People, Energy and Buildings: Distribution, Diversity and Dynamics (PEB:D3)

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources


To enable the UK to meet legally binding carbon targets and establish a resilient and secure energy system, the coming decades need to see an historic transition: the almost complete decarbonisation of energy supply, the development of a new heat supply system and the comprehensive refurbishment of the housing stock.Key elements in this transition include: - A shift to a largely-electric heat supply system, based on a decarbonised grid reliant on less controllable sources of generation such as wind and nuclear. This will produce considerable pressure on suppliers to better understand and control demand.- Significant increases in energy price, either as a result of policy or of market forces, which without other interventions will significantly increase levels of fuel poverty. Shifts to more capital intensive forms of generation will move the focus of energy bills from quarterly energy to peak power demand. Diversity, which depends on the variability of the timing of peak demands for individual households, will be a crucial factor in sizing and operating energy systems. - Large-scale renovation aimed at significantly reducing heat loss of dwellings. This will both require and induce profound impacts in occupant behaviour which need to be understood.To manage this transition successfully we must rapidly achieve a better understanding of the interplay between human factors (social, economic, behavioural), new technologies for dwellings, and new sources of energy. Existing models of energy-using behaviour do not capture the variability of energy using behaviours, instead relying on averages. Recent work has begun to reveal profound differences between different groups of occupants for example in their tendency to take benefits of energy efficiency improvements as higher comfort rather than a reduction in energy demand (take-back). Unless these differences are made explicit in models, policies and investment decisions are likely to be targeted inappropriately. This is likely to be compounded by use of models of the housing stock that provide only the crudest insight into the temporal variation of demand and none into the hourly interplay of demand and supply that will be critical to the cost-effective management of large tranches of renewable and nuclear generation. It is clear that new tools and approaches are needed.This proposal aims to develop such tools by bringing together an international multi-disciplinary team of social scientists, building scientists and energy systems modellers who will work within a collaborative interdisciplinary analysis, evaluation and interpretation framework and draw on new sources of data to build novel and ambitious, dynamic demand-supply models. This is a combination rarely before applied to this sector and never at this scale.From this work, we anticipate the following innovations: 1. New insights into the complexity and variability of energy consuming behaviour based on newly available data sets and novel analytical approaches. 2. Development of new models making it possible for the first time to coherently link behaviour, the built stock and the energy supply in dynamic, hourly demand-supply system models.3. Development of strategic scenarios drawing out the insights from the models and making explicit their practical implications and application, through an interdisciplinary process of critical analysis, evaluation and interpretation.All of this will enable us to address the following questions. How are internal temperatures changing? How do energy efficiency improvements in houses and occupant behaviour interact? What is the real impact of take-back? How can the UK minimise the combined costs of renovating the housing stock and renewing energy supply systems? How should this affect government policy, the business strategies of energy supply companies and those involved in the management and renovation of dwellings?

Planned Impact

The main impact this project will have is through industry (particularly utilities) and government. In both cases this project has specific and well defined routes to this impact. This section describes these routes whereas the main Impact Plan attached to the proposal defines some of the mechanisms that will be put into place to facilitate this impact. Utilities need to plan for less predictable sources of energy (e.g. renewable) and increased reliance on electricity as the key domestic energy vector. This will mean an energy system with significantly less energy storage and much higher capital costs than is currently the case in the UK. The various supplier obligations also mean that energy supply companies, major stakeholders in this project, have an unprecedented direct business interest in the future co-evolution of consumer behaviour, dwelling performance and electricity and heat supply infrastructure. This means that they will need to understand better how and why energy demand varies. Models that can better describe occupant energy use will play an important role in this as will stock (energy demand) models which can link to supply models. These are all critical areas of development of this proposal. They will also need to develop new business models for the future, which will increasingly be based around distributed energy generation and the control of energy demand and in particular peak power demands. Models of the stock which are dynamic but also capture the diversity of stock and diversity of energy use will be particularly effective at helping target particular business models at particular sectors of occupant behaviour and built stock. By working collaboratively with EDF there will be a direct route to impact in the case of EDF (who are paying half the cost of the research) and to other utilities via the traditional routes of academic dissemination (journals and conferences) throughout the research project (there will be no constraints on the publication of academic results). The other main route for Impact will be through government departments. The following lists the specific government departments and how they will benefit: DECC sees this area of activity as so important that it is currently commissioning the development of a National Household Model (NHM) which is to be open source. While it may be largely based initially on existing models, it has identified additional social research and the incorporation of household characteristics as important areas of development, such that the eventual NHM model structure will be capable of incorporating new (2nd generation) developments such as planned in this proposal. DECC has also compiled a Household energy data framework (HEED) which it is currently developing and populating. This data framework is intended not only for policy use but also for use by academics. The novel methods of data analysis will produce new insights that DECC can use. DCLG is responsible for developing Building Regulations which is one of the key government policies for meeting UK carbon targets. Regulatory Impact Assessments undertaken by DCLG in the course of revising Building Regulations are highly complex, but incorporate rudimentary models of impact on energy supply systems of far-reaching changes to both new and existing dwellings and of the very significant investments in renewable heat and electricity that will result from the 2016 zero carbon target. The dynamic, coupled demand-supply model that will emerge from this project will be essential to their ability to develop and appraise energy efficiency standards for new and existing buildings in an effective and sure-footed way. Defra commissions the Domestic Energy Fact File which utilises data from the English Housing Survey (EHS) plus stock modelling to track the energy efficiency of the English housing stock.The results from this project (in particular objective 2) would enable them to deliver much better predictions.


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Description Through the course of PEB a dynamic energy model was further developed Dynamic Energy Model (DynEMo). This modelled the stocks of dwellings in UK and France and transient performance with diff weather heating systems storage and controls. The databases of the specific household and dwellings stocks of the UK and France were built. Various assumptions were made about the future changes to energy efficiency of the buildings through retrofit and new build were made. The dynamic modelling was checked against the current French and UK load curves. It was found that electric heating systems in France are controlled very differently from gas heating systems in the UK. The model was run in different scenarios to look at how the domestic sector electricity load curves might evolve the period to 2050. This research provided insight into how the efficiency and heating system mix for dwellings might impact on future electricity systems of France and UK.

Temperature measurement of actual dwellings from the CARB study were used in the development of a separate dynamic model of dwellings in order to estimate the role of thermal capacity of dwellings on the impact of and control strategies of heat loads in dwellings.
Exploitation Route These two modellings efforts have been used to further develop dynamic modelling nationally and the development of a city energy and environment model to be used by city stakeholders for energy planning.
Sectors Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description They are being used to inform the thinking of EDF. Some of the conclusions and techniques from this project have been used to develop models being used by National Grid and Western Power Distributions.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Education,Energy
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services