The experience of Germany suggests that the integration of large amounts of inflexible nuclear baseload generation and/or intermittent renewable generation into the energy system will rapidly become a key issue for the UK. Incidents of renewable supply exceeding demand are rare at present but could rapidly become commonplace. If heat is electrified then peak power flows would greatly increase. Options for coping with the greater demands include reinforcing the transmission infrastructure, building super and/or smart grids, deploying energy storage and creating demand-side management. This project focuses on three energy vectors – electricity, heat and hydrogen – that could have an important role in balancing renewable generation in the future. In contrast to most studies, which tend to examine these vectors in isolation, this project is taking a broader approach that could identify lower-cost pathways that might, for example, use excess renewable electricity to produce stored heat or hydrogen that is stored in the gas networks.
This project is investigating the interactions, synergies and potential conflicts between the large-scale deployment, at different scales, of electricity, hydrogen and heat, especially in respect of the different infrastructures that they require. In close collaboration with the Energy Systems at Multiple Scales programme, the research will undertake engineering and techno-economic analysis of energy vectors, and the technologies and infrastructures that generate and transport them, and will incorporate this analysis in a spatially and temporally-explicit way into energy systems models (including at the European [ETM-UCL] and UK [UKTM-UCL] levels). This sub-theme is closely linked to the recently started EPSRC Realising Energy Storage Technologies in Low-carbon Energy Systems (RESTLESS) project, which is led by UCL and includes collaborators from the Energy Systems at Multiple Scales programme.