Energy networks

To meet the UK government’s target of 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, the electricity grid will need to be almost entirely decarbonised, will interact more heavily with other sectors such as heating, cooling and transport, and will be more interconnected to our neighbouring countries.

Such a future “network of networks” is fundamentally different from the carbon dependant and compartmental energy system we have today, and requires step changes in infrastructure design and operation methodologies.

We seek to support the major transition taking place in energy networks through our research partnerships with EPSRC, the public and the private sector.

Energy networks research areas

  • Future power and energy systems

    This research theme is closely linked to and motivated by the growth in distributed generation in the UK and around the world at one hand and by the need to replace or extend the life of existing ageing power system equipment. It is also driven by the imperative to develop more sustainable energy systems with significant penetration of renewable energy sources as well as demand side participation within the context of smarter grids.

    Our research also involves advanced power system modelling and optimisation including modelling and optimisation of multi energy carrier networks, data analytics, power system dynamics, and power quality.

    Our research is often conducted in collaboration with industrial partners.  Our most recent project is VISOR which aims to demonstrate the role of innovative measurement technologies and wide area monitoring in ensuring the success of our low carbon future.

    Future power and energy systems research group

  • High voltage and power system plant

    HV research has been an integral part of the work of the EEPS group since the 1950s when the first laboratory was opened at the University. The National Grid High Voltage Research Centre is now home to the largest HV laboratory of any UK university and is capable of testing equipment designed for use on the 400kV power system.

    Research work in the facility is split into a number of areas. Particular areas of competency include transformer insulation and monitoring, polymeric insulation and power system transients. We develop condition monitoring and lifetime assessment techniques for ageing power system plant infrastructure, study all the technical issues related to application of novel insulation materials in power system plant, and participate into technology innovation for aerospace applications.

    High voltage and power system plant research group

  • Power system protection, control and communications

    The importance of power system protection has been highlighted by recent blackouts and efforts continue in research relating to wide area protection leveraging other modern developments such as the global positioning satellites. Work on power system communications both within and external to substations is also undertaken.

    Power system protection, control and communication research group

  • Smart distribution networks

    The distribution network supplies electricity directly from the transmission system to end users, and will need to undergo significant developments to cope with the de-carbonisation of electricity generation, transport and heat. The distribution network, historically designed for unidirectional power flows and with very limited observability, will need to accommodate increased levels of small to medium scale distributed generation such as photovoltaic systems and wind farms. Meanwhile, electrical energy demand is set to rise with the electrification of transport and heat, putting additional strains on the network.

    The challenges of adapting the distribution network to new and variable levels of demand and generation require forward thinking and technical innovation, and the EEPS Group is at the forefront of research and development in this sector. From understanding the ageing process of critical assets, to the evaluation of the cost-effective integration of technologies such as photovoltaics and storage, to the holistic assessment of multi energy vectors, EEPS is positioned as one of the strongest groups worldwide. Working directly with Distribution Network Operators, EEPS provides academic expertise and facilities to test and develop solutions to bring electricity distribution networks into the low carbon future.

    Smart distribution networks research group

Smart Grids

The Government expects electricity consumption to almost double by 2050.

To supply this increase in demand, the North West's power network operator, Electricity North West, is radically changing the way the network works so that it operates as a smart network, allowing supply to meet demand. Electricity North West Limited (ENWL), one of the Distribution Network Operators in the UK and a strategic partner of The University of Manchester, has released a video to explain the importance of their new Network Management System - a critical step towards Smart Grids.
The video includes an appearance from Manchester Energy’s Dr Luis(Nando) Ochoa and our PV systems on top of the University's Ferranti Building.

Power Networks

The Power Networks CDT is committed to reducing CO2 emissions, which requires a fundamental transformation in how power networks are designed, operated and financed. The Centre will help ensure future networks support the electrification of energy, especially heat and transport, and encourage greater use of low carbon energy sources.

Power Networks CDT

IRES-8 Project

The overall aim of the IRES-8 project is to train the future energy research leaders by combining the strengths of leading EU and Chinese research institutions to address the global challenges of electrical energy supply and demand.

IRES-8 Project

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