Transforming Utilities' Conversion Points

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: Sch of Management

Abstract

This project looks across utilities at interdependencies and efficiencies of infrastructure at points of energy conversion. The hypothesis is that changes to these conversion points are critical to systemic sustainability and adaptability. But very few attempts have been made to consider how integrating or rebalancing (using less or more of) particular conversion points could make significant improvements to sustainability and adaptability of the system overall. This needs to be researched in the context of the user and the environment. The outcome of the current single utility approach is that power, water, transport etc are integrated at the point of use to create services demanded by end users. Services that help to shape sustainable behaviour are critical to the development of the infrastructure itself. The project will make use of existing research, such as that for energy use in the home, in order to ground our understanding of utility services needs. A fundamentally important aspect of national infrastructure is its technological context. Older infrastructure was built with a mechanical focus during a Taylorist machine paradigm. The global information (and network) age is upon us, with diverse opportunities in nanotechnology, hydrogen, battery storage, etc. In particular the ability to transmit information about utility operation and demand using telecommunications has been applied successfully to improve individual utility efficiency. The project will identify the latest relevant technologies and upcoming inventions and trends so that it frames proposals for change to the national utilities infrastructure in the current/future technological paradigm.
Our methodology to deliver this research this is to
1. Create a map of current conversion points and so identify the critical parts of the national infrastructure, volumes, network structures, institution types, regulators, and so on.
2. Create a base-line agent based model to demonstrate the sustainability and adaptability of the current national utilities infrastructure, focusing on efficiency losses and resilience issues at conversion points. A system as large as the national infrastructure cannot be readily experimented upon and so modeling is one of few appropriate methods which have a successful track record adding insights not discernable by other methods since they are better at reflecting real world systems. The model will incorporate environmental factors, such as diminishing fossil fuels, services focus and adoption of appropriate technology, and so combine existing research. All aspects of the model will be guided by the expert knowledge of the team.
3. Run a workshop bringing together representatives from all utilities, including regulators, policy makers, major and minor firms, scientists and technologists, allowing expert opinions to be debated. The key outcome is a prioritized list of future scenarios which are service focused and in the context of technological possibilities.
4. The base-line model will be developed to include the future scenarios. The most favourable scenario (or two) which generates the greatest improvement in efficiency and resilience of the system, will be further developed to create a convincing quantified case for transforming utility conversion points. There will be an analysis over time of the changes to efficiencies as a result of the transformations, which will enable a business case to be developed and incorporate changes needed to existing legislation, regulation and policy.
5. A second workshop will review the results of futures model, allowing stakeholders to verify and challenge the results, and to plan for changes using the demonstrable recommendations for improvement to sustainability and adaptability.
This project is complementary to other projects awarded funding in the Assets Sandpit, aligning with a services, integrated, technological and simplified view of national infrastructure.

Planned Impact

This research proposal emerged during the EPSRC sandpit "Achieving adaptable assets: sustainable integrated infrastructure". As such, the peer review recognized its relevance, timeliness and potential impact to make headway with national infrastructure challenges. TUCP in particular will propose synchronized change by utilities. The impact of such change will be radical and transformational in nature because it requires integrated, adaptable thinking rather than silo'd and parallel mentality. The nature of the work is necessarily inter-disciplinary and contributions from both stakeholders and academics have been planned to reflect this inter-disciplinary mix.

Our most desirable outcome is that the technological and innovative changes identified by TUCP will lead to focussed, effective change in national infrastructure. This will have long-term impact for society, the economy and for sustainable growth, through investment in world-leading infrastructure as identified by the government's infrastructure investment programme.

The project's deliverables will have indirect impact upon:

1. The nation's wealth, through directed, integrated investment in infrastructure, cost savings to end users, such as those paying bills in home, businesses, factories, ... ;
2. The nation's well-being, since the project considers the resilience and security of proposed integrated solutions (benefits such as continuity of service, avoiding black-outs, blockages, ...);
3. The nation's satisfaction with utility services which will be service focussed, not utility focussed, benefiting the general public, workers, tourists, and all who use transport, energy, water, waste, and communications.

Communities which are impacted include:

1. Legislature and planning authorities, who will need to facilitate a changed infrastructure through changed legislation and guidelines;
2. Regulators and central government departments, who will need to work together more closely;
3. Commercial enterprises involved in the build, operation and maintenance, decommissioning of infrastructure, who will need to plan for a revised national infrastructure;
4. Infrastructure investors, who will need to finance new initiatives;
5. Research/academic communities, through conference and published articles.

Publications

10 25 50
publication icon
Bale C (2015) Energy and complexity: New ways forward in Applied Energy

publication icon
Gonzalez De Durana J (2014) Agent based modeling of energy networks in Energy Conversion and Management

publication icon
Gonzalez De Durana J (2015) Agent-based modeling of the energy network for hybrid cars in Energy Conversion and Management

publication icon
Gonzalez De Durana, J (2015) Agent based modelling of local energy networks as instances of complex infrastructure systems in Emergence: Complexity & Organization

publication icon
Ji Y (2016) Signal coordination scheme based on traffic emission in IET Intelligent Transport Systems

publication icon
Liz Varga (Author) (2013) Transforming Critical Infrastructure in International Innovation

publication icon
Neaimeh M (2013) Routing systems to extend the driving range of electric vehicles in IET Intelligent Transport Systems

 
Description 1. The creation of a way to systemically represent all the components of an infrastructure system that can cope with multiple resources (input and output); technologies (and related efficiencies and material use); and policies (constraining and enabling different conversions), all at multiple scales. 2. The importance of storage technologies in infrastructure systems is a significant area for development and has immense potential for the exploitation of renewable energy. 3. That the end to end utilities infrastructure system should be driven by 'demand for services from infrastructure' rather than the supply of infrastructure products. 4. Regulators and policy makers should realise that continued adoption of household level technologies makes outcomes systemically worse and that the energy mix needs to change to have significant impact on costs, carbon emissions, ability to satisfy demand and resource (over)use. This will help increase the effectiveness of regulation and policy for utility providers. 5. The value of meso level solution such as district heating creates a spatial focus for the production and delivery of some utilities. 6. 'Smart' solutions which can automate user preferences and can learn from user behaviours have the potential to improve utility planning and resource efficiency, improving economic performance at all scales as well as improving quality of life.
Exploitation Route Further modeling of the uptake of new renewables technologies Further modelling of interdependencies in utility systems Application of the model in other national settings Application of the model in regional settings
Sectors Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

URL https://www.cranfieldccedportal.com/tucp/pages/default.aspx
 
Description Our findings have been used to elevate the value of an agent based modelling approach to understanding that utility systems are complex systems of systems with multiple interdependencies and opportunities for improvements in resource-efficiency and system outcomes (e.g. reduced CO2)
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Energy,Environment,Transport,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description National Infrastructure Commission - technologies for research investment - response to national consultation
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/news/nic-launch-technology-study-call-for-evidence
 
Description AGILE - Aggregators as diGital Intermediaries in Local Electricity markets
Amount £719,499 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S003088/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2018 
End 05/2020
 
Description Centre for Complex Policy Evaluation
Amount £256,000 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2016 
End 02/2019
 
Description Cryohub - LCE9-2015: Large scale energy storage
Amount € 126,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 691761 
Organisation European Commission 
Department Horizon 2020
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 04/2016 
End 09/2020
 
Description ENCORE engineering resilience network
Amount £107,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/N010019/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2015 
End 01/2019
 
Description EPSRC/Energy Systems Catapult Whole Energy Systems Scoping Studies
Amount £59,980 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R002339/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2017 
End 11/2017
 
Description ICIF - Business Model in Interdependent Infrastructure Systems
Amount £42,382 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K012347/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2013 
End 12/2016
 
Description KTS (Knowledge Transfer Secondment) (at Newcastle University)
Amount £25,000 (GBP)
Funding ID IAA: Transforming Utilities' Conversion Points EV 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start  
 
Description Reducing Industrial Energy Demand (REDIMS))
Amount £1,642,830 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P004636/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2016 
End 11/2019
 
Description Sustainable user innovation - EU Innovate
Amount £167,012 (GBP)
Funding ID FP7 - 613194 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2014 
End 12/2016
 
Description UKCRIC National Infrastructure Database, Modelling, Simulation and Visualisation Facilities
Amount £8,000,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R012202/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 03/2021
 
Description Water Energy Food Nexus Stepping Up
Amount £254,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/N00583X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2018
 
Title TUCP Energy hub model 
Description This model developed the idea of a conversion point into a generalised energy model including processes like energy conversion and storage, and further energy carriers, such as gas, heat, etc., besides the traditional electrical one to provide multidimensional flows. This model was developed with University of Basque Country, Vittoria, Spain. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Publication of article in Energy Conversion Management 
URL https://addi.ehu.es/bitstream/10810/12199/1/Gonz%C3%A1lez%20de%20Durana,%20J_Agent%20based%20modelin...
 
Title TUCP Household water and energy technologies and their effects upon infrastructure system outcomes 
Description An agent based model of the UK was developed to test the effects of the adoption of household technologies upon infrastructure system level effects. An associated database was built and was statistically representative of the UK. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Two academic papers, one still in draft, and one submitted have been written Project partners in other universities have used the results of the modelling to verify electric vehicle uptake 
 
Title TUCP base-line model - demand driven, Yorkshire based model 
Description The base-line model was a proof of concept of a pull-system, demand driven model for a synthetic population using natural gas for heating and power. The statistical matching was to Yorkshire for which a variety of existing data sets (.shp files) were collected and visualized using ESRI. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact It verified a concept of a conversion point and enabled two other models to be developed 
 
Title EU-Innovate model 
Description simulation of domestic level consumption of energy, mobility, domestic property and food 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2016 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Interest from European Commission Interest from city council UK 
URL http://52.202.219.239:8080/
 
Description Black Sky key note (London) 
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 Liz Varga was key note speaker at Black Sky Infrastructure Risk and Resilience Workshop held at the Royal Society, London.
The impact is working toward a shared international understanding of black sky situations, invitation to visit USA Princeton University and also follow up with House of Lords peer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.ukcric.com/events/private/black-sky-infrastructure-and-societal-resilience-workshop/
 
Description Decision-Making Under Risk & Uncertainty in Complex Infrastructure Systems (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was an invited speaker at Decision-Making Under Risk & Uncertainty Workshop - Grantham Institute - Imperial
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.imperial.ac.uk/grantham/education/science-and-solutions-for-a-changing-planet-dtp/previo...
 
Description Liz Varga Invited Speaker MK Gallery/Fred Roche Foundation Future City Talks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Two further speaking events have been held: one at the Open University, and one at Cranfield University.

A relationship has developed with Fred Roche Foundation and we are now bidding for the TSB SBRI call on integrated future cities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.mkgallery.org/events/2014_07_03/talks_growth_change_governance/
 
Description Liz Varga invited key note speaker at UKERC meeting place event Energy and Complexity 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact I introduced the subject of complexity and energy which was followed up by specific project talks, and break-out workgroups.

Following my talk, I became a collaborator on a Mathematics for Complex Systems to the Isaac Newton Institute.
I also co-authored a paper now published in Applied Energy on Energy and Complexity: New Ways Forward.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/support/0712_MP_Energy+and+Complexity
 
Description Transforming Utilities Conversion Points (TUCP) Kick Off Meeting October 2011 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Shared understanding of project aims and desired outcomes from industrial partners
Complexity and Agent-Based modelling was presented to attendees together with university proposals for a conversion point concept


Break out sessions produced actionable next steps in terms of project objectives and prioritization
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL https://www.cranfieldccedportal.com/tucp/pages/default.aspx
 
Description Transforming Utilities Conversion Points (TUCP) Stakeholder Workshop March 2012 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Progress update: Briefing Paper 1 Why conversion points; Briefing Paper 2: Utility Domains; Simple model presented; Yorkshire case study. The Break out sessions following these presentations, led to discussion and next steps.

Engagement of stakeholders
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL https://www.cranfieldccedportal.com/tucp/pages/default.aspx
 
Description Transforming Utilities' Conversion Points - TUCP Final Dissemination Workshop September 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Final Project Dissemination Presentation given at Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London on 3 September 2013.

Stakeholders informed of and engaged in project outcomes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL https://www.cranfieldccedportal.com/tucp/pages/default.aspx