Dr Adib Allahham is a Research Associate within the Power Systems Research Team, School of Engineering, Newcastle University and currently works on several projects including the Supergen Energy Networks Hub and EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI). Adib received his PhD from the University of Joseph Fourier in the field of control engineering. His research involves projects around the electricity distribution and off-grid power sector and multi-vector energy systems. These projects are addressing the need to cost efficiently decarbonise the energy sector over the next thirty years by facilitating innovative network integration of new generation, and the integration of different energy vectors (electricity, gas, and heat). Computer simulation, laboratory investigation and demonstration projects are used together to produce new knowledge that delivers this requirement. He has published more than 25 technical papers in leading journals and conferences.
Governments around the world are working hard to
reduce their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. In the UK, the government has set
a target of “Net Zero” GHG emissions by 2050 in order to reduce contribution to
global warming .
This necessitates the integration of more Renewable Energy Sources (RESs) into
the energy networks and consequently reduction in the use of fossil fuels while
meeting and reducing energy demand.
To achieve this objective flexibly and reliably, it
may be necessary to couple the energy networks using several network coupling
components such as gas turbine (GT), power-to-gas (P2G) and Combined Heat and
Power (CHP) .
Also, the energy networks may benefit from different types of Energy Storage
Systems (ESSs) in order to be able to compensate for any energy carrier deficit
or other constraints in energy supply in any of the networks .
In order to comprehensively study multi-vector
integrated energy systems and analyse ESS potentials, a Techno-Economic-Environmental
(TEE) evaluation framework needs to be designed to investigate the mutual
impacts of each of the networks on the operational, economic and environmental
performance of others. This is the main aim of this study.
The paper divides ESS into two different categories
of Single Vector Storage (SVS) and Vector Coupling Storage (VCS).
A literature review looked at models which have been
used to perform planning of the whole energy system of several countries taking
into account all layers of the energy system, as well as different types of
energy storage in multi-vector energy networks. As well as using a case study
from a rural area in Scotland which is connected to the electricity
distribution network only, also benefitting from a small wind farm and roof-top
A framework was developed as a result of the literature review carried out and this was tested on the real-world rural area in Scotland. The evaluation framework provides the ability to perform TEE operational analysis of future scenarios of Integrated Gas and Electricity Distribution Networks (IGEDN). Several specifications and achievements from this study are identified in the paper which is available to read online and will be published in the November issue of the Journal.
 Committee on Climate Change. Net Zero – The UKś contribution to stopping global warming, 2019. Google Scholar
 S. Clegg, P. MancarellaIntegrated electrical and gas network flexibility assessment in low-carbon multi-energy systems IEEE Trans Sustainable Energy, 7 (2) (2016), pp. 718-731 CrossRefView Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar
 S.H.R. Hosseini, A. Allahham, P. TaylorTechno-economic-environmental analysis of integrated operation of gas and electricity networks 2018 IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS) (2018), pp. 1-5 CrossRefView Record in ScopusGoogle Scholar
Hamid joined Newcastle University in 2017 as a postdoctoral research associate to the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI). Since joining the team, Hamid has been actively involved in research looking at planning, optimisation and operational analysis of integrated multi-vector energy networks. He also collaborated with a multi-disciplinary team on the UKRI Research and Innovation Infrastructure (RII) roadmap project, advising UKRI on the current landscape and future roadmap of Energy RIIs. He has supported and collaborated with several CESI Flex Fund projects to investigate further various aspects of Energy Systems Integration (ESI). Moreover, he is working with the Executive Board of Northern Gas Networks to identify the potential energy systems challenges that could be investigated at the Customer Energy Village of the Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory (InTEGReL), through collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team of energy experts in industry and academia.
The international aspiration to reach net zero carbon in
energy systems by 2050 is growing. In the UK, the government has set a target
of ‘Net Zero’ Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 in order to reduce
contribution to global warming . This necessitates performing energy
evaluation through a system-of-systems approach, in order to understand the
intrinsic properties of the main layer/sections of the Integrated Energy
Systems (IESs), from natural resources and distribution to the final energy
user as well as the interactions and interdependencies within each layer/section
This paper provides a systematic review of recent
publications on simulation and analysis of integrated multi-vector energy
networks (rather than energy hubs) and carries this out through the lens of the
internationally accepted concept of the energy trilemma, i.e. Flexibility of
Operation, Security of Supply and Affordability. The significant detail
included in the paper and the link to the trilemma is required in order to
identify gaps and directions for an appropriate future applied research for facilitating
the path to a decarbonised economy.
A systematic literature review of nearly 200 published
papers was carried out using keywords to analyse Integrated Energy Networks
(IENs). The papers have a wide, international authorship (Figure 1),
showing that the topic of energy networks analysis is an important topic for
governments around the world, as this supports meeting carbon reduction targets.
The reviewed papers were classified into three groups (i) Operational
analysis (ii) Optimal dispatch and (iii) Optimal planning, focussing on energy
networks including gas, electricity and district heating networks as well as
their interactions and interdependencies.
A detailed evaluation of the energy trilemma was carried out
for each of the three groups of papers.
The paper looks at key findings, provides insights for the
energy research community towards pursuit of low carbon transition and makes
recommendations for future research priorities including: (i) development and
demonstration of cyber resilient smart energy management frameworks, (ii) ways
to overcome organisational and regulatory barriers for future increased energy
networks integration, (iii) uncertainty analysis of the future performance of
IENs, (iv) potential economic value of energy systems integration and (v) deployment
of smart multi-energy regions.
 Hosseini, SHR, Allahham, A, Walker, SL, Taylor, P.
(2020). Optimal planning and operation of multi-vector energy networks: A
systematic review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 133. DOI: j.rseer.2020.110216
 Committee on Climate Change. Net Zero – the UK’s
contribution to stopping global warming. 2019. accessed, https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/
net-zero-the-uks-contribution-to-stopping-global-warming/. [Accessed 28
 Eusgel I, Nan C, Dietz S.
System-of-systems approach for interdependent critical infrastructures. Reliab
Eng Syst Saf 2011;96(6):679–86.
The COVID pandemic has, for some sectors of UK society and
business, brought into sharp relief the need for change. Resilience is today’s
buzzword, along side opaque phrases such as “build back better”. How can we put
some detail to the call for a “better” future? And what does this mean for the
UK energy sector as we look to transform towards 2050 commitment?
Climate Change Emergency
Many are likely to be redefining their understanding of key
worker as our vital infrastructure keeps the wheels of society turning. The
energy sector is a critical infrastructure for the UK, confirmed by the UK
Government at the height of the COVID lockdown.
Whilst our energy utilities focus on keeping the country supplied with electricity,
gas, oil and LPG, for example, they do so in a period of uncertain customer demand,
since there is no historical precedent for the extent of economic lockdown
which the UK has experienced. Whilst we deal with these pressures in the short
term, longer term issues of climate change and the Government target of net
zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 cannot afford to be ignored. The
Conference of the Parties 2020 in Glasgow may have been postponed for a year,
but there is no pause in the evidence of climate change as May 2020 was 0.95°C
above the average.
How to address these long term issues? To look for win-wins
with the short term COVID-recovery issue is a start. The lockdown has resulted,
across the UK, in dramatic reduction in traffic and air pollution (see, for
example, https://covid.view.urbanobservatory.ac.uk/#intro). In the mobility
space, the need for physical distancing has opened up conversations about
pavement widths, safe space for cycling and redesigning our spaces to enable
walking and cycling and to enable sufficient physical distancing.
Energy Sector Pressures
With vast numbers working and studying at home, the
electricity sector has seen overall demand drop (as industrial and commercial
loads reduce) but increases in use at home. At particular times during the
COVID lockdown, we have had periods of relatively low demand for electricity
and relatively high proportions of inflexible electricity generation (for
example nuclear, wind and solar). This is an issue for supply-demand balancing
for electricity in particular, since balancing is needed in order to keep the
system frequency within certain quality boundaries. The UK power sector is seen
as a world-leading industry, and solutions here have relevance to power systems
across the globe.
Balancing is likely
to be an issue moving forward with more renewable generation, and so we need to
identify appropriate sources of flexibility for our energy systems.
There are two possible sources of flexibility which we would
like to highlight here. Integration with the gas network, and active buildings.
System Integration and the Role of Gas and Hydrogen
The future UK energy system is of course uncertain, it is
difficult to predict what it will be like in 2050. But we do know that system
investment now will still be part of the 2050 operational system. So it is
vital that our decisions are with 2050 in mind, rather than interim targets on
the journey to net zero. Scenarios by a multitude of organisations generally
see a greater role for electricity in the space heating and transport sectors,
and decarbonisation of electricity through greater use of renewable energy
One way to address the issue of balancing for the electricity sector, in this future of greater demand and greater use of renewables, is to better integrate electricity and gas. This would then enable the two energy vectors to mutually support one another in times of stress. In particular, there are options to enable the generation of hydrogen using electricity at time of excess generation compared with demand. This hydrogen can then be stored in the gas network, which could be hydrogen ready by 2030. Hydrogen is of significant interest for the UK Government for applications in industry, in transport (particularly marine, long distance and heavy road, air and rail transport).
Repurposing of the existing natural gas network has benefit
of reduced stranded assets, and substitution of hydrogen into the gas system at
mixes of up to 20% can enable the UK to begin the demonstration phase prior to
full scale roll out of a hydrogen system.
is a new integrated energy test and demonstration facility in Gateshead, north
east England. Led by Northern Gas Networks and in partnership with Northern
Powergrid and Newcastle University, the facility is a second phase demonstrator
for the HyDeploy project, to test the blend of hydrogen in natural gas networks
for a range of customers and networks.
Flexibility in Demand – The Role of Active Buildings
10% of UK households (2018 figure) are classed as being in
fuel poverty, although up to date figures are unavailable. Longer term impacts
to incomes of households during an economic downturn, and increased energy use
by households, are likely to push numbers of fuel poor upwards. The UK faces a significant
risk, as we move towards colder winter months, of a growth in cold-related
illness and excess winter deaths at the same time as our NHS struggles to
recover from COVID.
A win-win is to address the poor housing stock in the UK. A retrofit stimulus aimed at the construction sector has a significant advantage in terms of job creation. Furthermore, these are local jobs, contributing to the Government’s ambition to “level-up” the regions and nations of the UK. Retrofit investment has the potential to move households out of fuel poverty. Energy efficiency has been highlighted by a number of organisations as a vital element of a green economic recovery for the UK. By improving our housing stock in a way which enables the building to play an active role on energy networks, the buildings can also provide flexibility to those networks. This might involve using more energy at times when it is abundant and cheap, charging up electric vehicles and filling heat and electrical storage in the home. It might also involve demand reduction at times of network stress and demand peak. So this might involve using local generation, home energy storage, and turning down or off certain loads (such as heat pumps).
The case for change in our energy sector was powerful pre-Covid, it is even more so today. In light of the Government’s own 2050 target, we must not lose this catalytic moment to take action. There is much to do, and taking urgent action trumps more debate and prevarication. The energy transition is no longer an aspiration, it is an imperative.
Dr Susan Claire Scholes is a postdoctoral research associate with the Supergen Energy Networks Hub at Newcastle University
The new extraordinary?
10th May 2020, the GB electricity network encountered an
extraordinary occurrence which, with the increase of electricity generation by
renewable sources, is unlikely to remain extraordinary in future times.
During the early hours of the morning on Sunday 10th May, there was forecasted high wind along with other inflexible generation that would lead to an excess of electricity generation at a time of low demand. This could lead to system instability and the associated problems of system imbalance. Shortly before this event, National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) had introduced a new control mechanism that was targeted at the changes in power needs and potential excess generation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (less capacity required by industry along with greater numbers of people working from home). This was the voluntary termination of distributed generation known as Optional Downward Flexibility Management (ODFM).
Optional Downward Flexiblity Management (ODFM)
ODFM is a new tool to balance the system at times of low demand. When extremely low demand coincides with periods of higher generation due to renewable sources this could lead to significant operational risk. ODFM allows providers to offer termination of their services for a period of time to reduce electricity generation and help balance the system. Along with this, the National Grid has also recently approved a Grid Code modification allowing the ESO to instruct a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to disconnect embedded generation in emergency events. On May 10th 2020, the forecast suggested the need to use the Grid Code service during a period of high forecasted wind generation and low demand in the early hours of the morning. During the actual event, however, the timing of this wind peak shifted to between the hours of 04:00 – 07:00 and emergency termination of embedded distributed generation was not necessary1. Embedded generation was cut through the new ODFM service. The peak generation was further managed using Market Coupling, with lower importing from and some exporting to our European links via the interconnectors.
The interconnector use can be seen in the figures
below. Figure 1 shows the interconnector
use during this period of low demand and high generation in GB (04:00 – 07:00 outlined),
where import to GB is positive and export from GB is negative. The second figure (Figure 2) is the
interconnector use a week earlier during normal demand and generation. These clearly show that the Market Coupling
service was taken advantage of on 10th May.
Services from interconnectors
Selling power to the continent to create exports on the
interconnectors, to help balance our system, is an action that National Grid
ESO prioritises above the new ODFM, providing the associated costs (price differentials)
are financially beneficial to GB; and is an example of the many services
interconnectors could provide to the electricity system.
Further services that could be on offer from the
interconnectors include Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR), black start or
frequency response. Of course, the availability
of these services will depend on the price differential to allow it to be
financially beneficial to use the interconnectors in this way. Currently GB has 5 GW of interconnector
capacity (2 GW to France (IFA), 1 GW to the Netherlands (BritNed), 500 MW to
Northern Ireland (Moyle) (although only half of this is available due to subsea
cabling defects), 500 MW to the Republic of Ireland (East West) and the most
recent addition 1 GW to Belgium (NEMO)).
Further interconnectors are planned; at the time of writing an
additional 6.7 GW of power is scheduled to become available through new
interconnector links by 2022. This will
more than double the power that is available to Great Britain through the
interconnectors. This increase in power availability
through the numerous additional interconnectors is likely to have an effect on
the price differences between countries.
The predicted decreased price differential will reduce the earnings from
the sale of power through the interconnectors so the purchase from/to Europe
will be less financially beneficial, potentially leading to other opportunities
for the use of interconnectors for ancillary services.
There are other potential solutions for an imbalance of
demand and generation in the future.
These are multi-vector solutions that involve the whole energy
system. Excess electricity generation
could be used to create hydrogen to then either be stored for future use; or
this hydrogen could be blended into the gas network. In addition to this, the consumer could play
a more active role in system demand by participating in active demand response
(ADR). In ADR the consumer may adjust
their demand in response to the requirements of the ESO; importantly, the
consumer would need to have the flexibility to increase demand or reduce demand
(e.g. charging of electric vehicles at appropriate times, smart appliances such
as washing machines and dishwashers).
Limitations of interconnectors?
There may, however, be limitations on the use of interconnectors
for these balancing services. The time
difference between GB and the interconnected countries is one hour, and therefore
times of low demand in GB are likely to also be times of low demand in these
countries. Furthermore, power exchanges
over the interconnectors are driven by price differences, whether it is cheaper
to import power or more beneficial to export power. During times of low demand and high
generation, we would need to ensure we are exporting power, which would mean
ensuring our prices encourage this, but we would still be reliant on the need
of other countries to import this power.
In addition to this, the capacity on the interconnectors may be capped
due to operability constraints, thus limiting the power availability for these
Extreme events of today may be an insight into our future
challenges, for the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target of 2050. The changes in energy needs highlighted by
the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed us to anticipate future energy dilemmas that
may occur due to the likely excess electricity generation from renewables. This has given us an advanced insight into
the potential solutions for these problems.
On 10th May 2020, intelligent use of the
interconnectors allowed us to prioritise electricity generation from renewable
sources within GB. This demonstrates the
benefits of interconnectors to:
balance our system
meet demand at a good price (importing from
other countries) and
export excess generation (to other countries at
a low price) during times of low demand and high generation from renewable
Thus, both ends of the
interconnected countries benefit from this intelligent use of interconnector
From the 29 April to the 1 June 2020, the Supergen Energy Networks Hub organised and delivered a six week online conference programme which attracted more than 480 registrations.
Phil Taylor, opened the conference with an overview of the Energy Networks (EN) Hub introducing the Supergen EN Co-Investigators and the Research Project Coordinators, working across the hub from Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Cardiff and Bath and illustrating how the hub community has grown since starting in October 2018.
Phil discussed the core research programme as well as the
activities and roles which are currently being undertaken by the hub as well as
the 3 Working Groups on Architectures, Climate Adaptation & Mitigation and
Markets & Regulation which have been established.
Chaired by Nazmiye Ozkan, Cranfield University, we held three separate Network Interdependency sessions. The first session was presented by Bethan Winter, Wales & West Utilities on Network Interdependencies: Gas Networks: The Key to Unlocking Renewable Energy. Bethan discussed how networks are becoming increasingly integrated and that investment in new technologies will be required with whole system and regional modelling essential to provide insight on future network usage.
The second session concentrated on the UK Power Blackout, August 2019and this was presented by Janusz Bialek, Newcastle University. Janusz talked about the UK power outage on the 9 August 2019 and what this tells us about GB power systems. He advised that the power system reacted largely as expected to a non-secured contingency, however unexpected train failures caused wide spread disruption and public anger, concluding that interactions between the power system and critical infrastructures should be reviewed.
Spyros Skarvelis-Kazakos, Sussex University and Mathaios Panteli, Manchester University, presented our third Network Interdependencies session. They presented the outline of their future work based on COVID19 and the impact of interdependent infrastructure including resilience and sector interdependencies.
Our session on Climate Adaptation & Mitigation was presented by Alberto Troccoli, World Energy & Meteorology Council (WEMC). Alberto discussed Energy & Meteorology (weather and climate), looking at the basics of climate modelling and climate impacts on networks which could potentially cause large losses. The session was chaired by Konstantinos Chalvatzis, University of East Anglia.
Mary Susan Abbo, Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC) presented a keynote presentation on Energy Networks in Uganda and Africa. The presentation including statistics on the energy status in Uganda, noting that 69% of Ugandans use three stone fires for cooking. Mary Susan discussed several large Hydropower Projects which are currently in planning across the country.
CREEC goal is to enhance access to modern types of energy through research, training and consultancy in East Africa
On the 11 May we welcomed our first panel session of the online conference. Chaired by Karen Henwood, Cardiff University, the panel consisted of both Industry and Academia who presented on the Societal Perspectives of Energy Networks. The session was entitled: Network Resilience and Intersectoral Connectivity: Energy Infrastructure, Carbon Literacy and Vulnerability. The session started with a short talk from Peter Smith, National Energy Action (NEA). Peter discussed existing drivers for fuel poverty and NEA’s collaborations with networks, as well as their previous and current work with GDNs and DNO’s and opportunities for upcoming RIIO2 consultation.
Muditha Abeysekera, Cardiff University presented his work on Decarbonisation of the Public Sector which included a background of the public estate which consumes 6% of the UK’s energy supply, with the government spending over £2billion per annum on its energy bills. Muditha concluded his talk advising that ‘good quality energy data collection and analysis is an important area that needs improvement and that accessible, user -friendly ‘decision support tools’ are needed to identify improvement opportunities of public sector energy systems’.
Our third talk in this session was from Simon Roberts,
Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE). Simon discussed why we need an energy
system that is both ‘smart and fair’ and the role of energy network companies
in delivering it.
Keith Owen, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) discussed the Net Zero Challenge, GB Energy Consumption and advised on the numerous GB Gas Industry projects throughout the country, specifically those which NGN are involved in: HyDeploy and H21 (Link) as well as an update on the InTEGReL (Integrated Transport Electricity and Gas Research Laboratory) project based in Gateshead which is in collaboration with Newcastle University, Northern Powergrid and Siemens among others.
The Early Career Researcher (ECR) session on the 20 May, chaired by Robin Preece, Manchester University consisted of several presenters from Academia and Industry. The session focused on Career Pathways for Early Career Researchers starting with a talk from Keith Bell, Strathclyde University and his pathway to becoming a Professor as well as a talk from Tingyan Guo, consultant at Deloitte and how she has moved into Industry following completion of her PhD in Electrical Energy and Power Systems. We also had talks from Rose Chard, Energy Systems Catapult, Celia Butler, Synopsys, Jacqueline Edge, Imperial College and Nick Wooley, ev.energy.
As part of the conference we held an offshore session which was hosted by Lars Johanning, University of Exeter and featured talks from Industry and Academia. Simon Cheeseman, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult discussedTidal Stream & Hydrogen System Integration, how the energy system will differ significantly to the existing energy system in 2050, with the majority of electricity expected to be generated by renewable sources including offshore wind.
Ajit Pillai, University of Exeter talked about the complex bathymetry which is considered when locating wind turbines such as high seabed slope and wrecks and AI approaches for the Offshore Cable Network reliability based design. The third talk in this session was from David Parish, Planet A solutions, discussed a case for symbiotic, cross vector, multi technology networks and the need for a flexible microgrid with cross vector energy flows preventing network stress.
Michael Pollitt, Cambridge University spoke about the Regulation of Energy Marketsincluding his work on the MERLIN (Modelling the Economic Reactions Linking Individual Networks) project.
‘Having a supportive regulatory environment around flexibility procurement is crucial’
The session also included a talk from Rebecca Willis, Lancaster University. Rebecca discussed getting Energy Governance right, the GB Energy Governance: current institutions and responsibilities which include BEIS, DfT and Defra and how an Energy Transformation Commission, a coordinating body, may be able to act on behalf of the government by pulling together the different government departments
The Digital Networks Session, chaired by Myriam Neaimeh, Alan Turing Institute involved 3 presentations from Myriam, Dragan Cetenovic, Manchester University and Xavier Bellekens, Strathclyde University.
[Cyber Security] costing £27billion p.a)
The session included information on Digital Twinning, a cloud based platform to modernise energy data access and network planning as well as real-time state estimation and FDI (False Data Injection) attacks and the challenges of cyber-threat detection and mitigation for energy networks. Understanding complex threats from Tier 1 to Tier 6 attackers and the energy challenges which need to be thought about in anticipation of a Cyber attack.
Our final conference session was an Industrial keynote
from Emma Pinchbeck, Energy UK and Rebecca Williamson, Renewable
Emma and Rebecca discussed how to get to net zero and the changing energy industry in relation to electricity, hydrogen and land use, etc as well as technology innovation to make use of onshore and offshore wind.
Chair, Sara Walker, Newcastle University,
concluded the conference with a summary of the online programme.
Over the six week period we delivered fourteen
online conference sessions with thirty-two speakers from Industry
and Academia and a live attendance of between 50 – 100 delegates
dialling in to each session.
A feedback form has been sent through to all conference
delegates, our aim is for their feedback to add to our own reflections.
[The conference] was a great event –lots of interesting discussions and ideas for potential proposals
In moving forward we aim to ensure sessions have a more
diverse range of speaker and that dial in details can be distributed in a more
‘The conference has gone from a potential another cancelled event to a great success!’
If you would like any further information regarding the
online conference programme please contact Lindsey Allen or Linda Ward firstname.lastname@example.org
Feedback provided to BEIS Panel of Technical Experts on ‘Modelling de-rating factor ranges for interconnected countries in the capacity market in the 2020 Electricity Capacity Report’
The GB capacity market is designed to ensure that there is
enough electrical generating capacity to meet peak demands. Approximately £700
million was allocated in the ‘T-4’ capacity auction in 2020, with the portfolio
covering a range of technologies, including renewables, demand side response,
and interconnectors. With the total capacity of electrical interconnectors doubling
to more than 20% of peak demand in the next five years, they can and do make a
substantial contribution to GB system security.
Determining a monetary value for the security contribution of interconnectors is difficult compared to that of either conventional or renewable capacity, as interconnectors can both increase and reduce system demands. Earlier this month, the Supergen Energy Network (SEN) Hub responded to a call for feedback from the Electricity Market Reform (EMR) Delivery Body on the methodology for calculating interconnector de-rating factors (a link to our response). The call is of interest to the SEN hub as it lies at the intersection of network operation with ‘Markets and Regulation’ and ‘Risk and Reliability’ work packages.
What is the GB Capacity Market for?
The UK Government’s EMR reforms of 2013 attempts to solve
the ‘missing money’ problem in medium term planning of power systems. The
problem states that energy-only markets fail to incentivise the building of
generation due to the marginal cost of energy (in £/MWh) being too low when the
system margin is tight. The EMR introduced a number of reforms to incentivise the
investment in capacity required to meet system peaks, one of which was the GB
For conventional generators (such as nuclear or gas), the method of calculating the capacity market value of a generator is relatively straightforward. Historic data from forced outages (periods where plant is unable to supply power due to unexpected equipment failure) are collected; from this, an overall de-rating factor is calculated based on the likelihood of a generator being unavailable during a system peak. A similar method can be used for renewable generators, based on the coincidence of meteorological patterns and demand. Generators are then paid in proportion to their de-rating factor.
How are the Interconnectors accounted for in the analysis?
Interconnectors are treated in a similar way in the
calculation of their contribution to security, using de-rating factors.
However, interconnectors are generally more complex than generators, with power
flows largely driven by price differentials. For example, nuclear power on the
French system tends to be inexpensive compared to gas turbines that are common
in the GB system, and so the GB system frequently imports through the French
interconnector. On the other hand, if the energy price is higher on the French
system (perhaps due to unforeseen nuclear generation outages) then the
interconnector is likely to export to France, potentially reducing security.
The EMR Delivery Body models the countries to which the GB
system is connected using an ‘economic dispatch model’. Prices during system
stress events are estimated and the resulting flows used to determine interconnector
de-rating factors. The model uses many decades of weather data, allowing the
impact of increasing penetrations of renewables in future years to be factored
The estimation of de-rating factors for interconnectors
across many countries years into the future makes for a very challenging modelling
task. Whilst the approach used by the EMR Delivery Body has only been presented
at a high level (i.e., with few technical details), there were two issues which
we identified and highlighted in our response. These points were based on a
combination of our understanding of these high-level details (as described here)
and the published capacity market rules.
What was our feedback?
We considered their approach using the principle of
parsimony: a model should be as concise as possible, whilst still being able to
explain all significant phenomenon. Implicitly, this requires a judgement of
what constitutes the main ‘thing’ that a model is trying to predict or explain.
It follows, therefore, that the method should be validated
against the model out-turn (the ‘reality’ the model is predicting). In this
case, the out-turn is the expected flows of interconnectors during formal system
stress events up to five years in the future. Only a validation against an
approximation of this reality is likely to be meaningful, not least because
there is yet to be a formal system stress event, but also because there are
many exogenous factors (e.g. transmission constraints) which can have a
significant impact on resultant power flows.
This point is particularly relevant as, until last year, the
capacity market rules stated that the economic dispatch model should be
compared against an historic benchmark. There are several reasons as to why
this hindcast-based approach is not advisable – for example, the generating
fleet in countries such as Germany is due to change significantly in the next
five years. However, it is our view that the outputs of a model should still be
validated publicly, with decision makers made aware of the method of validation
and the results. The validation could be, for example, against periods of high
Loss of Load Probability (LOLP), or some other indicator of system stress.
The second point we raise is on a similar topic. If you do compare historic interconnectors
flows against the LOLP, it appears to be the case that some countries tend to
export when the LOLP is high, whilst others tend to import. (Exports during
stress periods could occur, for example, if two countries have highly
correlated peak demands.) As a result, some interconnectors may in fact be
tending to diminish the system security, even if most interconnectors are
improving security. The capacity market rules do not explain how this effect
could be taken into account in the analysis. Our judgement is that this is a
major part of the ‘reality’ of interconnectors, which should therefore be
recognised by the method.
What is the future for interconnectors within the GB system?
Generally, it is known that interconnectors provide huge benefits to the GB system. Social welfare benefits of interconnectors are measured in hundreds of millions of pounds per year, with strong evidence of positive impacts in terms of reduced system carbon intensity and increased network resilience. It is important, however, for methods of remuneration within the capacity market be made robust, so that decision makers and investors can be fully informed as to their value within the system, both today and in the future.
Read our response submitted to BEIS’ Panel of Technical Experts (PTE)
Dr Matthew Deakin is a postdoctoral research associate with the Supergen Energy Networks Hub at Newcastle University. His research interests include whole energy systems analysis, power system planning and operations, and smart grids.
Additional contributions to this post were made by Sarah
Sheehy (Durham University), Dr David Greenwood (Newcastle University), Prof.
Furong Li (University of Bath), Dr Robin Preece (University of Manchester), Dr
Sara Walker and Prof. Phil Taylor (Newcastle University).
Richard Smithson is a retired GP, married to Sue, father and grandfather, climate activist and concerned citizen, lives in Whitley Bay.
‘In the absence of decisive action from our politicians, it is important that local communities act together to reduce our carbon footprint. Increased use of hydrogen both in domestic supplies and transport would be a big step in the right direction. We are also considering community ownership of solar farms and promoting cycling and cheaper public transport to get people out of their cars. Electric vehicles can help in the short term but there is no single solution and we must try a multifaceted approach’
While the UK is the first country to pass into law net-zero emissions by 2050, much work needs to be done across government, public, private and voluntary sectors, and communities to tackle this immense challenge. Some local governments, cities, institutions and universities have declared a climate emergency, but what are the next steps to actually ending greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors in the UK and throughout the world?
Over 65 people attended the meeting which focussed on the UK governments aim for net-zero emissions by 2050, discussing a multi vector energy approach and in particular, Hydrogen for Heat & Transport as well as Climate Change Adaptation – Resilience.
The talk by Phil Taylor, Newcastle University, introduced the Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory (InTEGRel) project, the UK’s first multi-sector energy networks research centre, a collaboration between Newcastle University, Northern Powergrid and Northern Gas Networks. As well as the e4future project, a collaboration between Newcastle University & Imperial College London and a number of Industrial and government partners including Nissan, e-on, National Grid and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The talk was followed by a Q&A and a “post-it note” session. This enabled attendees to ask questions and write down their concerns and suggest ideas to reduce Carbon Emissions in the North Tyneside and wider region .
Questions included: Are schemes available for installing Domestic Solar Panels? What are the benefits of Tidal Energy and is this something that could be considered? Is it expensive to retrofit air source heat pumps to homes? When will Hydrogen Boilers be available to buy? Is Biomass worth exploring?
After the session we gathered a number of project ideas which we hope to look into in more detail with the help of the North Tynside Community and in collaboration with SupergenEN and CESI.
We are in the initial stages of arranging the inaugural Supergen Energy Networks Conference which will take place on the 29 and 30 April 2020 in London. We needed to ensure our conference venue was both accessible and inclusive for our diverse community which consists of researchers and academics, as well as industrial and governmental partners.
After investigating a wide range of conference locations we chose IMechE HeadQuarters in Westminster. The venue provides space for a range of different conference activities and its central location is of benefit for our international delegates.
We have over 600 stakeholders in the Supergen Energy Networks Hub, we canvased all our members to gauge interest in contributing to the conference in various ways as well as gauging opinion on relevant session topics that they would most like to see.
Following a meeting in Manchester in January with the conference committee, we decided on a combination of 10 parallel and plenary sessions as illustrated below. We also have an Early Career Researcher (ECR) reception the evening of the 28 April.
We have confirmed a number of Keynote Speakers:
Charles Tsai, Chief Executive Officer & Director, Power Assets Holdings
Mary Suzan Abbo, Managing Director, Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation
Emma Pinchbeck, Chief Executive, Energy UK
Rebecca Williams, Head of Policy & Regulation, Renewable UK
Simon Bennett, Analyst, International Energy Agency
Registration for the conference is FREE and is now OPEN. We are also offering a contribution towards travel and accommodation costs for the first 30 Early Career Researchers to register to attend the conference.
For more information and for the draft agenda, please visit our website.
Ian Hower is a research associate in the Faculty of Science, Agriculture & Engineering at Newcastle University. With a background in policy, Ian’s research surrounds the policy and market frameworks for the UK energy system.
industry representatives including Chris Harris of NPower and Nigel Turvey of Western Power Distribution
early career researchers (ECRs) from University of Oxford, Imperial College and University of Bath
Each presenter gave a slightly different view on the same theme. They acknowledged the need for increased flexibility, the challenge of decarbonising heat, power and transport, and the current barriers to creating an efficient and renewable future energy system posed by current pricing and regulatory challenges. Each also put forward their view of research activities and forward thinking how best to overcome some of the barriers.
Marcia Poletti of Ofgem highlighted the principal foci for regulating the energy industry going forward; independent decision making, broader consumer protection and greater use of markets and price signals. Regulators are especially interested in the information behind the price signals as the data indicate where investment and regulation are needed. They expect significant movement toward more granular data and thus more granular pricing.
In this evolution, not only will massive changes need to be made to physical infrastructure, but questions about who will have access to data, markets and prices will also need to be addressed. For consumers to fully engage in demand side response, they need to be exposed to the sharp price signals. To aid this, Chris Harris of NPower argued that there should be a liberalisation of who can contract with whom, but cautioned that this process must be done slowly to prevent a free-for-all and unjust market capture. He also advocated that prosumer contracts should be fed into balancing and settlement, for the same reasons wholesale energy contracts are included in balancing and settlement.
This begs the question of how best to ‘liberalise’ the market to allow more granular price signals to reach consumers, while ensuring equity and justice. How can we both liberalise the market while also ensuring the market is fully incentivised to meet the ‘Net Zero’ emission targets?
Attempting to harmonize how future retailers can understand customers’ network needs and optimise capacity at least cost, Harris argued that demand side response (DSR) is the number one priority for Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and the wider system going forward. Harris critiqued the techno-optimist view that technology alone can successfully address climate change, arguing there are no models, predictions or calculations that get us to the 2050 carbon goals without significant demand side response. To achieve this, Harris suggests that we must develop decentralised democratised markets to meet the evolving needs of energy supply and demand. In doing so, he suggested changes in both the regulatory market architecture and culture that would move the UK away from price socialisation, something that resonates with Ofgem’s call for increased price signals and competition.
Nigel Turvey of Western Power Distribution (WPD) discussed how DNOs will adapt to this new future, and the plans for preventing possible conflicts of interest between asset solutions and the use of third-party flexibility by separating DSO activities into a separate management structure.
Michael Pollitt also gave insights into his current thinking on ancillary service markets, namely that companies operating in this space need to be more transparent and that there should be more oversight of this. Pollitt was especially concerned about the dual impact of domestic PV and wider adoption of EVs on the burden of fixed costs. He discussed research which showed those with solar will pay a lower portion of the system’s fixed costs under current charging methodologies.
Pollitt’s broad argument acknowledged that the UK is one of the few countries to have a fully privatised energy network, and thus the massive changes that are coming to the industry need to coincide with regulators ensuring that the benefits of these changes are equitably distributed to consumers and society, not just shareholders. He also emphasised that the benefits of a faster, smarter connection need to be shared out better, in a way that all parties, (particularly DNOs and wider society) clearly benefit.
Furong Li discussed how network capacity could be provided under differing demand flexibility and uncertainty, to underpin a new philosophy in network access arrangement in a highly uncertain energy future. She highlighted key drivers for the new philosophy as flexibility shifting from the central to regional and local system, and an increase in instruments in providing distribution network capacity. Li identified a number of key research questions:
How to factor differing capacity provisions/increased optional efficiency into network pricing?
How to quantify ‘value of wait’ for an investment option with differing/changing levels of generation and load uncertainty?
How to quantify/estimate current and future operational capability from differing degrees of network and customer flexibility?
What are the key drivers to determine the right balance between cost recovery from network investment and network operation?
ECRs were also given the opportunity to present their latest research findings in flexibility markets:
Thomas Morstyn – on liquidity and granularity questioning whether prosumers can provide flexibility for the system, and emphasising the importance of markets staying interconnected.
Dimitrios Papadaskalopoulos – on assessing the value of flexibility, and the modelling needed to move from a centralised to a distributed optimisation. He highlighted the dangers of group think as illustrated by the 01.30 peak that emerged with the introduction of Economy 7.
Antonio de Paola – on the capability of thermostatic loads acting in energy frequency markets.
Ran Li – on the importance of price elasticity in electricity supply, or the lack of it! He believed that attitudes and technological change were key.
Overall, the themes that arose from the event surrounded the massive changes anticipated for the system, and how best to prepare with minimise energy cost and carbon emissions through energy transition.
There are significant shortcomings in the current market, network access and regulation, and missing market components to minimise the cost of low carbon transition, cope with uncertainty, and ensuring customers benefits
Interestingly, both Harris and Pollitt – and later the rest of the attendees – agreed that the biggest technical challenge facing the UK is the decarbonisation of heat, where electrical systems could play a key role.
In Harris’ words, the substantial energy policy decision of our generation is “what gas will flow through what pipes in 2050”.
Meanwhile, the transition to renewable sources of energy in the power and transport sectors are already well underway.
To help encourage these positive changes – and to ensure that the benefits are spread equitably throughout society – proper pricing, access to network and regulations are needed.
Various ideas for what form these pricing methods and regulations should take were put forth, including new ways of capturing costs currently omitted from pricing methods such as carbon emissions and constraint costs.
It also became clear through the course of the event that the various players in the industry will have to work together on a deeper level than they do today. To fully extract the benefits of a carbon-neutral energy industry, players will have to collaborate to fully engage each other’s efficiencies and flexibilities to help ensure security of supply and decarbonisation, while also helping contribute to the economy and keeping costs down for consumers. However, underpinning all of this is the primary concern expressed by all stakeholders was that everyone must work to ensure that this increase in collaboration, marketisation, and decarbonisation provides real and noticeable benefits to every corner of the UK.
Further information on the workshop and access to presentations can be found here.
Jianzhong Wu is a Professor of Multi-Vector Energy Systems and Head of Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Cardiff University.
He is Co-Director of Supergen Energy Networks Hub , Co-Director of INCOSE UK Energy Systems Interest Group, a member of Wales Smart Energy System Group, the Scottish Power Energy Networks Strategic Stakeholder Panel for England and Wales, and the Academic Promotions Committee of Cardiff University.
The energy trilemma (energy security, environmental impact and social cost) present various complex interconnected challenges. These challenges extend throughout the UK and have a significant international bearing. There is vast diversity in challenges faced regionally due to historical, geographic, political, economic and cultural reasons. As technology and society change so do these challenges. Therefore energy networks planning, design and operation need to adapt.
Whole-systems approach to energy networks research is not considered the norm. Comprehensive knowledge of the interconnected and interdependent nature of energy network infrastructure is simply not available. The recent development of local energy systems and global energy internet bring further uncertainties and challenges to the development of our energy systems.
Currently, there is a lack of:
modelling experience and skills
awareness of the value of integrated multi-energy networks in the UK.
To better understand the relationships among different energy vector networks, ICT, policy, markets, and risk need to shape future energy development. Through understanding how external factors may lead to significant changes in the way energy networks behave, we can plan and operate accordingly.
The first session of the workshop, chaired by Prof Jianzhong Wu from Cardiff University, was devoted to sharing experiences and practices of modelling. It provided an insight into the challenges of modelling complex systems while giving examples of new tools, models and projects. There were several interesting presentations by:
BEIS (Dr Noramalina Mansor, top left photo),
Energy Systems Catapult (Dr David Wyatt, bottom right),
West and Wales Utilities (Mr Chris Clark, top right photo), and
academia (Prof Mark Barret, UCL; Prof. Goran Strbac, bottom left photo, Imperial College London; Dr Sara Walker, Newcastle University and Dr Meysam Qadrdan, Cardiff University).
The second session considered how to tackle some of the pressing challenges, difficulties and uncertainties faced by energy systems modellers and the wider community. This session helped to identify research gaps, questions and potential research topics within energy networks.
There were lots of open discussions led by Professor Phil Taylor, Director of the Supergen Energy Networks Hub on how to move forward in terms of research and practice within energy networks modelling.
The suggestions were to focus on demonstration projects, modelling of extreme events as well as the design of simpler but interconnected models among other things. Moving forward, the participants expressed an interest in another set of such workshops, with a focus on balancing the needs of the local and national systems.