Agent-based Modelling of Electricity Networks (AMEN)

Lead Research Organisation: De Montfort University
Department Name: Institute of Energy and Sustainable Dev


The project seeks to make a significant and original contribution to efforts being marshalled by the UK Research Councils - following government level advice - to improve the international profile and national strategic impact of energy modelling in the UK. It will provide valuable insights - both quantitative and qualitative - into questions of key importance fpr policymakers and the power sector as they seek to square the circle of emissions reduction and a viable, secure energy supply by 2050. It will address in the context of the electricity network, perceived general weaknesses in whole energy systems modelling - from the closely related standpoint of complex systems research - in the areas of end-use behaviour, technology dynamics, and energy in industry.
According to the Committee on Climate Change, to meet the Government's challenging emissions reduction goals would require almost complete decarbonisation of electricity generation by around 2030. It is highly likely therefore that electricity will become even more significant than its current 37% share of emissions implies, as moves towards the electrification of heat and transport accelerate. This has huge implications for the electricity infrastructure. Another fundamental assumption is that there will be a restructuring of the electricity market as signalled in the Government's recent Draft Energy Bill. These potentially game-changing developments will shape the project. The approach used will be based on De Montfort University's innovative agent-based electricity market modeling Framework known as CASCADE, which so far has been used mainly to explore the relationship between end-users and smart technology; the expected rapid infiltration of distributed generators at low and medium voltage levels; more active participation by demand entities; new communication protocols; and smart energy controllers. The Framework will be developed to improve and expand its models of large-scale generation, the transmission network, the wholesale electricity market and the ability to model technology adoption and diffusion on long time-scales, in order to address the interrelationships and complex effects of such possible developments as Locational Pricing; richer agency models for Distribution Network Operators; congestion management based on economic signals; a restructured Balancing Mechanism.
A key principle will be that the modelling methods, assumptions and and limitations will be made clear to stakeholders through accessible data description and highly focussed and structured dissemination activities.

Planned Impact

AMEN is necessarily expected to have impact on energy policy in the UK and hence on relevant government departments, in particular the DECC. The power sector would be indirect beneficiaries from the anticipated improvement in strategic modelling capacity and the policy decisions informed by it and could directly benefit from access to the proposed modelling Framework and specific insights arising from model deployment. The enhanced Framework will be the basis for enabling market participants and government to assess more readily a large number of factors affecting decision making concerning the power sector. Its ability to model at different scales will enable it to yield insights into such issues as access and charging barriers at the network level in relation to the development of new infrastructure and the spatial proximity of generation to demand; the increasing impact of sale of surplus electricity generated at customer sites to other parties using distribution networks.

Policy makers will benefit from the insights provided at a larger scale and be better able to formulate coherent strategies that are already predicated on notions of distributed energy and potential new business models. Energy suppliers will gain an improve perspective on a changing role if the emphasis shifts significantly towards the provision of energy services. The energy distribution sector will benefit from the platform that the project intends to provide, which will support business decision making against a background of more manageable risk and better developed enabling technologies. Role uncertainty will be diminished and policy making will be simplified and more cost-effective to implement The work is particularly valuable in that it relates to the interests of stakeholders at all levels, is consistent with UK government intentions in recent White Papers and looks beyond these to the internationally relevant and far-reaching consequences of possible chains of technological and behavioural evolution.
Description The approach developed in the previous project CASCADE has been further enhanced and tested to show that it is viable at long timesales fo many years and over spatial scales such as the size of a small city using relatively modest computational resources. The modelling framework was used to study the effectiveness of different government incentive schemes for renewable energy techology adoption on a broad scale. Comparisons were made specifically between the Feed in Tariff and the Renwable Heat Incentive and conclusions were drawn concerning the signifcance of non-financial factors in adoption giving insights into why such schemes might not deliver the intended outcomes.
Exploitation Route There is increasing interest in the potential of demand respnse in the domestic sector as an important component of efforts to balance the electricity grid while minimising capital intensive solutions involving large scale generators. The findings represent a very early step in what could be a transition towards
Sectors Energy

Title CASCADE Framework 
Description The AMEN project has continued to develop the CASCADE software in order to address a wider range of smart grid and distributed energy related issues, especially those with a direct bearing on energy policy mechanisms. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The framework has been used to develop a demand-side response concept currently being trialled by the CEGADS project (EPSRC/Innovate UK). This concept was also the basis for the Nesta Dynamic Demand Challenge 2014 prize winning entry.