The systemic city: Infrastructure interdependency and complex value business models

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: School of Earth and Environment

Abstract

There is huge potential for the infrastructures of UK cities to be better configured to reduce the impacts of climate change. The infrastructures of the energy, telecoms, transport and water sectors are all delivered in isolation and by different mixes of companies and government agencies. For a long time this approach has delivered secure, dependable services such as reliable electric power, clean water,rapid advances in ICT connectivity and smarter transport networks. However, the challenge of climate change also means these critical infrastructures must be leveraged to enable low carbon development, and be resilient to climate change impacts such as increased overheating, more severe flooding and longer drought spells. Many of the providers of critical infrastructures have started to mitigate and adapt to climate change pressures and plan for more uncertain futures. However, much of this activity is limited to single sector approaches and does not seek synergies with infrastructure providers across systems and sectors. Infrastructure continues to be delivered in industry silos, even when it is physically interconnected.

This is a problem because there are exciting opportunities to fundamentally change the way infrastructure systems are organised in major cities by taking a more systemic approach; this means researching cross sectoral benefits that can only be realised by linking mitigation activity across systems. These opportunities not being captured in UK cities due to the fact they rely on complex values. Simply put complex values are missed opportunities to benefit cities, economies, and the environment that can only be captured by linking infrastructure provision across systems, i.e. transport and electricity, heat and green infrastructure. Historically this resource sharing has been very difficult, as each infrastructural sector in the UK has been operated in isolation.

This research uses two examples of the complex value problem for climate change mitigation in cities. The first is the systemic links between electric vehicles, cities and electricity networks. Here it would make sense for cities, EV infrastructure providers and electricity networks to share the costs of intercity charge infrastructure, especially if smart grid approaches are taken. Currently this is not possible because the investment priorities, system regulation and decision frameworks of electricity networks, EV infrastructure providers and cities do not match in space or time. Secondly the link between green infrastructure systems and urban heat networks will be explored. Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage could provide a source of 'negative carbon' heating for cities through urban heat networks. The complex values this would deliver span mitigation, adaptation and sustainable economy benefits; but rely on linking diverse decision makers across the urban built environment and the bio energy and green infrastructure sectors.

Using these case studies the research will then use methods from infrastructure systems research, as socio-technical approaches and decision science, to look into the consequences of adopting these 'systemic' approaches to urban infrastructure on: resource management, infrastructure resilience, GHG mitigation and urban economic performance. This research will work with decision makers across these systems to identify new strategies for 'whole systems' management of urban infrastructures. Complex value identification and decision science methods will be used to generate solutions for these problems.

The outcome of this research will be a new understanding of how cities can reconfigure infrastructure networks for climate compatible development and local economic resilience.

Planned Impact

To meet the LWEC challenge this fellowship must produce impact beyond the academic community, and enable change in the ways critical infrastructures are configured. This means developing new decision processes and business models that result in much faster adoption of sustainable and resilient infrastructures in cities.

There is a particularly strong impact focus in this fellowship. The attached case for support demonstrates the great care the applicant takes to build lasting and productive networks across academia and the stakeholder community, and the impacts this has had at a national and international scale. This approach will be replicated and enhanced in this research by building networks across sector regulators, city governments, government departments, and related research groups from the EPSRC landscape.

This research has significant potential to benefit the structures of decision making at the city regional level. The devolution of responsibility for urban infrastructures in the UK was started under the Localism Act and has seen the devolution of hundreds of millions of pounds of infrastructure spending to city regions and the establishment of new combined authorities. The Core Cities group (a group of the 10 largest cities outside London) has ambitions to take a greater stake in electricity infrastructures, transport networks, heat infrastructures, telecoms systems, flood prevention and green infrastructure provision. This group and affiliated cities would benefit greatly from the development of decision support processes for infrastructure spending which take account of complex values, resource implications, and climate change resilience.

This research also has significant potential to impact the ways in which private infrastructure providers engage with city regions. Currently engagement with electricity, water and telecoms providers by cities is ad-hoc or bespoke to particular problems. This research will bring these providers together with city managers to identify new ways of working to maximise the mitigation potential of infrastructure systems and speed up the adoption of myriad engineering solutions and technological innovations currently developed but unable to be deployed.
This research will also be closely linked to national systems regulators and policy departments. The announcement of the National Infrastructure Commission provides a clear pathway to impact for new infrastructure valuation methods and decision structures. This fellowship will be directly relevant to this body. The applicant has already shown their ability to engage closely with energy system regulators and policy makers. This will be replicated across the national policy space. The output of this engagement will be in the form of policy briefs, workshops and consultation responses to demonstrate where policy, regulation and/or infrastructure business models can change to enable better use of engineering innovations. Each of these communities, the city level, infrastructure providers, the national policy community and system regulators will be pro-actively engaged in the [co] production of this research.

Ultimately the impact of this fellowship should be to change the ways in which stakeholders configure urban infrastructure systems and seek ways to re-engineer the physical attributes of these systems to be more resilient, sustainable, and economically viable; i.e. the key challenges in this Living With Environmental Change Call.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This research has discovered and analysed new business models for linking up electric vehicles with urban energy systems. Electric vehicles can damage power grids if users do not manage their charging behaviour. At the same time electric vehicles can also strengthen power grids, and provide storage for intermittent renewable energy. By changing the way energy customers are billed, and the business models for public and home charging, new smart meter data can be used to make electric vehicles a grid asset as opposed to a liability. This work is a new discovery because most previous work has focussed either on making the vehicle to grid and vehicle to home technology work, or looking at business models for individual parts of the charging system. This work takes a whole system approach and specifically investigates how electric vehicles can interact with the wider electricity market and the physical system that supports it. This work has estimated the financial value of UK low-carbon energy futures. It shows that up to £21bn of new value is available by making the transition to a low carbon future and that new business models like those identified above are desperately needed to capture this value.
Exploitation Route These findings allow utility companies, auto manufacturers and city governments to find new partnerships and commercial relationships that link electric vehicle charging to urban energy systems. This can reduce local pollutants by reducing tailpipe and local point source power emissions. Global pollutants, predominantly greenhouse gasses can be reduced by using cleaner electricity in the vehicles charge cycle. The sector regulator can use this work to assess the suitability of each new business model proposed and its integration with the current electricity market regulation system. Civil society organisations can use the evidence in this work to lobby for changes to energy market regulation which will better serve the outcomes of decarbonisation and air quality improvements. The findings of the valuation work stream can be used by energy policy makers and utilities to support decisions on innovation plicy and risk management of utility business model transition.
Sectors Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

URL http://www.see.leeds.ac.uk/people/s.hall
 
Description Tentatively, the National Energy Systems Catapult is set to use the findings of this fellowship to intellectually underpin a suite of its future work. However this is a tentative but potentially large impact. It will be clear whether this has materialised in future submissions.
First Year Of Impact 2019
 
Description H2020-LCE-2016-2017; Competitive Low-Carbon Economy
Amount € 3,008,575 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission H2020 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 03/2018 
End 03/2021
 
Description Innovation in vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems: real-world demonstrators
Amount £774,028 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 04/2021
 
Title UK Energy futures Value Pool Model 
Description Excel based energy system valuation model which estimates the total financial values associated with low carbon energy futures in the UK. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Too early to say 
URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261917312333#s0110
 
Description Energy Systems Catapult, Utility 2050 
Organisation Energy Systems Catapult Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Developed valuation model of UK energy futures, Undertook consumer survey of preferences in smart energy markets, ran 4 x decision theatres and developing final report and investor facing event.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of a platform for launch of research output. Cash resource for project lead. Operational expenses for Utility 2050 project in which the output from the Systemic City fellowship has found a mutually beneficial home.
Impact Collaboration outcomes in production.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Foreign Office, UKTI 
Organisation Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution My research team and I ran two International Decision theatres with electric utility executives, policy makers, investors and regulators in Europe and the USA. This involved two day long workshops on the outputs of my fellowship results. These were additional partnerships secured post award on the strength of the early results of the fellowship.
Collaborator Contribution The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office sponsored me and my research team to fly to Berlin and Chicago in November 2017 and January 2018 respectively, provided accommodation, and expenses, secured attendees, and provided the venues.
Impact The outcomes of this partnership are still emerging.
Start Year 2017
 
Description SSE, UKPN, BYD, Bus 2 Grid business model innovation collaboration 
Organisation Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution In this partnership my research team and I will be exploring the business model innovation process for a real world vehicle to grid project. This will involve exploring the commercial, regulatory and practical viability of vehicle to grid technology in a dense urban setting.
Collaborator Contribution The project partners span the transport electrification value chain, from a large utility, to a distribution network operator, bus operator and bus manufacturer. This will include the development of novel technologies for heavy fleet vehicle to grid services.
Impact Partnership is new. Outcomes to follow
Start Year 2018
 
Description International webinar on business model innovation for electric vehicle futures 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Innovation Interface: Business Model Innovation for Electric Vehicle Futures 30-40 attendees, high level executives from electric utilities, grid companies and auto manufacturers from around the world.
Date & Time: Thursday, November 16, 11:00 EST (GMT-0:500) |

Speakers: Dr. Stephen Hall, Academic Fellow, University of Leeds, Dr. Lawrence Jones, Vice President, International Programs, Edison Electric Institute (moderator)

Description: There is huge potential for electric vehicles across the world. Over one million new plug in vehicles are projected to hit the roads in 2017. The engineering challenge this poses for electricity systems are well documented, but there is much less work on the business model challenge. How do we find new business models that maximise air quality benefits, protect the grid, and give consumers a fair deal? The Innovation Interface report produced by the University of Leeds, tackles these questions head on. Researchers explored how city governments, car companies, and utilities can work together to solve problems of infrastructure stress, respond to the changing mobility preferences of citizens, and charge vehicles with the greenest power possible. In this webinar the report's lead author, Dr Stephen Hall will share the results of this work, the new business models generated, the barriers still to be overcome, and the system challenges the research presents.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.eei.org/about/meetings/meeting.aspx?EEIEventId=1E4A8943-9B76-42B5-89F2-368E48105D9E
 
Description National Newspaper Article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact National Press article on the valuation of UK low carbon energy futures. This led to an invitation by Energy UK to partner on future work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/britain-s-switch-to-low-carbon-energy-could-give-a-21-billi...
 
Description National Newspaper Article Telegraph 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Telegraph article on responsible vehicle charging
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/comment/electric-cars-britains-battery-responsible-charging-key-ren...
 
Description Podcast for national magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Comment on the UK Goverments 2040 diesel ban to a generalist audience on the availability of materials, impact on urban air quality, ability of the grid to cope with vehicle electrification.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.sciencefocus.com/article/how-petrol-ban-will-work-and-making-psychosis-hellblade-believab...
 
Description Report Launch Smart Energy GB 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The Launch of the 'Smart Route to Electric Vehicles' report took place in Dundee in 2018 and was accompanied by a Nation Campaign with Smart Energy GB. The report received a ministerial foreword by the Rt Hon Claire Perry MP, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth. It was covered by several trade and national press, national radio and underpinned the messaging for a you tube campaign.
https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3033070/could-smart-meters-speed-up-the-uks-electric-vehicle-roll-out
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLv-vhuCkVOm6dveYafJUa5yQSzSxCW6tW
 
Description Smart Energy GB Smart Cities media campaign. 
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 A national campaign by Smart Energy GB on the value of Smart Metering rollout. Appeared in several national newspapers and established me as a voice in the field.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/smart-technology-future-energy-britain-13755761