Mathematical foundations for energy networks: buffering, storage and transmission

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Engineering and Computing Sciences

Abstract

Electrical power grids are complex networked systems. Demand andsupply must be balanced on a minute-by-minute basis and there arelimited opportunities for large-scale storage. Further, flows innetworks are subject to the laws of physics, so that there is verylittle control over the routing of flows; generating capacity cannotin general be instantly switched on or off; sources of generationcapacity, whether renewable or nuclear, are often located far from theurban and industrial areas they must serve. In today's market theprovision of generation capacity is typically determined by marketforces in which many competing operators each seek to optimize theirown returns.The need to reduce carbon emissions has led to new policy which willtransform the grid. Notably, renewable sources such as wind powerproduce supplies which are highly variable, and often unpredictableeven on relatively short time scales. To combat this variability theintroduction of demand response through dynamic prices has beenproposed. There is also significant future potential for thebuffering and storage of electrical energy over short time scales.These possibilities are integrated through the advent of smart gridtechnology, with the possibility of real-time price signalling towhich consumers may respond flexibly. Further, the availability tothe network of significant short-term buffering and storage, alongwith the ability to time-shift demand, should assist in the avoidanceof transient monopolies (localised in space or time) which isconsidered to be one of the reasons for the problems encountered inthe deregulated market in California in the last decade.The energy grid of the future thus poses formidable challenges forengineers and mathematicians. Among the questions to be answered are:- will geographic diversity of supply help to reduce volatility?- will demand response through pricing help to reduce the impact of volatility?- to what extent can buffering and storage assist in the balancing of supply and demand?- what is the effect of power system dynamics in a volatile network?- how may we schedule generation units and calculate efficient reserves for a reliable grid in this more complex setting?- how do we do better forecasting in this new world?We propose to develop mathematical techniques to assist in answeringthese questions, to measure the costs of addressing the volatilitiesin future networks, and to assess the comparative effectiveness of thevarious forms of time- and space-shifting of energy which may be used;this will then enable the benefits of such measures to be tradedagainst each other. We shall develop these techniques in the contextof the transmission and distribution networks: while buffering,storage and the time-shifting of demand all correspond to movingenergy through time, the ability of the network to move energy throughspace - determined by the capacities in its links and the laws ofphysics - is inextricably linked to the benefits of moving energythrough time.There are two major and interlinked themes: (a) the development of themathematics of volatility in energy networks: of particular importancehere is the creation of a calculus of effective capacities, formeasuring capacity required by flows exhibiting volatility on a rangeof time- and space-scales, and for determining those time- andspace-scales which are of critical importance in the operation of anetwork; and (b) the development of advanced probabilistic techniquesfor measuring the effects of extreme events in networks. These twothemes together provide the results necessary to assess, control andoptimize the performance of energy networks, and to devise the pricingand incentivisation schemes for competing suppliers, operators andconsumers so as to maximise economic efficiency.

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/I016953/1 01/07/2011 19/05/2013 £111,156
EP/I016953/2 Transfer EP/I016953/1 22/04/2013 30/09/2015 £56,530
 
Description Key findings of this work include that energy storage systems need to be sized and located carefully and that they need to provide multiple services to the network to be economically viable, that probabilistic techniques are required to adequately evaluate and understand their value in future networks and that the value of storage is directly related to the amount of renewable energy in the networks.
Exploitation Route This work can be embedded in probabilistic planning tools developed by commercial companies to supply to the electrical utilities sector. They can also be used by government to inform policy decisions regarding incentives for energy storage deployment.
Sectors Energy,Environment

 
Description The findings of this research have been used to inform three industrial energy storage projects. Smarter Network Storage with UK Power Networks, Customer Led Network Revolution with Northern Powergrid and Energy Storage for low voltage networks with Electricity North West. The fundamental investigation into the modelling and simulation of energy storage systems with Mathematicians in electrical networks has provided the basis for more practical and site specific deployments of energy storage systems on UK electrical distribution networks. The research in this project also led to Prof Phil Taylor becoming a founding member of the faraday Institution for battery technology.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Expert witness for Northern Powergrid CMA appeal against Ofgem re Smart Grid savings including storage
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact I acted as an expert witness regarding an appeal against the regulator regarding smart grid benefits including storage. This was the first time anyone had appealed a price control review since privatisation. The CMA found in favour of Northern Powergrid who I was acting for. This led to £33m more to be spent on preparing electrical networks for the low carbon transition. This has changed the way electricity regulation will be carried out from now on.
URL https://www.gov.uk/cma-cases/energy-price-control-appeal-northern-powergrid
 
Description BBC Breakfast TV appearance 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I appeared on BBC breakfast and the Today programme on Radio 4 as part of an interview and filming re storage and flexibility with Roger Harrabin
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://t.co/Cvx6ex4KkI
 
Description Blog article on energy modelling 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Blog article on good modelling practice, as part of a University of Edinburgh series relating to the Scottish Government's energy strategy
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://blogs.sps.ed.ac.uk/global-environment-society-academy/2017/05/22/energy-systems-modelling-mod...
 
Description Channel News Asia TV Debate re future energy including storage 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This 1 hour TV programme on Channel news asia reached millions of viewers, I was the lead person on the panel and discussions focussed on storage
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.channelnewsasia.com/tv/tvshows/perspectives/phil-taylor-smart-meters/2298706.html
 
Description DECC Energy Storage Steering Committee 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was appointed to the DECC energy storage steering where I have been providing advice regarding commercial and regulatory changes that would remove barriers for the proliferation of energy storage.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
 
Description GO Science masterclass 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited "Masterclass" by Chris Dent on modelling in public policy to the Government Office of Science Data Science Stream
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description ICMS Energy Systems Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Scoping workshop on mathematical science research needs in management of energy systems. Linked to Isaac Newton Institute programme on Mathematics of Energy Systems in 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.icms.org.uk/energynetworks.php
 
Description KTN Energy Study Group, Edinburgh, December 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Brainstorming session between mathematical scientists and five industry/government challenges
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2018
URL http://www.icms.org.uk/KTN_Energy_SG.php
 
Description Labour and Conservative party fringe debates 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was a panel member in a debate about future energy at the Labour and Conservative party conferences organised by Newcastle University, including labour and conservative MPs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://my.ncl.ac.uk/staff/nuconnections/item/party-conferences