Marking the official launch of the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, Newcastle University’s Laura Brown describes how the centre will examine ‘the co-evolution of supply, demand and infrastructure’ to help inform the design of a future, low carbon, energy system.
Whole systems approach
Launching today, the £20m centre brings together a wide spectrum of industrial and academic energy experts from around the world in an innovative collaborative five year research program.
Core funded by German engineering firm Siemens AG, with an additional £5m from EPSRC, and the balance from industry and academic partners, the Centre aims to investigate the challenges of the energy trilemma of security of supply, sustainability and affordability.
With an emphasis on a flexible smart infrastructure future that empowers consumers with greater control of their energy, CESI’s research will provide the energy industry and policy makers with a suite of tested, verified and consumer evaluated sustainable energy future models and ‘trilemma’ solution scenarios.
The whole systems approach developed will inform the understanding of the complex challenges of the future energy supply and demand environment across the regional, national and international level encompassing the heat, transport and electricity sectors.
CESI will draw on the expertise of leading academics from the universities of Newcastle, Heriot-Watt, Sussex, Edinburgh and Durham and will be actively steered by both an industrial innovation and an international advisory board comprised of representatives of local and national government, international researchers, industrial partners and consumer stakeholders, such as the USA's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Siemens, National Grid, housing associations and the gas and electricity distribution organisations.
The research team will utilise the Centre’s full scale multi-vector energy system demonstration facilities to establish, test and validate a comprehensive array of energy system datasets and computational models.
The consortium will have access to a wide range of urban, rural, commercial, domestic and infrastructure demonstrators such as Science Central, Cockle Park Farm, Thames Valley Vision, Customer Led Network Revolution and the Findhorn Community.
Specific technology, such as energy storage, or broader system configurations of particular interest can also be tested and evaluated on these large scale demonstrators providing a very flexible research platform. CESI will work with the cloud computing resources of the National Institute for Smart Data Innovation to take full advantage of the wealth of data available within the smart energy system.
CESI’s interdisciplinary, big data driven methodology will embrace the whole energy systems approach and also draw upon existing high level models, scenarios and research outputs from the diverse energy systems research and industrial communities.
CESI will examine the ways in which supply, demand and infrastructure could co-evolve and develop system configuration trajectories out to 2050. This evaluation will allow the participants to perform a system architect role of the future energy scenarios envisaged.
The outputs from this research will provide important validated evidence to inform investment decisions and recommend system design options while also ensuring the regulatory requirements are identified to facilitate the energy system transitions required for the future scenarios proposed.
An additional added value and exciting element of the program is the £1m earmarked for the CESI flexible research fund, for members of the academic community to bid for specific research projects and networking events to engage with the Centre and to secure participation from the international community.
Laura Brown is Centre Manager for the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI) at Newcastle University. The Centre is led by Professor Phil Taylor, Director of the Institute for Sustainability and Siemens Professor of Energy Systems, Newcastle University.
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