy, ie we want to use energy at different times to when it's cheap and plentiful. Hence dirty, old forms of power generation are used with lots of associated waste.
  2. The grid is structured in such a way that we have large, dirty power stations in some areas and population centres in other areas, lots of energy is wasted transporting power from one to the other.
  3. The grid and the generation of energy is owned by large, multinational corporations who generally exploit customers and operate the system to maximise profits


Future energy systems:

  1. Demand better matches supply: Smart energy monitors enable householders to better match supply and demand, through behavioural change, automation of services and community energy storage
  2. Community smart grids enable de-centralised forms of community and householder owned energy generation and supply, including community wind turbines, community solar banks, Electric Vehicle car share schemes etc. The grid is more efficient and less dependent on large power stations and more able to balance load locally and regionally.
  3. Community smart grids and householder aggregation offer the ability for community and civic ownership of the grid and supply of energy, offering an alternative to corporate control of the power supply.


3. Why Carbon Co-op?

  • The project offers the potential for Carbon Co-op to offer a range of carbon reduction services to members, including an enhanced OpenEnergyMonitor service providing information on energy usage, integration in to whole house assessment service, piloting of battery storage units (with integration of solar panels - possibly paid for by project), installation of other energy saving appliances eg smart lighting systems.
  • It also offers the potential to pilot energy services provision, to explore the option of becoming an ESCO ie selling electricity to members or selling 'heat and comfort' ie financing retrofit, running services such as community electric vehicles, installing low voltage DC networks and even integrating community wind turbines
  • Above all the project demonstrates that householders working in collaboration via a co-operative intermediary can achieve carbon reduction measures more effectively that they can alone or than traditional energy companies can.

This project is unique in the UK in its scope, scale and co-operative element.

There is a small but growing interest from other community energy groups in the sector as evidenced by the Local Electricity Markets conference in Bath:

There are a couple of similar projects taking place in Orkney and Mull being run by Community Energy Scotland: