Tag Archives: Supergen

Joint Supergen Energy Networks Hub and National Energy Action workshop

Supergen Energy Networks (SEN) Hub is committed not only to researching energy networks solutions/technologies to help achieve net-zero, but also to ensuring that any future transition to net-zero is a ‘just transition’.

National Energy Action (NEA) is the national charity working to end fuel poverty in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The work of NEA is more important than ever, with households across the country facing rising energy bills.

On 5th April the SEN Hub and NEA hosted a joint workshop to discuss the ‘Opportunities for DNOs to address the energy crisis.’ The purpose of the workshop was to better understand the opportunities for energy networks – particularly Distribution Network Operators (DNO) – to support vulnerable customers during the energy crisis and overcome barriers that they may encounter to ensure all customers can benefit in the transition to net zero.

Aims and Objectives:

The workshop, attended by NEA, SEN researchers and industrial representatives, was successful in identifying multiple areas where DNOs could further support fuel-poor households in the context of increased energy prices. There was agreement that:

  • In the short term, DNOs can help ensure low-income and vulnerable households are better supported through the current energy crisis and can use their role to press for more progressive outcomes in network charging and the recovery of supplier failure costs.
  • Local Authorities and DNOs should be key partners in helping to deliver a fair and affordable transition to net zero.
  • Energy efficiency forms one of three key pillars to ensuring network costs can be kept at a minimum, alongside flexibility and network upgrades, but it is the element that has been the least utilised to date.
  • There is a need for greater clarity from the Government and Ofgem on the role of DNOs regarding the energy efficiency of domestic properties.
  • Considerable work has been undertaken to improve the affordability of upgraded connections to the electricity network for all customers.
  • More research will be required to better understand the impact of upgraded connections on the low voltage networks, including the impact on cables and EV integration, and how to enable smoother connections to the grid in a way that does not put pressure on the network.

Collaboration

Continued collaboration including a report and next steps from NEA which makes the following recommendations for both DNOs and research institutions:

  1. Bring together DNOs and Combined Authorities for more constructive working.
  2. Ensuring fairer recovery of Supplier of Last Resort (SOLR) levy costs.
  3. Providing clarity to DNOs regarding Energy Efficiency.
  4. DNOs should develop an energy efficiency beacon project
  5. DNOs should ensure no fuel-poor households must pay to upgrade their connection when installing a heat pump.
  6. Researching the impact of shallow connection costs
  7. DNOs and research organisations should conduct research to better understand the impact of upgraded connections on the low voltage network.

If you would like to find out more about the workshop and collaboration please get in contact with the SEN Admin Team.

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

Inaugural Conference

About the Author:

Lindsey Allen is a Research Project Coordinator based in the School of Engineering, Newcastle University.

Contact: supergenEN@newcastle.ac.uk

Venue:

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.

Conference Sessions:

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.

Keynote Speakers:

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:

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.