Reliable and Efficient System for Community Energy Solution- RESCUES

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering


25 million rural Indian households do not have access to electricity and the rest of the rural households face 4-5 hours of daily load shedding. In the UK, 17.2% rural households are fuel poor and it takes 10 times longer to restore power supply in rural areas than in the cities. While in India it is the inadequacy of infrastructure, the UK scene is dominated by network operation and control issues.
Most of these remote regions have local power resources but mainly intermittent in nature. Running such system in isolation requires storage and thus pushing the overall cost up. On and off grid through hybrid AC/DC micro grid concept is very revolutionary in this context. However, the operation in such mode does not come unchallenged.
The technical issues are low inertia because of small synchronous generators and inverter based generation, unbalanced demand, asymmetric network, false tripping of DG during mode transition, excessive harmonic distortion because of power electronics driven customer loads, etc. The challenges represent a major test of the power engineering community. This is because, in order to solve them, experts from different specialities - distribution system operation and control, power electronic converter design and control, energy storage must come together and fuse different enabling technologies for making smart distribution grid truly functional.
This consortium, drawing in experts from each of these technical areas, proposes to undertake fundamental technical research to fuse these technologies to make a community grid a reality. The overarching aim of this proposal is to invent appropriate, cost effective, scalable, secure and reliable local energy system.
The innovations include cutting edge converter topology, control design, practical application of ground breaking voltage and frequency control, innovation in thermal storage in demand management and the output of DG intermittency and advanced system operation tools. Four prototype laboratory based systems will be designed tested and validated to reflect four different geographical and climate situations influencing the resource availability and consumption trends.
In the short to medium term this project will establish and strengthen the collaborations between the leading UK and Indian universities engaged in research in power electronics, renewable energy, power distribution operation and control and energy storage. This will promote mutual understanding of the challenge facing the power system practices in order to meet the growing energy demand through increasingly intermittent local energy resources in the years ahead. Strong collaboration between the scientists in two countries will allow rigorous evaluation of challenges, technology and approach to address the problem of reliably operating power distribution systems of both countries. This will lead to novel and scientific understanding validated on different contexts and systems, which could not be possibly achieved by either side working in isolation. The research outcome will be well publicized in journal and conferences.
While it is clear that the uptake of this research primarily benefit the community living in the remote region, the other inevitable impact is employment opportunity for local people, business opportunity for various companies such as EoN, GE Energy, Siemens, ALSTOM GRID, ABB in the UK and in India, to name a few. In a time when there is a universal crisis for power engineers, the project will deliver trained researchers with broader expertise of working in this multinational collaborative project. Many of the investigators on both the UK and Indian side already enjoy healthy collaborative working relationships with industrial and utility partners primarily within their own countries. This programme will clearly move the research frontier and will drive technology development through such true multinational research collaboration.

Planned Impact

In 2011, the UK Government accepted the need for more than £110 billion by 2020 to build and reinforce its electricity generation and grid infrastructure. Security of supply, decarbonisation of electricity, an anticipated doubling of demand by 2050 and rapidly rising energy costs are the driver. A great majority of this will be in the distribution segment. The investment of such scale has not been witnessed in the UK in the last 30 years. While, in India the planned scale of investment is £64 billion in the next five year alone. In the UK, India and many other countries worldwide active control of distribution system is getting the primary importance. While it is clear that distribution network operators such as UK Power Networks, various state distribution companies are intended to be amongst the major beneficiaries of this research, it is anticipated that the research would also be of interest to organisations such as GE Energy, E-ON, Siemens, ALSTOM GRID, ABB in the UK and in India, to name a few. Many of the investigators on both the UK and Indian side already enjoy healthy collaborative working relationships with industrial and utility partners primarily within their own countries and this programme will clearly deliver greater bilateral exchange. The major innovation in this research lies in efficient device and module arrangement, laying-out and system integration and overall device to system level efficiency improvement. The research deliverables will have impact on the technology development, supply chain and the ancillary industry sector, global research community, and most importantly on business models and smart-energy households developments.
The overall impacts of RESCUES technology on the India/UK lie in three areas, (i) technology development: growing opportunities for the manufacturing of smart-grid and energy storage technologies to avoid power cut to communities (ii) accelerated decarbonisation of UK/Indian and global power generation and (iii) offering a significant contribution for the power industries, and employment creation after several years of struggling economic recovery. This project will have direct impact on society and policy makers through knowledge exchange exercise, participating national roadmaps, and organising public events such as participating Open days, school outreach programmes, IET professional network events, through on-going UK-India research collaboration in Solar and BURD programme and through open access RESCUES website. The Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) will be established to ensure the commercial impacts of this project to be realised, which will have significant economic and employment impact.
The consortium will train about 25 researchers (UK PhD student funded by University of Exeter) to help meet the growing need for trained scientists in energy systems and renewable energy. In addition, people will be trained through excellent research promotion programmes and networks available both at Imperial College London, IIT Kharagpur. Several researchers in the consortium have on-going joint international research activities such as STAPP (Pal/Chakraborty), UKIERI and BioCPV (Mallick/Reddy) with India and LEAP (Mallick) with China. Those channels will be exploited to disseminate the research expertise gathered in the project and it will help UK researcher to establish strong international development.


10 25 50
Description The project has started in February 2014. We are undertaking underpinning research for developing an active renewable energy supply system for remote community. Three partners in the UK sides have roles in developing software for managing energy system, power conversion kit and their control for both AC and DC grid network for supplying to the customer at customer voltage level. The objective is to minimise the losses in the system, making the system more reliable against any external disturbances.

In this project an optimization framework is developed for operating and controlling Hybrid Microgrid. Several joint publications between UK and India have been achieved. Patents are filed . Follow on activity through a joint UK India research centre on solar energy is taking up the research to wider stake holding community

The research on state estimation in distribution context has set the foundation for checking cyber security.
Exploitation Route The hybrid AC-DC Micro grid lab that is developed with Indian partner is useful for further testing ideas of network control
We like to have further collaborative work with the researcher who was trained in this project who has now moved to an energy research centre in Ireland .Our optimal sizing of hybrid AC-DC system has been useful to develop prototype microgrid in Indian partner's site.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy

Description 1. Three researchers from this grant have got positions in academia and research, making impact in the sector. Part of the research outcome (thermal storage model) are being prototype tested in laboratory. Pilot demonstration in India has happened in partner university . 2. The technology of microgrid control has been deployed in a local complex near IIT Khargpur for reliable supply of energy. 3. There have been industrial pilot project at IIT Kharagpur in trialling some of the power converter control.
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Energy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

Description Provided training to engineers from TNB Malaysia
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The engineers have advanced themselves through further knowledge of the field
Description Training to Engineers from Power Industry in Chile
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The engineers from grid operator in Chile have now much advanced knowledge about power system and wind energy modelling
Description Embedded systems for Integrated Photovoltaics in Rural Buildings: E-IPB I
Amount £800,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 71208-481703 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2017 
End 03/2019
Description Joint UK India Virtual Clean Energy Centre
Amount £5,000,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P003605/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2020
Description Network Innovation allowance
Amount £70,000 (GBP)
Organisation UK Power Networks 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 03/2018
Description RE-EMPOWERED - Renewable Energy EMPOWERing European and InDian communities
Amount € 2,987,287 (EUR)
Funding ID 101018420 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 06/2021 
End 12/2024
Description Collaboration with IIT Kharagpur in Renewable Energy Integration 
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have developed model of solar PV system that has been used by the researchers in the consortium.
Collaborator Contribution The collaborator developed method of power converter switching which tackled the challenges of interfacing PV inverter.
Impact Joint research publications resulted from this collaboration. Staff exchanges have taken place bilaterally.
Start Year 2009
Description Visit to IIT Delhi India 
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Worked on the Second order generalised control technique for smooth interfacing of the PV panels with the grid. The simulation of the proposed technique carried out and information shared with the partner.
Collaborator Contribution The hardware in the loop test was done in the lab at IIT Delhi electrical department with the partner (Dr Nishant) providing inputs based on his expertise.
Impact a joint publication in IEEE Transactions as follows: F. U. Nazir, N. Kumar, B. C. Pal, B. Singh and B. K. Panigrahi, "Enhanced SOGI Controller for Weak Grid Integrated Solar PV System," in IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 1208-1217, Sept. 2020, doi: 10.1109/TEC.2020.2990866.
Start Year 2019
Description Visit to Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT) 
Organisation Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology
Department Department of Electrical Engineering
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provide knowledge and experience in impedance based system modelling, simulation and stability assessment, and autonomous control design based on adaptive DC voltage hierarchy for DC microgrid system. One of the PDRA in Strathclyde, Dr Dong Chen was seconded to NIT in May 2015 for one week for enhancing research collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution Provide knowledge and experience in novel power electronics converters prototyping for renewable applications, and provide opportunities for practical development, experimental validation and on-site implementation.
Impact not yet.
Start Year 2015
Title Brushless induction excited synchronous generator 
Description It is a synchronous generator with a new excitation method. The excitation machine (a three phase induction machine) is embedded inside the same machine frame. 
IP Reference Indian patent (Reference No: 201631039892) 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2017
Licensed No
Impact It is developed in laboratory and can be used for fixed/variable speed applications like wind energy, gensets, etc.
Title Synchronous Machine with Embedded Brushless Synchronous Exciter 
Description It is a synchronous generator with a new excitation method. The excitation machine (an inverted synchronous machine) is embedded inside the same machine frame. 
IP Reference Indian patent. (Reference No: 201731033722) 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2017
Licensed No
Impact The prototype is developed in laboratory and can be used for various applications line wind energy conversions, gen-sets, etc.
Company Name Build Solar Limited 
Description Company Profile: Build Solar are a recent spin-out from the University of Exeter (June 2017), following five years of solar concentrator research led by Dr. Hasan Baig and Prof. Tapas Mallick. The company seeks to develop and commercialize innovative construction materials by embedding advanced photovoltaic technology into them. These construction materials also classed as Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) replace an element of the building skin/ facade and easily integrate within the built environment. Build Solar's first patent pending product "Solar Squared" transforms the widely used Glass Blocks into a multifunctional product that provides electricity, daylighting and improved thermal insulation. Typical Glass Blocks are used on the exterior walls of a building to provide daylighting and privacy to the indoor environment. However, the void inside these glass blocks leads to thermal losses and hence higher U-Values. Solar Squared incorporates a plurality of glass projections inside this hollow space serving to disrupt convection currents forming in the void and cutting down thermal losses leading to lower U-values. Further, the shape of these projections allows for concentration of incoming solar radiation. Connecting small sized solar cells along these projections simultaneously generates more electricity per unit solar cell area and provides privacy to the indoor environments. The front face of these projections can also be varied to incorporate better aesthetics within the product. Aimed at the commercial and public construction sectors our current product Solar Squared provides all the standard benefits of using glass blocks for building exteriors such as daylighting, protection, and structure but also generates electricity in the form of solar energy and offers enhanced thermal insulation. Predicted that the BIPV Market will grow from about $3 billion in 2015 to over $9 billion in 2019, and surge to $26 billion by 2022. We want to be a part of this exciting market opportunity and aim to capture at least 5 % of this market in the coming five years through our innovative solutions. Having solar energy collection integrated into the building envelope as part of the design replaces conventional building envelope materials with a smart and multifunctional technology that not only serves it original purpose but also has a financial payback through electricity generation and energy savings. The incorporation of the PV technology within the building structure prevents PV system theft which is increasingly problematic in both developed and developing countries. Onsite energy generation (OSG) will reduce energy losses associated with transmitting power from a far and reduce dependency on grid infrastructure. Coupled with the increasing availability of building scale battery storage technology, our technology has the potential to be an important part of the emerging distributed OSG clean energy system. As an organization we have applied a lean manufacturing strategy for the development of our product. We have tied up with existing glass block manufacturer to produce our innovative glass block henceforth avoiding any further emissions and environmental impacts by deploying a completely new production setup. We have also tied up with existing solar cell manufacturers to produce our unique solar cell technology. This way we have avoided almost 70% of carbon emissions that would happen if we were to completely manufacture our entire product. While the product has been in technological development for last one year, the commercial business is relatively young and still essentially a start-up so has no financials. Build Solar aims to develop several construction materials that integrate solar technology, partly mitigating the negative environmental effects of rising building energy consumption. Further, the company aims to develop a network of international partnerships construction companies that sell, distribute, and install construction materials. Personnel: Dr. Hasan Baig (Founder & CEO-Build Solar) leads new product and new market activities. He obtained his PhD (2015) in Renewable Energy from the University of Exeter, UK. For his research Hasan won the Impact Award in the Sustainable Futures category at the university of Exeter in 2013. Over the years Hasan has worked extensively on design and manufacture of several Building Integrated Solar Concentrator technologies. He presented the company profile at the Cleantech Innovate UK and the BRE BIPV stakeholders workshop this year. Hasan is managing the overall operations and networking with many stakeholders towards building the company's future directions. Prof. Tapas Mallick, Scientific Advisor and Chairman for the company is a World leader in BIPV technology. He is currently the Chair in Clean Technologies, Environment & Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, UK. He has brought in grant funding of more than 350,000 GBP in the research for Building Integrated solar technologies at the University of Exeter. Tapas is communicating the company profile through his own scientific networks and seeking opportunities to collaborate on a scientific scale through any potential grant funding opportunities. Jim Williams is a Non-Executive Director and commercialization manager at Build Solar. He has a background in product development, manufacturing, and retail of consumer outdoor goods. He is continuously in touch with the glass block industry partners and investors to bring in more interest towards the company. The company has developed strong links with national level business such as HS2 and Network Rail towards large scale deployment of the technology. The company has also successfully completed Innovate UK SBRI funding towards feasibility of the technology. The company is in discussion with external bodies for business plan development. 
Year Established 2017 
Impact 60% of global carbon emissions are caused by buildings. Our vision is to challenge this adversity through the concept of Net Zero Energy buildings, meaning the total amount of energy used on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. BUILD SOLAR aims to commercialize innovative photovoltaic solutions by combining them with traditional construction materials and transforming buildings from energy consumers to power generators. Through a series of its products, the company is poised to become a major key player in the building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) industry. The BIPV market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 16% between 2016 and 2024 and the global market is currently valued at $7 billion. To catch up with this growing industry and gather further momentum BUILD SOLAR is currently faced with several obstacles including lack of education about these technologies among architects, standard product specifications, building regulatory, manufacturing costs and lack of well-trained installers. Aimed at the commercial and public sectors, our first product Solar Squared provides standard benefits such as daylighting, protection, and structure alongside electricity generation and better thermal insulation. The company has established a route to market within the UK market through Glass Block Technology Limited, one of the major glass block sellers, distributors, and installers in Europe. The company will build a network of partnerships with similar glass block companies to access international markets in the future. We have already patented our technology through the following UK patent "Construction Block with Photovoltaic Device, PATENT APPLICATION NUMBER 1705840.5". Our technical impact has been very strong on the glass block industry wherein we have completely transformed a standard construction material into an innovative energy solution. Prototyping of our first product Solar Squared is in progress and we hope to complete it by August this year. Further new designs of the product are being developed for the next round of prototyping. Socially we have presented our product to the public, researchers and school children visiting the Environment & Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter. We have also participated in the stakeholder workshop on BIPV technologies organized by BRE. Through this workshop we have introduced our product to existing BIPV manufacturers and gathered their feedback, understand the wider challenges BIPV industry faces and unlock routes for future developments. The Solar Squared unit will improve the performance of a widely used building material (glass block). The function of architectural glass blocks is to allow daylighting, and lower artificial lighting loads. Thus, Build Solar have reduced the active cell area of the PV, while still pulling back efficiency and yield by concentrating incoming light. The power density at standard tests conditions is analogous to approx. 25 Wp/m2. This compares well with amorphous silicon and organic photovoltaics which also have a similar power density. With the addition of the concentrators and solar cells in the block, internal convective air currents are reduced which in turn improves the thermal insulation performance of the block versus the standard hollow version. The traditional glass block has a U-Value =2.8 W/m2 K. Solar Squared Glass Block aims to reduce this by up to 50 %. The improvement of U-Value to 1.4 W/m2 K will result in thermal energy savings of 0.51 kWh/annum/block. This equates to Year 1 savings of 69,700 kWh, the equivalent of 6 houses' energy demand. By year 4 this is 4,056,114 kWh or 347 houses (based on U-Value improvement from 2.8 to 1.4 W/m2 K, Year 1-unit sales of 136,400 units, year 5 unit sales of 7,937,600 units and an average UK household energy usage of 11,700 kWH p.a.). The CO2e savings equate to 24t CO2e saved in Year 1 rising to 1,425t CO2e by Year 4 (based on UK grid CO2e grid electricity of 0.35156kg CO2e/kWH, BEIS Carbon Factors 2017). The price per tonne of carbon saved equates to ?73k in Year 1 falling to just ?11k per tonne by Year 4. Assuming full market adoption to 114m glass blocks this results in carbon savings of over 20,000t per annum. The concentration concept is not new and has been proven in other concentrating solar technologies. In the case of Solar Squared, the team at Exeter have chosen a relatively low power concentrator which magnifies by a factor 3 - 6. This allows the concentrating lens to have a wide angle of acceptance (ca. half acceptance angle 35°), meaning that contrary to typical high concentration application which need dual axis tracking, a vertically installed south facing Solar Squared array should be able to receive light for at least 7 hours a day. The Energy Payback Time of the system can be as low as 3yrs which is comparable to current rooftop PV technologies, something that current BIPV struggle to deliver. The Energy Return On Investment of Solar Squared is targeted to be less than 5 years with an estimated equivalent carbon footprint of 20g CO2e/kWh energy generated. Based on the BEIS toolkit for valuation of energy use the Year 4 energy savings have an NPV of?619,280 and an annualized NPV. BUILD SOLAR is a recent startup and an outcome of more than five years of Solar PV research at the University of Exeter. Since its launch at the Cleantech Innovate UK in April this year it has managed to raise a lot of interest from several construction companies and media. Some of the notable articles can be found below. Build Solar in the Press • Solar power glass bricks generate energy while letting in light, Reuteurs, November 28th, 2017 • Watts new in glass blocks, Royal Institute of British Architects September 8th2017 • Researchers develop solar glass blocks to power houses, PV Magazine August 24th2017 • Could This Glass Brick Be the Solution to Solar Energy's Design Problems?, Architectural Digest August 23rd2017 • Revolutionary glass building blocks generate their own solar energy, Inhabitat August17th2017 • University of Exeter creates energy generating glass bricks, BIM+Chartered Institute of Building August 23rd2017 • Solar blocks could replace solar panels on buildings, TreeHugger, August17th2017 • These solar glass bricks let in light while generating energy, Curbed August 23rd2017 • Is This Solar Power Tech the Future of Glass Blocks?, Architect-Journal of American Architects, August17th2017 • How to Leverage Glass Block Construction to Achieve LEED Certification, Architizer August 31st2017 • These solar glass blocks would make great skylights for your solar roofs, Techcrunch August18th2017
Description Engagement with Nanjin Guodian Automation Co Ltd., China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Formal discussion with researches from Nanjin Guodian Automation Co Ltd. for collaborative work in AC and DC microgrid. Staffs from the provincial technology department also attended the discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description Environment and sustainability day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Over 100 students from all over cornwall, UK participated in the Environment and sustainability day at University of Exeter's Penryn campus, and we presented how solar cell works
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015
Description UK India Workshop on integrated renewable energy and hydrogen 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact We organised UK Indian workshop on integrated renewable energy and hydrogen generation where solar energy generation and utilisation and heat recovery through phase change material was discussed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016