Electricity Satnav - Electricity Smart Availability Topology of Network for Abundant electric Vehicles

Lead Research Organisation: Aston University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering and Applied Science


The infrastructure of our electricity transmission and distribution is undergoing a substantial transformation to facilitate the realisation of a low-carbon economy. One important aspect is that, in low-voltage distribution networks, growing numbers of micro/small-scale distributed energy resources such as wind turbines and solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are being installed and commissioned. There are also pressing demands for new approaches to intelligently control appliances as a consequence of demand-side management or electrified transportation e.g., electric vehicles (EVs).

Public EV charging points are being installed all over the UK. However, the resources are still very limited in terms of both the number installed and the perceived availability of charging amongst drivers. Meanwhile, distributed renewable sources generate fluctuating power which is not suited to expected patterns of EV charging. For instance, an EV owner may prefer to charge their car at night while the power generated from their rooftop PV panel only provides electricity during daytime. Energy storage is often viewed as the solution to this but it is difficult to justify its costs particularly in the context of domestic usage. Alternatively one can sell PV power to the grid and then purchase power when needed. For example, the feed-in-tariff encourages dispersed power being back-fed into the grid. These options can either cause waste of renewable resources (depending on the energy storage device on-site and efficiency), increase of physical stresses and losses (by increasing currents) in the distribution networks, and potentially be uneconomical for customers due to the price difference.

Speculatively if all houses/vehicles can be used as EV charging resources, apart from charging points owned by network companies, the power imbalance issue and the frustration of EV drivers struggling to find a working charging point could be resolved. This research will investigate the feasibility of such a system which will provide real-time electricity availability information to foster the development of a peer-to-peer decentralised electricity market between micro/small-scale distributed energy generators (e.g. households with PV systems) and EV owners. This opens up the possibility of using the mobility of EV as energy storage for end users and excess electricity generated by households as a source to service the energy demand of EV owners. The proposed system will provide an open price bidding environment based on real-time electricity availability information of surplus power from distributed resources. To realise this a background programme needs to be running in real-time to model low-voltage electricity distribution networks from the distribution network operators (DNO). In this project, detailed network modelling (in both space and time domains) will be generated via graphical auto-identification techniques based on the existing DNO geographic information systems (GIS) and network design manuals. The social feasibility will also be assessed through qualitative and quantitative work to assess potential acceptability and behavioural responses. This idea can provide more flexible EV charging/discharging practices by options of H2V (House-to-Vehicle), W2V (Wind-to-Vehicle), and V2V (Vehicle-to-Vehicle) scenarios. Such a system could lead to a more efficient and flexible way of utilising distributed renewable energy sources and improving EV charging practices. From the DNO's point of view, such a system would also make it easier to manage dispersed renewable generation, mitigate network stresses and reduce the need for network reinforcement.

Planned Impact

This project fits well with the government's plan for renewable energy growth/carbon emission reduction and the low carbon network operation initiative from Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets). In terms of economic benefits to the UK, the development of Smart Grid could lead to approximately £13bn of added gross value between now and 2050; export earnings of £5bn to 2050 if sufficient investment is made [1]. A Government report advocated "the use of power interconnection, energy storage, and demand flexibility", in order to create a greener and more flexible energy system, and includes a call for reduced regulation and a removal of barriers to innovation. Furthermore the proposed project opens up the possibility of using the mobility of electric vehicles in other areas, for example grid support and energy storage, for which the inspired expectations of a global market valued at $250bn or more by 2040 [2].

For the Industry, the resulting EV charging/discharging scheme and market will benefit in reducing reinforcement stresses to the UK distribution network operators, such as Electricity Northwest, Northern Ireland Electricity, Northern Powergrid, Scottish Power Energy Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy, Western Power Distribution, and UK Power Networks. It is estimated that by 2050, Smart Grid will reduce the cost of additional distribution reinforcement needed to accommodate the connection of low carbon technologies such as heat pumps, solar PV and electric vehicles by 20-30% between £2.5bn and £12bn [1]. Local EV manufacturers like Nissan, and BMW would benefit from the learning outcome of this project to better suit their products for future applications.

For individuals, the new open market (as proposed in this project) will enhance the flexibility, optimise renewable power utilisation and reduce the running costs of their low-carbon technologies, which eventually would lead to a reduction in commercial and domestic electricity bills. Potentiavings to consumers can be up to £8bn a year [3]. Moreover, by making the system more flexible it will be less prone to outages, which can be very expensive for sensitive customers. The research would also be beneficial to EV users by achieving a widespread well-visualised available electricity infrastructure with greener energy resources for convenient electrified transportation.

At a social and environmental level, this project is a key enabler towards the Smart Grid development, for which relevant jobs could be boosted by an average of 8,000 during the 2020s rising to 9,000 during the 2030s [1]. This will play a key role in current and future plans for the reduction of greenhouse emissions and improving the security of energy supply, not only in the UK, but internationally. For example, the maximum utilisation of distributed renewable energy with an abundance of either wind or solar can only happen with the development of an open market, which will be contingent on the type of technology proposed in this project. This would be a significant step towards bringing a secure, long-term, affordable supply of sustainable energy to the UK and wider afield. Other advantages include the removal of unsightly transmission lines from view as well as aiding the increase in the deployment of smart meters, which will improve the lives of those living in congested urban environments.

[1] Department of Energy & Climate Change, Smart Grid Vision and Routemap, Feb. 2014
[2] PV magazine - photovoltaic markets & technology, Jun. 2016
[3] Smart power: A National Infrastructure Commission report - GOV.UK, Nov. 2016
Description 1. Three-phase electric network and electric vehicle (EV) load modelling, and multi-area based power flow solution approach: A precise power distribution network (PDN) and EV load modelling can play a vital role in techno-economic planning of modern distribution networks to accommodate high penetration of EVs. Therefore, three-phase modelling of network components and EV chargers are performed and then a three-phase backward/forward based load flow algorithm is developed to investigate the planning and operations of active PDNs with high EV and renewable penetration. The method is developed and investigated in the Matlab environment.

2. To manage peer-to-peer (P2P) charging of EVs in different areas simultaneously, a multi-area based power flow approach is also developed. The approach has the ability to perform the power flow calculations of low voltage PDNs in different parts of the city, downstream to distribution transformers, e.g. 11kV/400V. The multi-area power flow calculation can help to determine the energy deficit and surplus areas or networks in considered geographical areas in a few computations. However, networks buses of different areas need to be renumbered before the load flow calculations.

3. Third-party investment planning framework in retail electricity markets: In order to increase the deployment of small-sized clean energy technologies (CETs) in PDNs, a competitive and flexible retail electricity market model is developed by exploiting third-party investments in community energy systems under a regulatory framework. A P2P retail energy trading framework is developed to proliferate the concept of urban and remote community microgrids. The concept is to utilise the energy produced locally, at the place of its generation within the community. In the proposed model, DERs which are owned by different stakeholders are participating in a P2P energy market by offering different tariff structures such as feed-in tariff (FITs), fixed price (FP), and time of use (ToU).

4. An optimisation framework for effective energy management in community systems: For efficient energy management in P2P retail electricity markets, an optimisation framework is developed along with an energy management system (EMS) scheme. The developed EMS system helps to minimise the daily energy consumption of community consumers by participating in a P2P energy market. Simultaneously, dispatchable DERs such as BESS and DG owners are allowed to maximise their daily profits by economic means, e.g. ToU.
Exploitation Route The methods and frameworks developed or improved so far may found to be useful in both industry and academia. The developed optimisation frameworks are expected to explore research opportunities in planning and operational management of community energy systems in PDNs with high penetration of renewables and EVs. The proposed concept of multi-area power flow calculation can quickly determine the deficit and surplus power networks, at the same time, in different areas of the city, which can help DNOs to schedule P2P EV charging accordingly.

Furthermore, the proposed third-party based investment planning of distributed energy systems proliferates prosumers in modern distribution systems which is in-line with some of the programmes of Ofgem, UK, e.g., third-party intermediaries (TPI). An effective P2P retail energy market model and EMS provide opportunities to consumers with better control on their energy bills by participating in local energy transactions between peers.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Transport

Description Innovate UK V2G competition
Amount £699,930 (GBP)
Funding ID 104222 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 02/2020
Description Street2Grid - An Electricity Blockchain Platform for P2P Energy Trading
Amount £569,980 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S001778/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2018 
End 06/2021
Title Electricity Satnav 
Description A MATLAB/Python-based toolbox is being developed to carry out general unbalanced low-voltage power distribution network modelling, and low flow analysis, with geographical location information and a mapping interface. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Once packed and published in the power/energy research community, this toolbox can be used by researchers in power systems analysis areas focusing on distributed energy resources. 
Description Electricity Satnav - Business models 
Organisation University of Southampton
Department Primary Care and Population Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My research team informed the collaborator at the University of Southampton about the future energy usage scenarios and energy market reform in areas of energy usage and prosumer market.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Vadim Grinevich, Faculty Director of Graduate School and his team contributed to the study of business models around point-to-point electric vehicle charging business models.
Impact Working paper entitled "Demand for charging facilities in electric vehicle market: A United Kingdom Experience"; This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, involving energy market, energy end-user business models, and smart grid areas.
Start Year 2017
Description Electricity Satnav - User-behavioural models 
Organisation University of Leeds
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My team contributed to the development of electric vehicle charging use case scenarios for user behavioural analysis for both EV owners and generation owners (prosumers).
Collaborator Contribution Prof. Jillian Anable (Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds) and her research team contributed to the review of the EV charging case studies and preliminary analysis of users' views on this.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary research involving socio-technical analysis of new technologies, and electrical engineering.
Start Year 2017
Description Research workshop with Energy Systems Catapult 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Energy Systems Catapult is a research and development organisation in the energy system areas, with their office based in Birmingham.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018