Energy Supply theme synthesis report

18 Aug 2014

The UK power system experienced a period of significant and rapid expansion during the late 1980s and in the 1990s. Many power generation assets are now approaching the end of their useful life and need to be replaced as we decarbonise the overall energy system. Developments in distributed generation and other technologies open important questions as to whether the traditional approaches to development and operation of power systems are still adequate and whether the anticipated major re-investment in transmission and distribution networks could be avoided by adopting new technologies such as smart grids, smart meters and a greater emphasis on demand side participation.

High level research issues identified within the UKERC Energy Supply theme cover a number of areas, including:

  • Aging infrastructure – replacement strategies before failure - models and tools for condition monitoring - risk management of existing T&D infrastructure
  • Energy security & system security
  • Environmental sustainability – reducing the impact of electricity production, transportation and use on the environment (strive to reduce greenhouse gases responsible for climate change) - need to incorporate climate change driven constraints into system planning and operation (EU renewables targets; 80% 2050 CO2 targets; Meeting UK carbon budgets will require large scale decarbonisation of the electricity sector by 2030)
  • Integration of distributed generation including intermittent energy technologies & micro generation - what type of network architecture - reliability and power quality - communication and control aspects of networks - incorporation of demand response and demand side participation (impact of smart meters) - role of energy storage
  • Incorporation of smart meters and smart grids (impact on demand and networks)
  • Transmission (on- and offshore) and distribution network planning under uncertainty of intermittent renewable resources such as wind and the uncertainty of markets and regulatory policy
  • Interaction between electricity and gas networks - Integrated network (multi energy vector) research and optimisation
  • Encouraging network innovation and low carbon generation through regulation and market design
  • Assessing the potential of heat networks
  • Impact of greater European market/network integration (gas and electricity)

These projects are reviewed in this report and from these high level research issues, some of the key research challenges identified are summarised as follows:

  • Identifying and quantifying the costs and benefits of community heating and energy systems
  • Quantifying Costs and Benefits of Integrating UK and EU Energy Infrastructures
  • Smart meters and demand side participation
  • The role of gas in the UK energy system
  • Resilience of gas systems
  • Compatibility of energy market and climate objectives and risks in a post EMR world