New half-million pound project to examine role of smart grids

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has awarded over £500,000 to support a new research project that examines scenarios for smart grids in the UK.

The aim of smart grids is to improve the flexibility of today’s electricity networks to manage increasing demand from consumers and industry, to enable increasing amounts of renewable generation to be connected, and to improve the monitoring and operation of the equipment that makes up the networks. Spin-offs for consumers may include more accurate metering and billing. By making the UK’s energy networks fit for the twenty-first century, smart grids can help make UK business and industry more competitive internationally.

Smart grids will be able to respond intelligently to the behaviour and actions of all electrical-power users. The grids offer clear potential to contribute to the UK’s policy goals of a transition to a low-carbon economy by transforming the way the UK produces, delivers and consumes energy as well as keeping the UK at the forefront of research into energy networks and services.

The project will be led by Dr. Nazmiye Ozkan, Senior Research Fellow at Policy Studies Institute, part of the University of Westminster. Dr Ozkan said: “The framework, in line with UKERC’s aims, will provide key strategic insights which will help steer the development and implementation of smart grids while improving the understanding and management of the relevant risks and barriers. In particular, we will seek to uncover critical decision points (whether from a regulatory or a policy perspective) and spatial differences in the functionality and capabilities of smart grids. This project will bring new knowledge regarding possible UK energy-system transitions, which will help to provide a more complete and accurate understanding of the implications for people and society, and provide valuable support for government decisions on UK policy.”

Researchers at Brunel University, Cardiff University, University of Exeter and the University of Nottingham are all contributing to this leading-edge project. This two-year project is bringing together some of the UK’s leading researchers in energy policy, behavioural psychology, energy-networks engineering, and energy regulation and economics.