Monthly Archives: May 2018

Building physics within an integrated energy system

Mohammad Royapoor and Michael Barclay discuss two presentations made at this year’s UK Energy Storage Conference (UKES2018).  Both presentations highlight the importance of building physics in an integrated energy system

About the authors

Dr Mohammad Royapoor is Research Associate in the School of Engineering at Newcastle University.  A chartered engineer, he has been involved in academia and industry working on the design and optimisation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning services (HVAC) and building fabric since 2003.  His work concerns various aspects of building physics, modelling and energy reduction, building retrofit options and occupant
perception of comfort.

Contact:                                 Profile details

Dr Michael Barclay is Architectural Officer in the College of Engineering at Swansea University.  He has academic expertise in building physics and computer simulation and is a member of the research team on a project progressing the concept of Buildings as Power Stations (SPECIFIC), which is looking into addressing the challenge of low carbon electricity and heat by enabling buildings to generate, store and release their own energy, in one system, using only the energy from the sun.

Disciplines such as structural and soil mechanics, advanced materials and construction techniques, renewables and digitalisation have been able to heavily influence modern building design and attract large research resources over the past two decades. More recently, building physics – generally somewhat a dormant science in early 2000s – has been pushed into the forefront of innovation. This is because the interaction between internal mass within well-insulated (and adaptive) envelopes can enable internal zone thermal equilibrium, reduce building peak demands and overheating risks, offer demand side response (DSR) capability and enable owner and operators to use their building as an asset that can offer arbitrage and flexibility to energy suppliers.

The link between two UKES 2018 presentations highlighted the role of building physics as a core component of integrated energy systems research.  The first was the work led by Dr Michael Barclay. He provided an overview of his work into experimentation, modelling and validation of the heat flow in solids.

Temperature change from heat injected into ball-bearings

Fig 1: Temperature change resulting from heat injected into ball-bearings using Transient line source probe [1]

The significance of fundamental research such as this is that it offers building analysts the ability to parameterise mathematical models of complex buildings with validated real-world values. Considerable uncertainty exists in the characteristics of heat transfer in building elements and as a result modelling building energy consumption can carry significant errors [2]. Therefore a more detailed understanding and appropriate characterisation of heat flow in building materials allows much greater prediction accuracy and therefore more appropriate techno-economic appraisals for buildings and indeed the broader integrated energy systems.

The second was a report on Building as a Power Plant project led by Dr Sara Walker, Director of Expertise at Newcastle University’s School of Engineering and Associate Director of the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI). Using Urban Sciences Building (home to the University’s flagship School of Computing and to CESI) as a case-study, the research team is examining the extent to which the building is able to provide DSR to the local electricity network by operating its HVAC, lighting and several other non-critical loads in a more dynamic manner without compromising occupant comfort. Early stage findings points to the possibility of 32 – 35% of the total electrical load of the building being available at any time for DSR at short or no notice (Fig 2).  The integrated nature of UK energy is a reflection of the interconnectivity of our physical world. Investigating the flow of heat in a small tube of ball-bearings enables greater model precision at building level which in turn can inform future control philosophes of a secure, flexible and low carbon electricity network.

Sankey diagram of the energy flows of the USB

Fig 2: A Sankey diagram of energy flow with sub-categories of electrical demand (LHS) in the USB building (RHS) [3]


[1] Barclay, M; Feng, Y. T; Perisoglou, E: Experimental and Numerical Investigations of Discrete Heat Storage Materials, UKES 2018 Conference presentation, Newcastle University.
[2]  M. Mirsadeghi, D. Cóstola, B. Blocken, J.L.M. Hensen, Review of external convective heat transfer coefficient models in building energy simulation programs: Implementation and uncertainty, Applied Thermal Engineering, Volume 56, Issues 1–2, 2013, Pages 134-151, ISSN 1359-4311
[3] Royapoor, M; Davison, P; Patsios, H; Walker, S: Building as a Power Plant, UKES 2018 Conference presentation, Newcastle University.


A researcher’s view of the UK Energy Storage Conference 2018

CESI PhD researcher, Natalia-Maria Zografou-Barredo, recently attended the fourth UK Energy Storage Conference in Newcastle. In this week’s blog, she takes us through the presentations that took place and summarizes her thoughts on the conference.

About the author 

Natalia-Maria Zografou-Barredo is a PhD researcher at Newcastle University and works with the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI).  Her research focuses on multi-energy systems and microgrid operation.

Contact details:

I recently attended the fourth UK Energy Storage Conference (UKES) held on the 20-22 March 2018. This year it took place in Newcastle in the Urban Sciences Building, and attendance was over 200. A consortium of speakers from academia, industry and policy within the UK and around the world joined the conference.

Presentations provided a holistic view of ongoing research on energy storage and portrayed energy storage as a significant asset in future energy systems. Main subjects covered included:

  • Policy and economics of energy storage systems
  • Operation and control
  • Demonstration and commercial deployment
  • Design, planning and integration of storage in energy systems
  • Energy storage for Future Mobility
  • Energy storage in the built environment
  • Thermal, mechanical, and thermochemical energy storage
  • Electrochemical energy storage
  • Gas storage

I attended different sessions. Nonetheless, presentations during the ‘Demonstration and commercial deployment’ session drew my attention due to some interesting questions and fruitful discussions between the speakers and the audience.

Presentations during this session covered both technical and social matters around energy storage. However, questions posed to the panel were almost exclusively around social acceptance of the future changes related to energy storage. And for good reason.

Electrical energy systems do not represent a ‘passive’ one-directional (i.e. from electrical energy production to consumption) system anymore. It is a fact that energy storage deployment (electric vehicles, demand-side management, energy storage in smart grids & microgrids, etc.) not only affects public life, but also depends on a mutual public cooperation.

Discussions during this session brought to realization that the implementation of future research on energy storage after ‘solving’ any technical challenges should potentially be on how to face (and maybe prevent) social ones. It was concluded that public cooperation poses an additional challenge in the integration of energy storage to future energy systems (apart from any existing techno-economic issues raised on other conference sessions).

Overall, the conference portrayed energy storage as a vital asset in future energy systems. The majority of speakers indicated the value of ongoing research of energy storage systems in order to face the challenges from a technical point of view. Nonetheless, public cooperation seems to be yet another important challenge in the deployment of energy storage systems & technologies that should be addressed in the near future.

UKES Conference Opening Plenary
Keynote speaker –  Prof Phil Taylor, Newcastle University


“UK Energy Storage Conference,” [Online]. Available: