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Looking Back at the Supergen COP26 Fishbowl Event

The Supergen COP26 Fishbowl was a public engagement activity in which participants from different groups, organisations, and backgrounds discussed their visions for an energy future with net-zero carbon emissions. It took place at the Ramshorn Theatre in Glasgow during the COP26 Energy Day on the 4th of November.

Each Supergen hub – Solar, Offshore Renewable Energy, Bioenergy, Energy Networks, Energy Storage, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell – nominated up to two academics and early-career researchers to make up the surrounding audience and contribute to the discussion with specialist knowledge. I am glad that I was among them and had the opportunity to join the event in person.

In the next paragraphs, I will describe the concept of a fishbowl discussion, summarize the discussion points of the Supergen COP26 Fishbowl event, and provide an overview of my experience in Glasgow during the COP26 Energy Day

About the Author

Laiz Souto is  a Research Associate on the Supergen Energy Networks Hub, with a PhD in Electrical Engineering and  is also a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Future Energy Networks at the University of  Bristol with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Laiz has a broad interest in the energy transition, including energy infrastructures, low carbon energy systems, optimization and statistical techniques applied to energy systems planning and operation, uncertainty quantification in large scale energy systems, energy systems integration, power system resilience to extreme weather events, power system reliability and security of supply, and power systems protection, automation, and control, among other topics.

What is a fishbowl discussion?

A fishbowl is a form of conversation which allows several people to participate in a conversation. In a fishbowl discussion, chairs are arranged in concentric rings. Participants seated in the inner circle (i.e., the fishbowl) actively take part in the conversation by sharing their thoughts, whereas participants seated in the outer circles listen carefully to the topics being discussed. Participants in the outer circles may enter the inner circle to share their thoughts when a seat is available. Participants in the inner circle are encouraged to vacate their seats after contributing to the discussion so that other participants can join the conversation.

The Supergen COP26 Fishbowl event followed this format with six inner chairs and roughly twenty outer chairs. The inner chairs were occupied by the facilitator and the academics nominated by each of the five Supergen hubs at the start of the live stream. Before the start of the event, participants agreed to leave an empty seat in the inner circle whenever possible so that different participants could join the ongoing discussion. As an outcome, participants from different backgrounds, organizations, and career stages could share their thoughts on distinct aspects involved in the energy transition towards a net-zero carbon emissions future.

What was discussed in the Supergen COP26 Fishbowl event?

The Supergen COP26 Fishbowl agenda was divided into four chapters over one hour and a half. The event facilitator moderated the discussion, ensuring that the duration of each chapter was roughly the same and that all participants who joined the inner circle could share their ideas.

At the start of the live stream, academics delivered a short presentation about the perspective of their hub to contextualize the debate. The role of the research conducted by each Supergen hub towards a net-zero carbon emissions future was briefly introduced.

Chapter 1: “How do we generate our energy in a net zero world”

The role of different energy sources in a net-zero carbon emissions future was discussed. Energy production from renewable sources, energy storage, nuclear power plants, hydrogen, integrated electricity-gas-heating networks, and the phasing-out of fossil fuels were debated. Other aspects were also linked to the energy production in a net zero world, such as the importance of a just energy transition leaving nobody behind to achieve the climate targets previously set in the Paris Agreement.

Chapter 2: “How do we deliver that net zero energy to the public”

The role of different technologies in the energy supply chain was discussed. Among them, smart grid capabilities, artificial intelligence, flexibility options, and distributed energy resources were associated to disruptive changes in the provision of energy to the customers in a net-zero carbon emissions future. In this context, the role of energy networks in the transportation of energy in its different forms from generation sites to consumption sites was emphasized. Challenges and opportunities posed by the increasing electrification of other sectors were also discussed.

Chapter 3: “How do we utilize that net zero energy”

Changes in energy consumption in a net-zero world were debated, highlighting the role of the customers towards net-zero carbon emissions. The impact of the choices made by the customers on the final uses of energy was debated, considering aspects that could incentivize the adoption of clean energy technologies and energy efficient appliances, such as subsidization. Changes introduced by the increasing electrification of economies worldwide were also discussed.

Chapter 4: “What steps should the UK be taking to make our energy system net zero by 2050”

Policy decisions were discussed with a sense of urgency. Stopping subsidization of fossil fuels and increasing investments in state-of-the-art clean energy technologies along with the required network infrastructure were emphasized as key commitments towards a net-zero carbon emissions future. In this context, taking into consideration regional aspects along with clean energy technologies currently available was recommended to accelerate the energy transition towards net-zero carbon emissions.

What was like to be in Glasgow during the COP26 Energy Day?

For many participants like me, COP26 – and the Supergen COP26 Fishbowl in particular – brought the first opportunity to attend a conference in person after the pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions had been lifted in the UK. This made the opportunity to be in Glasgow during COP26 – and during the COP26 Energy Day in particular – even more unique.

The city was overbooked and fully decorated with COP26 banners, some of which also including reminders of how individual choices contribute to greenhouse gas emissions in different ways. The atmosphere in Glasgow was tense, as the decisions to be made during the next few days of COP26 were expected to determine the world’s ability to curb global warming. Expectations among the COP26 attendees were high, given the importance and urgency of climate change mitigation and adaptation worldwide and the lack of ambitious commitments linked to action plans at the previous conferences. During the COP26 Energy Day and the Supergen COP26 Fishbowl event, I was happy to see and engage in interesting discussions about the role of energy networks in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Now that COP26 is over and the Glasgow Climate Pact is ready, I hope to see governments implementing ambitious action plans that lead to rapid decarbonization worldwide. Ultimately, I look forward to seeing bold climate commitments put into practice towards net-zero carbon emissions in the next few years.

An Interdisciplinary Research Perspective on the Future of Multi-Vector Energy Networks

About the Author:

Dr Dragan Cetenovic is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Manchester, where he works as a part of the core research team of the Supergen Energy Network Hub to develop approaches for advanced monitoring and control of multi-energy systems using novel sensor, ICT and Big Data approaches. My focus is on development of methods for advanced state-estimation for dynamic security assessment of integrated multi-energy networks, integration of signals from different types of sensors into a data acquisition platform, and development of efficient methods for real-time Big Data processing and knowledge extraction in future energy networks.

Introduction

Despite their vital importance to the UK’s energy sector, industry and society, there is no current whole systems approach to studying the interconnected and interdependent nature of energy network infrastructure and the challenges it faces. Inspired by this, team of Researchers and Academics from the Supergen Energy Networks Hub, led by Hub Director, Professor Phil Taylor, recently published their joint paper in the International Journal of Electrical Power and Energy Systems (IJEPES).

The paper is available online and will be published in the February 2022 issue of the Journal. The paper has been written through a well-organized coordination and professional commitment of all signed authors. It is now a good starting point for moving forward with new publications in high impact papers. The IJEPES is a highly respected, Q1‑journal (IF=4.63), with a tradition of 40 years of successful publication of high-quality research papers in the field of power and energy systems.

About the paper

The energy sector worldwide is facing considerable pressure arising from the growing demand for clean energy, the need to reduce carbon emissions substantially while adapting to the inevitable impacts of climate change and coping with the depletion of fossil fuels and geopolitical issues around the location of remaining fossil fuel reserves. In this regard, UK Government has committed to a net zero carbon economy by 2050 [1]. Energy networks are vitally important enablers in the global pursuit of a just transition to net zero [2].

The transition to net zero and the energy trilemma (energy security, environmental impact and social cost) present many complex interconnected international challenges. There are different challenges regarding systems, plants, physical infrastructure, sources and nature of uncertainties, ICT requirements, cyber security, big data analytics, innovative business models and markets, and policy and societal changes. As technology and society changes, so do these challenges, and therefore the planning, design and operation of energy networks needs to be revisited and optimised.

Current energy networks research does not fully embrace a whole systems approach and is therefore not developing a deep enough understanding of the interconnected and interdependent nature of energy network infrastructure [3, 4]. This paper provides a novel interdisciplinary perspective intended to enable deeper understanding of multi-vector energy networks. The expected benefits would be enhanced flexibility and higher resilience, as well as reduced costs of an integrated energy system.

Considering drivers like societal evolution, climate change and technology advances, this paper describes the most important aspects which have to be taken into account when designing, planning and operating future multi-vector energy networks. For this purpose, the issues addressing future architecture, infrastructure, interdependencies and interactions of energy network infrastructures are elaborated through a novel interdisciplinary perspective. Aspects related to optimal operation of multi-vector energy networks, implementation of novel technologies, jointly with new concepts and algorithms, are extensively discussed. The role of policy, markets and regulation in facilitating multi-vector energy networks is also reported. Last but not least, the aspects of risks and uncertainties, relevant for secure and optimal operation of future multi-vector energy networks are discussed.

Fig. 1 Block-diagram of the framework for investigation of interfaces between modelling, policy, markets, ICT and risks in multi-vector energy networks.

References

  • Committee on Climate Change, “Net Zero: The UK’s contribution to stopping global warming”, May 2019.
  • International Energy Agency Report, “World Energy Outlook 2020”, IEA, Paris, 2020 https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-outlook-2020
  • H. R. Hosseini, A. Allahham, S. L. Walker, P. Taylor, “Optimal planning and operation of multi-vector energy networks: A systematic review”, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, vol. 133, 2020. doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2020.110216
  • Mancarella, “MES (multi-energy systems): An overview of concepts and evaluation models”, Energy, vol. 65, pp. 1–17. 2014. doi: 10.1016/j.energy.2013.10.041

Supergen COP26 Cross Hub Conference – EDI session

The equality diversity and inclusion session at the Supergen COP26 conference involved 7 high profile colleagues who are actively undertaking interventions to improve equality diversity and inclusion.

The first speaker, Dr Sara Walker from Newcastle University, spoke about a joint survey to Supergen members from across 7 Supergen investments. The survey investigated the impact of the COVID pandemic on the Supergen community. As a result of this work some key recommendations have been delivered to the Supergen hubs. For example, results indicated that increased child care during the pandemic was more significant for part time colleagues. This could disproportionately affect their career progression.

The second speaker was Dr Zaffie Cox from EPSRC. She spoke about engendering a positive equality diversity and inclusion culture through decisions on investments, on ways in which peer review is carried out, and in ensuring research addresses issues such as energy justice. Zaffie went on to talk about a call, which is active at present, for an EDI network plus.

Prof Rachel Oliver of Cambridge University presented work by the group The Inclusion Group for Equity in Research in STEMM (TIGERinSTEMM). Rachel talked about her campaign to highlight the need for data on research funding broken down by protected characteristics. This was supported by government prior to the most recent general election. Progress had been made, with some data released by EPSRC, and Rachel showed an example where awards of large grants were significantly higher for male principle investigators than female principal investigators. Rachel suggested the culture change needed across the funding landscape requires major intervention. She also suggested some personal actions that could be taken, for example asking about equality diversity and inclusion when agreeing to take on tasks such as speaking at events.

Dr Leda Blackwood of Bath University presented work on an Inclusion Matters (EPSRC funded) project ‘Reimagining Recruitment’. In depth surveys were undertaken to better understand experiences of early career researchers, to better understand what influences colleagues to stay in academia and in STEM subjects. Key factors related to being on an academic contract and being on an open contract. Opportunities were seen as very important but that these need to positively shape the view of the workplace and of the self. Procedural fairness was overwhelmingly seen as low across respondents. Questions about perceptions about the self identified that females felt less able to be authentic and this could lead to feelings of being less psychologically safe in the workplace. Leda also commented on deficit models which are used more often i.e. women need to be more positive or more confident, but this is not necessarily appropriate.

Prof Belinda Colston of the University of Lincoln talked about the Inclusion Matters (EPSRC funded) ‘ASPIRE’ project. This is a change model, with eight themes used to define the makeup of an inclusive research environment. For each of these eight themes, Belinda and the team are considering appropriate interventions and ways of measuring their success or impact. This project is at an early stage and not yet complete.

Prof Louise Mullany of Nottingham University talked about Inclusion Matters (EPSRC funded) ‘STEMM Change’ project. She focused on two pieces of work. One was around recruitment, and work done to analyse recruitment language. The project has identified 12 recommendations to improve recruitment language and to increase diversity in applicants as a result. The project team also undertook a survey of technicians with a focus on COVID-19 issues. Some of the issues identified were similar to that of the work of Dr Sara Walker and the Supergen hubs. Significantly, technicians considered themselves to be lacking visibility opportunities, since they were rarely named on proposals and on research outputs.

Emma Pinchbeck, CEO of EnergyUK, talked about the need to have diverse representation within organisations because this visually shows the organisation’s values. Diversity is not just about representation however, it’s about diversity of voices, diversity of views, which better enable organisations to reflect their customer base or reflect society in general. In building for net zero we need to think about how that approach will meet the needs of all. And to think about the impacts on minority communities. Therefore all sectors of society need representation and need a voice. Emma talked about some practical approaches which her company is taking. For example they have signed up to the 50:50 commitment initiated by the BBC, where at least 50% of speakers at events are women. Her organisation supports ‘Switch’ which is a list of diverse speakers for events in the energy sector. Emma mentioned the importance of networking and building safe spaces for discussion. She mentioned EWiRE, PowerfulWOMEN, and the EDI conference which EnergyUK has held. She talked about the need to have a mix of events, such as small events, hybrid events, and inviting speakers from sectors outside of energy to get diverse voices in the energy sector as well. And within organisations she talked about the need for safe spaces, for staff working groups to be informal and protected, confidential from senior management. Emma also spoke about practical things which individuals can take, such as requesting their employer allow individuals to have time to do EDI initiatives, or to enable a better home-work life balance.

The range of initiatives and the passion of the individuals were really motivating to me as the chair at this event and I look forward to putting into practise some of the suggestions made by colleagues at this event. By taking positive action, we as the Supergen Hubs can be allies to colleagues across our communities, across protected characteristic groups, across academia industry public sector and third sector. Together we can create opportunities for positive change across the energy space to ensure diversity is valued, opportunity is equal, and individuals feel included in our community.

Speaker bios: Cross Hub Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Session – Supergen Energy Networks Hub – Newcastle University

Looking back at our event on digital inclusion in the energy market

On the afternoon of the 26th of May, a team with partners from University of Liverpool, Good Things Foundation, National Energy Action, the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, and the Supergen Energy Networks Hub, hosted an event on digital inclusion in the energy market. The event was split across two sessions: the first featuring reflections from Good Things Foundation’s community partner organisations about their experiences of supporting digitally excluded consumers with the energy market, and the second showcasing new and ongoing research undertaken by Citizens Advice, the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, and Good Things Foundation. This was followed by a panel discussion, joined by representatives from the Supergen Energy Networks Hub and the EU-wide energy consumer advocacy organisation, Next Energy Consumer.

Reflections

Reflecting back on the event, one of the most important messages that stands out is just how pervasively digital exclusion intersects with other vulnerabilities and other forms of exclusion to limit fair and affordable access to energy. For instance, Fareeha Usman, the found of the charity Being Woman, discussed how rural areas of Northumberland face complex challenges not just in accessing the internet, but electricity itself. Hayley Nelson, the Director of Learn For Life, also relayed the multiple challenges and exclusions faced by refugees in accessing the core energy and digital services they need shortly after their arrival in the UK. They cannot access their bills online, search for deals, or embrace smart technology, and Good Things Foundation’s partner organisations returned time and time again to how they have to interpret information for people and help them to understand and access essential services.

Of course, we also know that exclusions are not primarily a result of personal characteristics, but of the way the energy market is designed. In different ways, almost all of the speakers discussed the ways that energy systems and infrastructures are often seemingly designed to make things harder and more complicated for those who do not have the digital skills or connection to take full advantage of them. Caroline Jacobs, Head of Development at the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, touched on the inaccessibility of EV charging infrastructures for disabled consumers, and other speakers criticised the lack of non-digital means of switching energy supplier, and the exclusivity of the best deals to online switching sites.

Inclusive Design Principles

These conversations underlined that it is becoming ever clearer that we need inclusive design principles and ‘users’ of all kinds to be more centrally involved in how these infrastructures are conceived and built. This was conveyed strongly by Arun Rao, Senior Policy Advisor at Citizens Advice, who emphasised the need for suppliers to improve the accessibility of information as well as the importance of maintaining multiple channels of communication for customers, so they can get in touch in the way that is most suited to their preferences and needs.

This however begs the question, how can changes like this be achieved? At one point, an audience member mused whether there was anyone from energy regulators, or from government, in attendance. If not, why not? they continued. A short time later, two responses appeared in the chat from attendees based in two of the UK’s regulators, essentially saying ‘yes, here I am’, and providing assurances that the issues being discussed would be fed back to colleagues. he need to work together across the third-sector, industry, government, and energy regulators to amplify the issues and work collaboratively towards more inclusive solutions was spoken about, implicitly and explicitly, by all of our presenters – including across borders, as Marine Cornelis, founder of the EU wide consumer organisation Next Energy Consumer, aptly reminded us.

Next Steps

As the decarbonisation and digitalisation of the energy system gathers pace, we need to continue these conversations and take forward efforts to tackle the twin inequalities of digital exclusion and access to affordable energy services. There is always more to do, but as one of Good Things Foundation’s community organisations put it after the event, it was energising (if you’ll pardon the pun) to see so many members of the energy sector in attendance listening to their experiences and wanting to do more to support digitally excluded customers. As the government takes forward plans to coordinate the digitalisation of the energy system, carving spaces for articulating these experiences and trying to embed them in policymaking remains an urgent and important task.

About the Author

For further information please contact Matthew Scott (National Energy Action).

Impacts of Climate Change on Security of Supply via the GB Capacity Market

Feedback to BEIS Panel of Technical Experts on interconnector modelling in the
2021 Electricity Capacity Report

Dr Matthew Deakin, Dr Hannah Bloomfield

Background

National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) recently requested feedback from the community on their Summary Briefing Note, “Modelling de-rating factors for interconnected countries in the 2021 Electricity Capacity Report”. The severe Texas blackouts this winter have brought the issue of resource adequacy sharply into focus, with technical developments in European capacity markets via the European Resource Adequacy Assessment (ERAA) ongoing to ensure market-based solutions can provide energy system resilience as countries transition to net-zero.

Supergen Energy Networks (SEN) responded to NGESO’s call for feedback last year. We discussed how bidirectional flows from interconnectors mean that the marginal value of increased interconnection for individual countries can be both positive and negative with respect to resilience (particularly when the stress periods of multiple countries coincide), in contrast to conventional generation assets which always improve resilience. This year, NGESO have specifically requested feedback on the scenarios they are developing for interconnected countries, used to inform sensitivity analysis which identify a range of de-rating factors for new and existing interconnectors. Ultimately, de-rating factors are then used by the Secretary of State to determine the capacity volumes that interconnectors can bid into the capacity market.

How are Scenarios used in the GB Capacity Market?

Capacity markets are designed to provide a price signal to incentivise investment in generation to provide resilience, explicitly taking into account uncertainties in supply and demand. On the supply side, these uncertainties include the closing date of generators close to the end of their life, the commissioning dates of new assets, or even the availability of network infrastructure such as subsea cables. On the demand side, the uptake of new technologies mean that both peak and average GB demand changes from year to year, whilst nascent Demand Side Response technologies can also address tight margins, as they have done in GB for many years under the guise of ‘Triad avoidance’. Additionally, as we discuss in this note, both supply and demand are sensitive to climate variability and climate change, due to the weather sensitivity of renewables and demand.

The GB Capacity Market uses the “Least Worst Regret” approach to determine the required Capacity to Secure under these uncertainties (the Capacity to Secure subsequently determines how much generating capacity is procured for future winters). This approach evaluates the capacity that would be required to meet demand under a wide range of credible scenarios. The overall target Capacity to Secure is then calculated that will minimise the cost of generation overspend (based on the costs of building new generation) against the societal costs of controlled demand disconnection (based on the value of lost load) so that the target demand for the capacity market will minimise the potential ‘regret’ of overspend.

How could Climate Change Variability affect these Scenarios?

The scenarios that are selected for modelling are overlaid on top of a central scenario, representing a best guess of the state of the future system in between one- and five-years’ time, using nominal uncertainties on both the supply and demand side (Figure 1). One source of uncertainty here is the weather. To account for this, 30-40 years of historical weather data would typically be used to model a wide range of possible outputs from weather-dependent renewables in this central scenario, rather than selecting a year with particularly poor weather (which is typically included instead as an individual scenario). Similarly, as demand is strongly dependent on temperature (Figure 2) due to electric heating loads, the distribution of daily peak demand can also be ‘hindcast’ using 30-40 years of historic temperature.

Figure 1: Scenarios used to determine the capacity to secure for the 2024/5 winter, from the 2020 Electricity Capacity Report. The Base Case (BC) is used as a central scenario, with sensitives around this considering uncertain outcomes on both the supply and demand-side that could increase or decrease the required Capacity to Secure to a given security standard (eg, 3 hours expected loss of load per year). [Figure reproduced with permission]

There are therefore two ways that climate variability and climate change can impact on the scenarios used in the capacity market. Firstly, as the 30-40 year period used in historical assessment is relatively short, it may therefore be that as-yet unseen weather conditions, simulated in climate models, may need to be considered to adequately study possible risks of shortfalls. Additionally, long-term climate variability can also lead to the likelihood of adverse conditions being much greater in a given decade. Plausible scenarios modelling challenging weather years may need to be synthesised to model periods with higher demands and lower wind generation than exists in the historic record.

Figure 2: Weekday peak demand for 2016/17-2018/19 winters against population-weighted temperature for France and Great Britain. If the likelihood of very cold weather is reduced due to climate change, the likelihood of very high demands is also reduced.

Additionally, it could be that the modelling of the Central scenario, based on the long-term climate, will also be impacted by climate change. This could affect the Capacity to Secure calculations of all scenarios (except those scenarios focusing on specific weather conditions). For example, there is a clear warming trend in historic temperature data over France since 1980 (Figure 3a), such that if the temperature is corrected to account for this, the modelled northwest European temperature would rise close to 1°C. Although the change in mean temperature is relatively small, the shift in the temperature distribution (Figure 3b) means that the likelihood of cold temperatures can be affected significantly. For example, the likelihood of the mean daily temperature of France being below freezing reduces from 12.2% to 6.5%.

Physically, this de-trending of temperatures is meaningful as circulation in the atmosphere (driving weather fronts and wind) is thought to only be weakly dependent on the background temperature. Milder temperatures lead to reduced peak demands and therefore reduced requirements for expensive peaking capacity.

Figure 3: The distribution of temperatures in France changes if the historic, long term climate change signal is corrected for.

What was the feedback we provided to BEIS Panel of Technical Experts?

Given the sensitivity of peak demand to temperature shown in Figure 2, a 1°C increase in winter temperatures would lead to a reduction in the required capacity of around 500 MW in GB, or more than 2000 MW in France. The costs of providing this capacity are not inconsequential – for example, at a cost of new entry of £49/kW used in the GB capacity market, a 500 MW overestimation in the capacity required leads to an increase in costs of £24.5m per year. It is worth noting however, that this could also lead to a slight reduction in the likelihood of shortfalls.

In our feedback we took the view that the scenarios that NGESO have discussed around the modelling of interconnectors (including concerns around early closure of Coal and Nuclear plants in mainland Europe) are well justified. However, we also suggest that accounting for long-term climate change can and will have an impact on calculations of target Capacity to Secure. The de-trending of temperature is a relatively minor technical fix that could avoid costly over-procurement in the long run. Incorporating as-yet unseen, severe winter events is also a possibility by making use of longer-periods of historical data (including appropriate detrending) or output from climate model simulations. Ongoing work as part of the CLEARHEADS project will be further exploring these areas, and will be providing open-access suitable de-trended data. This will give energy modelers easy access to the data required to study the impacts of climate change on a wide variety of problems beyond the capacity adequacy issues discussed here.

Conclusions and future challenges

Systemic changes in climatic conditions will change the risk profile of energy systems heading toward net-zero, particularly in view of rapid increases in renewable capacity and electrification of heating demands in winter-peaking systems. Understanding both the severity and coincidence of system stress is necessary for an accurate determination of the value of interconnection for providing resilience.

The provision of secure, cost-effective and low-carbon energy will result in energy systems becoming increasingly weather dependent. We conclude that energy modelers will therefore need to become highly skilled in the handling and analysis of significant quantities of climate and weather data, used across a wide range of scales and contexts, to effectively address whole energy system design challenges on the path to net zero.

Feedback to BEIS Panel of Technical Experts

The feedback is available to view and was written with contributions from Dr David Greenwood, Dr Susan Scholes, Dr David Brayshaw and Professor Furong Li. The authors are also grateful for feedback from industrial advisor to the project, Dr Chris Harris. Matt and Hannah are support by the Supergen Energy Networks CLEARHEADS Flex Fund project, led by the University of Reading. Contact: matthew.deakin@newcastle.ac.uk; h.c.bloomfield@reading.ac.uk

About the authors

Dr Matthew Deakin is a postdoctoral Research Associate at Newcastle University with the Power Systems group. His research interests include whole energy systems analysis, power system planning and operations, and smart grids.

Dr Hannah Bloomfield is a post doctoral Research currently working in the University of Reading meteorology department. Her research focuses on understanding natural and societal challenges to present and near-future energy systems. Her past work focused on the impacts of climate variability and climate change on international power systems including large proportions of renewables.

Combined capacity and operation optimisation for multi-vector local energy systems

Academics and researchers involved in the EPSRC Supergen Energy Networks Hub, based in the School of Engineering at University of Warwick, Dr Dacheng Li, Mr Songshan Guo, Dr Wei He, Mr Markus King and Prof Jihong Wang recently published the paper “Combined capacity and operation optimisation of lithium-ion battery energy storage working with a combined heat and power system” in Elsevier’s journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

About the Author

Dr Dacheng Li has worked as an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor in Chinese Academy of Sciences since 2012, and joined the Power and Control Systems Research Laboratory, University of Warwick in 2019. His research focuses on the intelligent optimisation of energy storage (i.e., Phase Change Materials, Compressed air, Lithium-ion Battery) based multi-vector energy systems. He has worked as a project leader sponsored by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Key deployment project of Chinese Academy of Sciences for optimisation and demonstration of kW, MW-level energy storage systems.  Currently, he is involved in the RCUK’s Energy Programme and works on self-powered active cooling and cleaning technology for solar PV systems to improve the efficiency of renewable energy utilisation. Additionally, he is participating in the investigation on the on-line condition monitoring for biomass power plant mills. He has published more than 20 academic articles in leading journals and conferences, and 6 patents have been applied or authorised.

Contact email: dacheng.li@warwick.ac.uk

About the Paper

The paper reports the work completed in the first stage for the research project of combined capacity and operation optimisation for multi-vector local energy systems. The work is to investigate how energy storage can help improve CHP operation efficiency, reduce operation cost and CO2 emissions based on the campus energy system structure. In supporting future system and infrastructure design and planning, optimisation algorithms are developed which are able to derive the optimal solutions with consideration of the operation optimisation, optimal energy capacity, technical constrains and energy market information. The research is continuing to bring local renewable power generation, electrification of heating and EV to the optimisation process and extend from the campus energy system to the urban local energy system analysis.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems are considered as a transitional solution towards zero carbon emissions in the next couple of decades [1]. The current CHP systems are mainly controlled by thermally led strategy, that is, the electrical power generation depends on the thermal energy demand. The mismatch between the power generation and load demand leads to the deficient energy utilisation and economic loss. In this context, electrical energy storage technologies could open up an opportunity to reduce energy bills by improving power utilisation locally and mitigate otherwise necessary network upgrades. Moreover, electricity storage could also enable the integrated system to gain additional economic benefits using the Time-of-Use (ToU) pricing structures.

Lithium-ion Battery (LIB) is a promising electrical storage technology because of its high energy density and Coulombic efficiency. Integration of a Lithium-ion Battery Storage System (LBSS) with CHP systems can provide operational flexibility and improve the self-sufficiency rate. However, the lifetime cash flow of a battery storage integrated CHP system is inherently complex. An installation of LBSS leads to an increase in system capital expenditure; real-time operation of the battery system under varying user-load patterns and ToU rates determines the system operating expenses (including revenues), and the LBSS system lifetime [2]. All these factors are coupled and interactively affect the economic viability of using LBSS in CHP systems.

An innovative combined planning method is proposed in the paper to improve the economic gains of the CHP systems by integrating the lithium-ion battery storage system. The paper focuses on the simultaneous optimisation of storage capacity design and operation strategy formulation of the LBSS subject to the variations of the load and power generation from CHP with consideration of LBSS degradation and cost, and ToU pricing structures. The new strategy is implemented and tested using the University of Warwick (UoW) campus CHP system combined with the LBSS facilities.

A techno-economic model that describes LBSS-integrated CHP system operation, performance, and economic gains was derived, using the historic and experimental data. Then an integrated optimisation framework with the Biogeography-Based Optimisation (BBO) method that co-optimises battery storage capacity (Capital Expenditure) and temporal operational strategy (Operating Expensed) was proposed, considering control-dependent battery degradation rate at the system planning stage (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Main logic process of the LBSS operation for combined planning. (a) Main logic process of flag 1. (b) Main logic process of flag 2. (c) Main logic process of flag 3.

A real campus-scale CHP system and a 50 kW demonstration LBSS at the UoW was used to verify the effectiveness of our proposed method, which also exhibits the contribution of the LBSS in improving the economic performance of CHP systems (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Combined optimisation results for seasons. (a) Optimal operation cost and capacity of the LBSS. (b) Operation strategy of the LBSS for Spring case. (c) Operation strategy of the LBSS for Autumn case. (d) Operation strategy of the LBSS for Winter case.

Besides, considering that the price of the LBSS would decrease gradually and the profitability from the ToU structure remains uncertainty in the following decades [3], this paper investigates the variation trend of profit gain and the corresponding Number of Battery (NOB) under different LBSS price and ToU rates to predict the future contribution of the LBSS technology in improving the economy of the CHP system (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Combined optimisation results for one year. (a) Optimal operation cost with the change of the LBSS price and ToU structure. (b) Optimal storage capacity with the change of the LBSS price and ToU structure.

Application results demonstrated that a combined management mechanism was established to achieve the optimal balance between the profit gain and capital loss of the LBSS integration. The conducted work for maximising potential profits and optimising number of batteries with the change of LBSS cost and ToU structure would provide competitive guidance for investors to develop a reasonable solution to improve the economy of CHP systems by integrating of LBSS in the next decades.

The full paper is available to view.

Reference:

[1] Department for Business, Energy & industrial strategy. Digest of UK energy statistics (DUKES) [Chapter 7]: Combined heat and power 2019.

[2] Davies DM, Verde MG, Mnyshenko O, Chen YR, Rajeev R, Meng YS, et al. Combined economic and technological evaluation of battery energy storage for grid applications. Nat Energy 2019;4:42–50.

[3] Oliver Schmidt, Sylvain Melchior, Adam Hawkes, Iain Staffell. Projecting the Future Levelized Cost of Electricity Storage Technologies. Joule 2019;3:81-100.

Techno-Economic-Environmental Analysis of A Smart Multi Energy Grid Utilising Geothermal Energy Storage For Meeting Heat Demand

Researchers based at Newcastle University from the EPSRC funded Supergen Energy Networks Hub (SEN) and National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI), Seyed Hamid Reza Hosseini and Adib Allahham, along with the Coal Authority, Charlotte Adams, will soon publish their journal paper in IET Smart Grid.

About the Author: Dr Adib Allahham

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.

Adib Allahham contact details: adib.allahham@ncl.ac.uk @adiballahham and profile details

About the paper:

The UK Government has committed to a ‘Net Zero’ carbon economy by 2050 [1]. One major source of carbon emission is associated with heat demand from the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors.

Providing for heat demand accounts for around one third of UK carbon emissions [2]. In order to decarbonise the provision of heat, it is essential to increase the penetration of Low Carbon Energy Sources[1] (LCESs) in Smart Multi Energy Grids (SMEGs), i.e. integrated gas, electricity, and district heating and cooling networks [3,4]. This, consequently, has impact on the operation of SMEGs from the Techno-Economic-Environment (TEE) point of view [5,28].

Recent work on the geothermal potential of the UK’s flooded abandoned mining infrastructure has revealed a subsurface resource in place of 2.2 billion GWh [11]. The impact of integrating this vast supply and storage potential on the operation and planning of SMEGs needs to be evaluated in terms of TEE aspects.

The paper identifies research gaps, including neglecting the electricity requirements of the components of the geothermal system that is required to boost the hot water quality and presents an evaluation framework for the Techno-Economic-Environmental (TEE) performance of Integrated Multi-Vector Energy Networks (IMVENs) including geothermal energy. Geothermal Energy Storage (GES), offers huge potential for both energy storage and supply and can play a critical role in decarbonising heat load of Smart Multi Energy Grids.



Fig.1 Schematic of the considered Smart Electricity Network (SEN), Gas Network (GN) and District Heating Network (DHN)

The two most common types of GES, i.e. High Temperature GES (HTGES) and Low Temperature GES (LTGES), were modelled and integrated within the framework which evaluates the impact of different low carbon energy sources including HTGES, LTGES, wind and PV on the amount of energy imported from upstream, operational costs and emissions of IMVENs to meet the heat load of a region.

Data from a real-world case study was used to compare the TEE performance of the considered IMVEN configurations for meeting the heat load. Data included wind and PV generation, as well as the heat and electricity load for a representative winter week of a small rural village in Scotland. 


Fig. 2 The schematic of all the possible configurations of IMVEN considered in this paper

The results reveal that the most efficient, cost effective and least carbon intensive configurations for meeting the heat load of the case study are the configurations benefitting from HTGES, from a high penetration of heat pumps and from LTGES, respectively.

References:

  1. [1] ‘Net Zero – The UK´s contribution to stopping global warming’, https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Net-Zero-The-UKs-contribution-to-stopping-global-warming.pdf, accessed 20 December 2019
  2. [2] ‘Clean Growth – Transforming Heating: Overview of Current Evidence, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/766109/decarbonising-heating.pdf, accessed 20 December 2019
  3. [3] Ceseña E.A.M., Mancarella P.: ‘Energy Systems Integration in Smart Districts: Robust Optimisation of Multi-Energy Flows in Integrated Electricity, Heat and Gas Networks’, IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, 2019, 10, (1), pp. 1122-1131
  4. [4] Lund, H., Andersen, A.N., Østergaard, P.A., et al.: ‘From electricity smart grids to smart energy systems – A market operation based approach and understanding’, Energy, 42, (1), pp. 96-102
  5. [5] Hosseini, S.H.R., Allahham, A., Taylor, P.: ‘Techno-economic-environmental analysis of integrated operation of gas and electricity networks’. Proc. IEEE Int. Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS), Florence, Italy, May 2018, pp. 1–5
  6. [28] Hosseini, S.H.R., Allahham, A., Walker, S.L., et al.: ‘Optimal planning and operation of multi-vector energy networks: A systematic review’, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2020, 133, 110216
  7. [11] Adams, C., Monaghan, A., Gluyas, J.: ‘Mining for heat’, Geoscientist, 2019, 29, (4), pp. 10-15

Approaching Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within research teams

As EPSRC publishes their findings on gender perspectives within their research funding portfolio, our Centre Director, Dr Sara Walker and Centre Manager, Laura Brown discuss the challenges women working to help rebalance the mismatch face.

About the authors: Dr Sara Walker

Dr Sara Walker is Director of the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, Director of the Newcastle University Centre for Energy and Reader of Energy in the University’s School of Engineering. Her research is on energy efficiency and renewable energy at building scale.

About the authors: Laura Brown

Laura is the Centre Manager, EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration and Energy Research Programme Manager, Newcastle University. Her research tackles the challenges of integration of state-of-the-art thinking and technology into legacy energy systems.

As an academic team, we have a responsibility to consider Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the way we conduct our teaching, research and knowledge exchange. Doing the right thing is not always easy. We are in no way experts. But surely it is better to try, and accept that we will sometimes get it wrong?

Our research is funded by the EPSRC, for the National Centre for Energy Systems Integration and the Supergen Energy Networks Hub. So, we were interested to read the recently published EPSRC report Understanding our portfolio:  A gender perspective.

Within their report they state, “Underrepresentation of women in the engineering and physical sciences remains one of EPSRC’s largest equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) challenges and is a well-known issue in the engineering and physical sciences community.” We applaud the transparency that EPSRC has shown in issuing the report as we know, as scientists and engineers, one of the best ways of tackling problems is by considering the underlying data.

In our opinion, the findings of the report can be considered both worrying and illuminating. For example, higher value awards show significantly lower award rates to female Principal Investigators. Since 2007, applications of value over £10million have been received from 5 females, compared to 80 males. In 2018-19 (the latest year we have data for), just 15% of applications received were from female Principal Investigators.

Factors affecting application rates by female academics are likely to be numerous and complex, affecting individuals in different ways.

Some of these could be:

  • Women win fewer scientific prizes and so the public see fewer “success stories” of women, discouraging women to take up science subjects. (Callier, Conversation,  Jan 2019)
  • Women are evaluated by their students as less effective teachers than male counterparts, which may impact career progression (Basow, JEP, Sep 1987
  • Women are less likely to be selected at application stage for things like access to equipment. This was noted in a study of Hubble telescope time , for example. ( Johnson  & Kirk, HBR, Mar 2020)
  • Women get paid less: “The EPSRC’s analysis of the salaries which applicants request on grants is a very effective illustration of the gender pay gap. Using age as a proxy for career stage, we see men get paid more than women at similar career stages, and this effect increases with seniority level.” From @TIGERinSTEMM
  • The large grant applications are required to come from the Research PVC, of which we have very few women (Donald, Blog, Oct 2020)
  • Women undertake more unpaid work than male counterparts as parents, carers and in household duties, and this impacts the time available for, and consequent success in, delivery of those measures of “success” which are valued for promotion in the workplace. This impact of unpaid work has been particularly marked during COVID lockdown for women in academia ( Gewin, Nature, Jul 2020) and (Pinho-Gomes, BMJ GH Vol 5 Iss 7)

Data is not available from EPSRC for other protected characteristics, and so our understanding of the academic experience is often limited to our own lived experience. In order to address EDI in our institutions, we often ask those in the protected characteristic groups to represent a heterogeneous mix of people and experience. As two white women we bring our white privilege to the table (a great resource on this is here: https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf). Even within white privilege there are intersections with our Northern and Scottish roots, and class, for example.

McIntosh (1989) lists several white privileges, and given recent discussions in the UK of decolonisation of the curriculum and the during the current Black History Month, this one gives pause:

“When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization”, I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.”

MCINTOSH (1989) WHITE PRIVILEGE: UNPACKING THE INVISIBLE KNAPSACK

We are more than white women. We are white, heterosexual, married women who have children. So, as EDI champions, how can we reflect the experience of the full diversity of women? Women of colour, women without children, women who are disabled, women who are homosexual, or people who do not associate with binary expressions of gender? We may be very close to women with different lived experiences and have an appreciation of their experience through family and friends for example. And what role for men, how can they better understand the lived experiences of the full diversity of men? How can our research teams become better environments for all, regardless of difference?

We conclude it behoves each of us to read, observe and educate ourselves about the experiences of others. Be a good example. To take responsibility for our own awareness, to be reflective, and commit to being a better global citizen. To be kind. To be human.

Techno-economic-environmental evaluation framework for integrated gas and electricity distribution networks considering impact of different storage configurations

Researchers and Academics from the EPSRC funded Supergen Energy Networks Hub and the National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI), Dr Adib Allahham, Dr Hamid Hosseini, Dr Vahid Vahidinasab, Dr Sara Walker & Professor Phil Taylor, recently published their journal paper in the International Journal of Electrical Power and Energy Systems.

About the Author

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.

Adib Allahham contact details: adib.allahham@ncl.ac.uk @adiballahham and profile details

About the Paper

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 [1]. 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) [2]. 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 [3].

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).

Figure 1: A conceptual representation of SVS and VCS storage devices in an Integrated Gas and Electricity Distribution Network (IGEDN)

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 PV’s.

Fig. 2. The schematic of the studied rural area in Scotland including the separate gas and electricity networks (without considering P2G and VCS) and IGEDN (with considering P2G and VCS) [4].

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.

References

[1] Committee on Climate Change. Net Zero – The UKś contribution to stopping global warming, 2019. Google Scholar

[2] 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

[3] 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

[4] EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI). https://www.ncl.ac.uk/cesi/, 2017.

Optimal planning and operation of multi-vector energy networks: A systematic review [1]

Academics from the EPSRC Supergen Energy Networks Hub and National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI), Dr Hamid Hosseini, Dr Adib Allahham, Dr Sara Walker and Prof Phil Taylor recently published their journal paper in Elsevier’s prestigious journal Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews (impact factor 12.11).

About the Author

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.

Contact email: hamid.hosseini@ncl.ac.uk and Profile details

About the Paper

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 [2]. 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 [3].

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. 

Figure 1 The number of reviewed papers from different countries, based on the affiliation of the first author

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.

Figure 2 The three subject groups of papers reviewed and their topics

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.

The full paper, will appear in the November 2020 issue of the Elsevier journal, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, and is available to view online.

References:

[1] 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

[2] 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 October 2019].

[3] Eusgel I, Nan C, Dietz S. System-of-systems approach for interdependent critical infrastructures. Reliab Eng Syst Saf 2011;96(6):679–86.