Energy is crucial to modern life. Addressing the challenges we face in delivering reliable, low cost and low emission energy services require a ‘whole system’ perspective, considering generation, networks and demand, multiple energy vectors and also economic aspects. At Manchester we have the capability needed to meet those challenges.
Energy is crucial to modern life. Addressing the challenges we face in delivering reliable, low cost and low emission energy services require a ‘whole system’ perspective, considering generation, networks and demand, multiple energy vectors and also economic aspects. At Manchester we have the capability needed to meet those challenges.”
I have now broadened my interest to cover technical, economic, and latterly, social aspects of modelling and assessment of demand-side energy resources (e.g., flexible demand, storage and distributed generation), particularly heating and transport, especially when organised into districts or communities. Key themes within my work are appreciation of the ‘whole system’, including all energy vectors (e.g., electricity, heat, gas etc.) and the upstream electricity system. Integration of district assessment with the upstream electricity system is crucial as it is the flexibility requirements (to integrate renewables, to avoid network enhancement and to maintain reliable grid operation) which drive demand for flexibility from the demand-side. Consideration of the whole system is crucial to ensure minimisation of system costs and emissions, rather than only local costs and emissions (which can result in increased system costs and emissions). After the system benefits of an intervention has been understood it is necessary to understand the business case, as roll-out of the technologies only occurs if investors perceive private benefits, no matter how significant the system benefits.
Increasing focus on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and rapidly reducing prices for wind and solar photo-voltaic generation is hastening adoption of these intermittent generation sources. Many small and isolated electricity systems (such as Ireland and Australia) are already facing the operational challenges this produces. Significant penetration of distributed generation and electrified heating and transport will similarly produce operational problems at the distribution level. As a result the value of flexible resources will continue to increase. Quantifying that value will required continued innovation in, amongst other factors, how we deal with uncertainty, how the complexity resulting from the human dimension can be managed, how we can incorporate interactions between energy vectors (including currently marginal ones, such as Hydrogen) and competing technologies. Appreciating all these factors is crucial to develop positive business cases for flexible technologies that will increase local and system efficiency, and hence reduce emissions and maintain reliable energy delivery at lowest cost. I look forward to rising to the challenge.