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National Energy Research Network


NERN Newsletter

Welcome to the National Energy Research Network newsletter, which is published weekly and aims to provide relevant information to energy researchers. Extra content is always welcome - if you would like something added please contact the editor, Dr Mike Weston. You can view previous NERN newsletters in the archive.

Newsletter 297 - 19/09/14

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Interesting developments


Jobs and opportunities


Events and Conferences

NERN blog

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Interesting developments

First Call: “World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation”, Manchester, UK, 2-4 September 2015

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Sat 18 October 2014 12:06 BST - (24 Reads)

Climate change is among the major challenges of modern times. As the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shown, there are still many challenges ahead and many needs to be met, calling from action not only from governments, but also from various stakeholders. The recent reports issued by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate remind us that it is important to act both in the mitigation, and adaptation fronts.

Apart from the knowledge offered by modelling and forecasts, which allow us to understand the problem and how it develops in the future, we need to know more about approaches, methods and tools, which may help us to cope with the social, economic and political problems posed by climate change, right now. In order words, we need to speed up developments in the field of climate change adaptation.

It is against this background that the “World Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation” will be organised by Manchester Metropolitan University (UK),  and the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), in cooperation with the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP) and the United Nations University initiative “Regional Centres of  Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development” (RCE). The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, covering some of the key areas in the field of climate change adaptation.

The Symposium will be of special interests to researchers, government agencies, NGOs and companies engaged in the field of climate change adaptation, as well as development and aid agencies funding climate change adaptation process in developing countries. The Symposium (not to be confused with a Conference), will offer participants a unique opportunity to document and disseminate their work, interacting with their peers from across the world.

For more information please go here.


Tough to swallow

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Sat 18 October 2014 12:01 BST - (20 Reads)

Record Greenhouse Gas Levels Impact Atmosphere and Oceans - The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2013, propelled by a surge in levels of carbon dioxide.  This is according to the World Meteorological Organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, which injected even greater urgency into the need for concerted international action against accelerating and potentially devastating climate change. The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin showed that between 1990 and 2013 there was a 34% increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. In 2013, concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 142% of the pre-industrial era (1750), and of methane and nitrous oxide 253% and 121% respectively. The observations from WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) network showed that CO2 levels increased more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other year since 1984. Preliminary data indicated that this was possibly related to reduced CO2 uptake by the earth’s biosphere in addition to the steadily increasing CO2 emissions.

The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations – and not emissions - of greenhouse gases. Emissions represent what goes into the atmosphere. Concentrations represent what remains in the atmosphere after the complex system of interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere and the oceans. About a quarter of the total emissions are taken up by the oceans and another quarter by the biosphere, reducing in this way the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The ocean cushions the increase in CO2 that would otherwise occur in the atmosphere, but with far-reaching impacts. The current rate of ocean acidification appears unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years, according to an analysis in the report.

New government diet guidelines might be good for Americans' health, but they would be far from healthy for the climate - Scientists at the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems have indicated that if Americans adopted the dietary guidelines suggested by their own Department of Agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions would go up by 12 percent. Even if Americans did what dietary campaigners urge and restricted themselves to a healthier 2,000 calories a day, emissions would not fall significantly.

Direct emissions from agriculture make up between 10 percent and 12 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions. If you throw in factors such as fertilizer and chemical production, fuel use and agricultural land-use change, the proportion rises – along with the uncertainty – to between 17 percent and 32 percent. Researchers may enhance yields and farmers may use resources more efficiently, but populations will increase − and so will demand for meat and dairy products.

The stufy looked at greenhouse gas emissions associated with 100 foods. It considered the losses and waste in the food business: around a third of all food globally is lost or thrown away, and emissions from wasted food in the U.S. add up to the equivalent of an extra 33 million cars on American roads. It included the potential effects of social change by looking at studies from Germany and Switzerland, at EU targets, and at calculations of the demand for water and fertilizer in Asia and Africa − to get a surer picture of the costs and losses and emissions associated with agriculture.


Something old, something new…

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Sat 18 October 2014 11:51 BST - (18 Reads)

Storing renewable energy in a thousand basements - Demonstrations from Hawaii to Pennsylvania to the eastern banks of Canada are showing that a "fleet" of water or space heaters can act as a sort of fast-acting sponge that absorbs extra electricity on the grid, especially wind power. The idea is both simple and extremely complex. A handful of companies are rolling out wireless controllers that work with existing water heaters — that's the easy part — and building "virtual power plants" that may make a crowd of heaters as responsive as a traditional power plant.

A four-year test is wrapping up in the Maritime provinces of Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). There, 16 or 17 megawatts of heaters in homes and businesses are storing energy in tandem with the forecast output from wind turbines. New Brunswick now gets 8 percent of its electricity from wind. The emerging term for this technology is the grid-integrated water heater (GIWH). The unit's controller is connected to the Internet or to a cell network, and it switches the heat on or off very quickly, even in microseconds. A connected space heater works in much the same way. Meanwhile, the customer's water (or air) remains consistently hot.

A hundred water heaters are undergoing tests at Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO). They are part of a simulation that has them soaking up power from wind farms when the turbines produce more power than the grid can use, according to Earle Ifuku, director of HECO's demand response division. HECO's eventual plan is to have the water heaters smooth the output from wind farms so the utility can turn its attention to the even more unpredictable output from the state's many rooftop solar installations.

World’s First 3D Printed Electric Car - In a matter of two days, history was made at Chicago’s McCormick Place, as the world’s first 3D printed electric car—named Strati, Italian for “layers”– took its first test drive. The concept of Strati began just six months ago, before being brought to the showroom floor of the International Manufacturing Technology Show.

The design which includes less than 50 parts was a collaborative effort by the team that developed an engineering process to manufacture an entire car with carbon fiber plastic and print it with a large 3D printer. Oak Ridge National Laboratory also collaborated on the concept that could bring custom printed cars to the marketplace by 2015.

Attendees got a first-hand look at the body of the car being printed layer by layer over a 44-hour period. Then, the non-printable parts, like the engine, lights and glass windshield were added. The top speed of the Strati is 40mph and a range of 120 miles on one charge. The developers say that the initial retail cost will start at $18,000 and go upwards of $30,000. However, when it comes time for a change, many of the parts can be reused.


Fractured narrative...

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Sat 18 October 2014 11:41 BST - (21 Reads)

Faulty gas wells, not fracking, pollute water - Faulty wells, not deep underground fracking, is the main reason that natural gas extraction from shale rock has contaminated drinking water in parts of Texas and Pennsylvania, says a study by researchers from five universities.

As natural gas production increases in the United States, so, too, have reports of well water contaminated with methane. Now a study, the first to make comprehensive use of "stray gas forensics," not only found pollution in multiple wells but also identifies the culprit.

Over a two-year period, the researchers took samples from 130 drinking water wells where contamination had been suspected in the two states. They found contamination in eight clusters of wells — seven in Pennsylvania and one in Texas — from deep underground in the Marcellus shale and from shallower, intermediate levels in both states. They then used a novel combination of noble gas and hydrocarbon tracers to look at the methane's chemical signature and determine its source. These tracers indicated the methane was neither naturally occurring nor the result of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which a water mixture is blasted underground to break apart shale rock and extract natural gas from its pores.

In four of the contaminated clusters, methane occurred because of insufficient rings of cement around a gas well's shaft, the study says. In three clusters, it leaked through faulty well casings, and in one, it was linked to an underground well failure.

Gas production blamed for rise in Colorado, New Mexico quakes - The deep injection of wastewater underground by energy companies during methane gas extraction has caused a dramatic rise in the number of earthquakes in Colorado and New Mexico since 2001, U.S. government scientists have said. The study by U.S. Geological Survey researchers is the latest to link energy production methods to an increase in quakes in regions where those techniques are used.

The new study, published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA), focused on the Raton Basin, which stretches from southern Colorado into northern New Mexico. The report said the area had been "seismically quiet" until shortly after major fluid injection began in 1999. But since 2001, the scientists said, the area experienced 16 earthquakes of greater than 3.8 magnitude, compared with only one of that strength recorded during the previous three decades.

The increase in earthquakes is limited to the area of industrial activity and within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of wastewater injection wells and the researchers said "several lines of evidence" suggest the earthquakes are directly related to wastewater disposal as a by-product of extracting methane, and not to the separate practice of hydraulic fracturing occurring in the area.

The USGS scientists said there are now 21 high-volume wastewater disposal wells in Colorado and seven in New Mexico, and that since mid-2000 the total injection rate across the basin has ranged from 1.5 to 3.6 million barrels per month. They said the timing and location of seismic events correspond to the documented pattern of injected wastewater, and that their findings suggest seismic events are initiated shortly after an increase in injection rates.


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This week's reports

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Sat 18 October 2014 10:22 BST - (20 Reads)

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Jobs and opportunities

Professor in Corrosion Performance of Energy Systems, University of Manchester

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Sun 12 October 2014 10:46 BST - (24 Reads)

Through generous sponsorship by the Royal Academy of Engineering and EDF Energy the University of Manchester are seeking to appoint an outstanding individual to provide leadership to the development and delivery of an innovative research programme in the field of corrosion performance of energy systems. This prestigious position is designed to promote strong academic input into the commercial research programmes of EDF Energy by focusing an academic research “pull” into corrosion and materials performance issues in both conventional and (current and future) nuclear power generation systems.

Successful candidiates will be required to secure substantial research funding, supervise postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, and maintain and extend collaborations to deliver both academic and external impact. Modest teaching and administrative duties will be allocated in accordance with the School of Material’s practice under direction from the Head of School.

The establishment of this prestigious Chair position will build on the pioneering nuclear science and engineering research capability at Manchester which includes outstanding facilities including suites of autoclaves for environmental testing of materials in AGR, PWR and ABWR reactor environments, the Dalton Cumbrian Facility for radiation testing, and academic access to the National Nuclear Laboratory’s Central Laboratory for research on highly radioactive materials.

For more information please go here. The closing date for applications is the 12th October 2014.


Innovation Development Officer, Community Energy Scotland

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Wed 24 September 2014 10:35 BST - (22 Reads)

Community Energy Scotland is seeking to employ an Innovation Development Officer to provide technical and project management support to a growing portfolio of community-led energy innovation projects across Scotland.

Through a range of technical and commercial approaches, these projects aim to:

  • Link local energy demand to local energy generation
  • Increase the efficient use of renewable energy for meeting local heat, electricity and transport needs
  • Make energy services for local households and businesses more affordable and resilient
  • Create viable financial models for investment in energy distribution infrastructure and new business models for energy delivery
  • Accelerate the deployment of community owned generation by reducing grid connection costs and timeframes

Main Tasks

  • To support the development of Community Energy Scotland’s Local Energy Economies agenda, a portfolio of innovative community energy projects, research activities and policy engagement intended to create new opportunities for community energy and help communities to directly address local energy needs
  • To contribute to the delivery of innovation and smart grid projects funded by the Scottish Government’s CARES programme and other funding sources
  • To provide technical analysis of demand and generation profiles, and opportunities for closer integration of renewable energy sources and local loads
  • Establish, build and review relationships with key stakeholders in the communities active and expressing interest in the development of innovative renewable energy solutions
  • Prepare, deliver and facilitate presentations/open meetings and discussions with community bodies

For more information please go here. The closing date is the 24th September 2014.


Smart Grid Metrology Research Engineer (Research Associate), Power Networks Demonstration Centre , University of Strathclyde

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Wed 01 October 2014 10:28 BST - (25 Reads)

This new role of Smart Grid Metrology Research Engineer (Research Associate) is an exciting and unique joint appointment between PNDC and NPL to deliver partnership in power system modelling and simulation. The successful cadidate will test new technologies and solutions in the field of electrical power systems through work on a wide range of technical projects, including implementation of new technologies in the field of protection, control and automation, development/implementation of new schemes, development/implementation of network and demand side management solutions and execution of hardware and power hardware in the loop simulations. They will be primarily based at PNDC and travel regularly to NPL in Teddington, with periods based at NPL as required. There will be an initial three month training period based at NPL.

The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow possesses a large internationally rated Engineering Faculty with a proud history of successful joint ventures with industrial and enterprise partners. As part of the University’s strategic development, the Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) has been established in Wardpark North near Cumbernauld. The PNDC is a world-class facility with dedicated staff that will accelerate the adoption of new, 'smart' technologies within advanced power grids, supporting the increased accommodation of renewable energy, electric vehicles and demand side management. The £12.5 million Centre – the first of its kind in Europe – has been founded by the University of Strathclyde and leading energy companies including ScottishPower Energy Networks and Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution, with support from Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council. With the addition of S&C Electric, Omicron, and Locamation, the Centre has expanded its membership to five industry partners and this growth is set to continue.

The PNDC provides: a purpose-built platform for showcasing state of the art electrical distribution, generation, storage and demand side innovation; a rapid technology pipeline accelerating the proving and deployment of integrated smart grid solutions with commercial partners; a realistic and controllable test bed from primary plant to state-of-the-art control room for the development of emerging smart grid technologies that will support the realisation of a de-carbonised grid. NPL is one of the UK’s leading science facilities and research centres. NPL occupies a unique position as the UK's National Measurement Institute and sits at the intersection between scientific discovery and real world application. The Electromagnetics area, under the auspices of NPL’s Centre for Carbon Measurement, is working on smart grids projects which focus on the application of measurements to the design and operation of smart grids.

Applicants should possess a good honours degree and a PhD, or equivalent professional experience, in electrical engineering and an ability to plan and conduct individual and collaborative research and knowledge exchange activity in the field, as well as being able to generate new ideas and visions. They should have advanced knowledge of electrical power systems and an appreciation of the associated protection, control and automation schemes presently implemented at distribution and transmission networks, and be capable of applying this knowledge in a highly practical environment. Excellent communication skills and the ability to work within a team environment are essential. Familiarity with and simulation software and RTDS would be desirable.

For more information please go here. The closing date for applications is the 1st of October 2014




Visit the jobs webpage for more opportunities and as ever if you know of any jobs, please let me know.

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Analysis of Data from Heat Pumps installed via the Renewable Heat Premium Payment Scheme

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Mon 13 October 2014 11:07 BST - (24 Reads)

The Department of Energy and Climate Change invites tenders for an analysis of data from heat pumps installed via the renewable heat premium payment scheme. This study will evaluate the performance of heat pumps installed via the premium payment scheme. The objectives are:

  • to summarise overall efficiencies of the heat pump systems;
  • to provide supplementary information for the Renewal Energy Directive Reporting;
  • to re-evaluate SAP modelling of heat pumps and assess the in-use factors in Green Deal Assessments for heat pumps;
  • to provide a more detailed analysis of the heat pumps’ performance, including weather-corrected analysis of annual and monthly efficiencies;
  • to assess the reasons for good or poor performance;
  • to determine how measured performance relates to customer satisfaction, as described in the householder questionnaires;
  • to determine whether microgeneration certification installation standards were followed correctly.

Tenderers must have detailed engineering knowledge of heat pumps as well as data analysis expertise, and demonstrate an understanding of the policy issues affecting the installation of heat pumps in the UK. Consortium bids are welcomed.

The anticipated budget is between £220,000 and £320,000 excluding VAT. The contract will last 23 months.

For more information please go here. The closing date for applications is the 13th October 2014.



Heat Networks Demonstrator SBRI

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Thu 02 October 2014 11:16 BST - (19 Reads)

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will be investing up to £6m in a new Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) to develop novel heat network technologies which, when demonstrated on existing heat networks, can deliver significant improvements in terms of cost or performance.

According to the Low Carbon Innovation Coordination Group (LCICG) space and water heating (excluding industrial process heat) is expected to constitute between 12-25% of UK energy demand through to 2050. Recent analysis suggests that heat networks could potentially supply 15-25% of demand in 2050, providing system cost savings of £5.5bn. Innovation is required to address the barriers to greater deployment of heat networks in the UK, namely cost and performance efficiency. DECC is also interested in developing a better understanding of the system benefits that result from the integration of different heat network technologies.

The competition is intended to have a relatively broad scope. As a guide, technologies to be developed, and then demonstrated on an existing heat network, might include;

  • Water source (marine or fresh) heat pumps, or novel ground source heat pumps;
  • Other innovative low carbon heat sources, e.g. technologies for recovering waste heat from industry and power stations;
  • Novel large-scale thermal storage, i.e. beyond conventional hot water storage;
  • Improved controls that deliver greater system cost-effectiveness, e.g. in terms of switching efficiently between different heat sources (depending on heat load and availability);
  • Innovative technologies that can be applied to cooling networks, e.g. more efficient absorption chillers that use heat to produce cold air/ water, or more efficient cogeneration of heating/ electricity/ cooling.

DECC in collaboration with the Knowledge Transfer Network will be hosting a briefing and industry engagement event on Thursday 2nd October in Manchester to promote the competition. This event will be an opportunity to find out more about the heat network competition and to connect with potential collaborators across the supply chain.

For more information please go here.


NERC Follow-on Fund

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Tue 18 November 2014 11:23 GMT - (20 Reads)

NERC works together with universities and research centres to sustain world-leading research that delivers value and impact for the UK economy and society. The Follow-on Fund is a 'proof of concept' fund to support the commercialisation of ideas arising from that NERC-funded research.

As the name suggests, the Follow-on Fund picks up where research programme and discovery science (responsive mode) grants leave off and enables those research outputs to be further developed so their commercial potential can be realised.

Examples of activities funded include technology licensing, launching technology-based products or services, selling know-how based consultancy services, and the commercialisation of NERC-funded datasets. Proposals are invited for projects pursuing any of these approaches or, indeed, others.

As a pilot, for the autumn call there is the opportunity to apply for up to £250k at 100% FEC (£200k NERC contribution at 80% FEC) for development projects lasting between 3 and 24 months (previously the call was limited to £125k 100% FEC for up to 12 months). The upper limits have been increased in order to provide projects requiring more time or funding with the very best opportunity to achieve commercial uptake of their research outputs. It is anticipated, however, that the previous limits will remain sufficient for many projects.

All awards over £125k (100% FEC) will be subject to an interim progress review by the Proof of Concept Panel. The second half of the funding will be dependent upon appropriate progress being made. More information is provided in the guidance document below, along with an interim progress report form.

For more information please go here. The closing date is the 18th December 2014.


Connected Cities Innovation Contest

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 11:28 BST - Expires At: Tue 14 October 2014 11:28 BST - (20 Reads)

£210k is on offer to start-ups and SMEs, to trial connected cities solutions with leading industry partners. IC tomorrow is offering six businesses up to £35k each to encourage innovation around the changing urban landscape across the themes of digitally connected buildings, communities, environment and services.

They are looking for proposals from start-ups and SMEs with innovative digital ideas relevant to ‘connected cities' that will meet the future needs of the urban environment, its communities, buildings and services. They want to see solutions with potential appeal to a wide commercial market. Successful applicants will be expected to trial their proposed solutions with their industry partners for at least three months.

For more information please go here. The closing date is the 14th October 2014


Visit the funding webpage for more opportunities and if you hear of any funding opportunities, please let me know.

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Events and Conferences

Implementing climate policies in the major economies: Final conference of the LIMITS project

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Thu 25 September 2014 10:58 BST - (22 Reads)

25 September 2014, Brussels, Belgium



Historic Scotland Energy Efficiency Conference

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Wed 01 October 2014 10:59 BST - (23 Reads)

30 September- 1 October, Glasgow, UK




Climate and Finance: Financing Renewable Energy for Europe

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Wed 15 October 2014 11:01 BST - (23 Reads)

15 October 2014, London



SDON: Community Energy and Resilience Workshop

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Tue 21 October 2014 11:02 BST - (18 Reads)

21 October 2014, Birmingham, UK



Sustainable Scotland Network’s Annual Conference

Published At: Thu 18 September 2014 09:00 BST - Expires At: Tue 25 November 2014 11:03 GMT - (19 Reads)

25 November 2014, Edinburgh, UK



Visit the events webpage for more opportunities and if you would like to advertise an event please let me know.

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