New Methods and Data for Energy Research (NEMDER)

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: School of Water, Energy and Environment

Abstract

Energy system modelling has been driven, at best, annual data series at national or regional level. The roll-out of smart meters along with the increasing availability of new forms of user data from crowdsourced platforms such as social media, mobile phones and apps offers an immense opportunity to improve our understanding of consumer's energy behaviours and preferences and UK's changing energy mix in near real-time at a low geographical resolution. Combining this data with that collected from other non-energy domains and the use of techniques like machine learning and hierarchical analytic methods means that future energy system research can recognise tripping points, emerging patterns, interdependencies and end-user behaviours in near real time. Beyond creating a world leading, state-of-the-art research programme, generating such insights is important both for industry and policy. On the former, understanding consumer demand patterns and development of generation mix in near real time would enable a more effective operation of the network in a future energy system supplied by intermittent renewable resources. Yet, the trajectory of this low carbon transition is highly uncertain as characterised by a large number of future energy system scenarios. Moreover, combining and linking data from multiple sources can support the development of new services, firms and business models. These new approaches can also contribute to develop a more nuanced policy approach to respond to consumer behaviours whilst utilising differences across the energy system in terms of diversity of actors, socio-economic, geographic and network characteristics, demand patterns and interdependencies of energy sector with other sectors such as transport. Otherwise the risks would be widening of existing socio-economic differences and tripping points leading to major bottlenecks on the networks and exacerbating social inequalities.

Planned Impact

This proposal aims to inform the development of energy system transition analysis tools and techniques to incorporate new methods and forms of data with a view to improve our understanding of the tripping points, emerging patterns, interdependencies and end-user behaviours in real or near real time to support innovative policy making.
Therefore it will be of benefit to several user groups:
Energy companies: the results will enable them to gain a better understanding of near real time power flows spatio-temporally. Network companies in particular, from low to medium to high voltage, will benefit in terms of grid operation, stability, control, and congestion management. Other potential industrial beneficiaries include providers of new services and technologies who will be able to use the project outcomes to more accurately define innovation strategies, allocate resources and predict the impact of choices.
Policy Community: such as the UK Government and other organisations associated with the policy process (e.g. Ofgem, Energy Saving Trust, Carbon Trust). The results of this project will enable them to develop a more nuanced policy approach to respond to consumer behaviours whilst utilising differences across the energy system in terms of diversity of actors, socio-economic, geographic and network characteristics, demand patterns and interdependencies of energy sector with other sectors such as transport.
Public Citizens: The results will benefit the general public through more efficient operation of the networks enabled by near real time visibility of energy system evolution spatio-temporally. It could also of increase awareness of personal energy consumption, how it varies across different domains (using more energy for transport but less for heating) as well as wider energy issues amongst consumers, including the opportunity to take a more active role in managing personal consumption if desired.
Academic Community: The project will bring together a diverse group of researchers including energy system modellers, policy analysts, computer and social scientists and power system engineers in an interdisciplinary setting and the results will be of interest to each of these disciplines. Therefore the project will contribute to the development of energy system transition analysis tools and techniques to incorporate new methods and forms of data with a view to improve our understanding of the tripping points, emerging patterns, interdependencies and end-user behaviours in real or near real time to support innovative policy making. It will advance research in a number of disciplines and fields (e.g. Science & Technology Studies, energy policy, scenario development and modelling). Strong links with core and UKERC Research Fund programmes as well as other RCUK energy programmes (such as TEDDI) will ensure that these contributions are fully utilized and cross-fertilized across various disciplines.
To ensure these groups benefit we plan several impact activities including workshops, reports, academic publications and other engagement activities outlined in the pathways to impact document.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The most significant achievements from the award are four fold: i) our feasibility study (by collating data from exterts via interviews, two workshops with participation from a range of actors from the energy industry including DNOs, system operator, technology developers, small SMEs, policy and regulation, as well as review of the literature) has confirmed the prospects for the use of computational methods to predict demand for electricity. ii) We have identified different degrees of reliability and robustness across different sources of new data (such as social media). iii) Our analysis identified three factors that can influence the effectiveness and types of methods/ datasets that might be needed: broader technical system characteristics, engagement of end users, and smartness of appliances. iv) We have also identified the scope to use digital tools (e.g. apps, text messages, a closed group membership in a village, social media) to instigate flexibility in the system as an area of novel research.
We have met all the objective of the research project by engaging with a range of actors, creating dialogues across different disciplines (computer science, power system engineering, social sciences) and confirming the need for the use of new computational methods to meet the changing needs of UK future energy landscape.
We have submitted a follow-on project in response to EPSRC/Energy Systems Catapult Whole Energy Systems Follow on Funding call.
Exploitation Route Our academic publications and workshop reports will enable both industry and academia to explore the scope of using new computational methods to meet the needs of changing UK energy landscape.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy

 
Description With our engagement with National Grid and a number of DNOs (including UKPN and Northern Powergrid), there is a growing interest for the use of AI techniques and big data to inform energy research. We are working on an Impact Acceleration Award to analyse the scope of AI to predict individual loads from aggregate datasets.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Energy
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description ETIP SNET - ENERGY SECTOR INTERFACES
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description Member of Ofgem RIIO2 Challenging Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description Open Networks Advisory Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Value of baseload capacity in low-carbon GB electricity system
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact The main objective of this study was to assess the need for baseload low-carbon technologies in the decarbonised UK power system over the coming decades. It therefore adopts the concept of marginal value of baseload capacity and quantifies how this value varies across a range of scenarios with different carbon constraints, system flexibility levels and other parameters. In a system with low flexibility level significant amount of CCS capacity will be required to meet the carbon emission target.
 
Description EPSRC Building a Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing Community Workshop, 14-15 March, Cardiff
Amount £500 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 03/2018
 
Description EPSRC/Energy Systems Catapult Whole Energy Systems Follow on Funding
Amount £621,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S00307X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2018 
End 07/2020
 
Description Local Energy Market
Amount £350,400 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission 
Department European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 04/2018 
End 12/2020
 
Description MERLON
Amount € 4,000,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 824386 
Organisation European Commission H2020 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2022
 
Title Whole electricity system model 
Description This model takes into account spatial and temporal characteristics of the energy system 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Informing industry and government about the whole system value of distributed energy resources 
 
Title Integrated whole-energy system (IWES) model 
Description Uniqueness of the model is in very granular spatial and temporal resolution while considering multi-energy vectors including electricity, heat, transport. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Informing Government about the cost effectiveness of alternative decarbonisation pathways 
 
Description Attending workshop on Modelling the Political, Societal, and Regulatory Implementation of the UK Energy System Decarbonisation Transition (MPSRI) 
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 I attended the workshop on 'Modelling the Political, Societal, and Regulatory Implementation of the UK Energy System Decarbonisation Transition (MPSRI)' on June 26th in London.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Engagement with EnergyUK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Following the completion of NEMDER project, I had a meeting with Energy UK, their head of generation and policy teams to discuss how the use of new data and methods can help with forecasting consumer demand. We also discussed how the adoption of low carbon technologies such as electric vehicles are going to influence network pricing mechanisms.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Expert interviews 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact We had carried out semi-structured interviews with 26 stakeholders across policy, academia, industry and SMEs. The aim was to gather knowledge and opinions on the use of new data sources, such as social media and mobile phone apps, and new methods like machine learning, to improve our understanding of consumers' energy behaviour in near-real time and at a high geographical resolution.

The questions covered the following areas:
1. What kinds of data and methods are currently in use in the energy sector?
2. What are the benefits and the risks of using new data types to predict energy demand?
3. What are the benefits of using new statistical/computational techniques?
4. How might innovative social interventions to influence energy behaviour be implemented?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Expert stakeholder workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact We held an expert workshop on October 19th. The aim of the workshop was to build on our findings from the interviews and literature review by engaging experts from across academia, policy, industry and commerce in discussions on how these new approaches can transform the energy sector. Across policy (BEIS, Ofgem), industry (National Grid, SSE, UKPN, EdF, Tempus Energy, Upside Energy), SMEs with expertise to develop tools/ apps for energy sector (Grid Duck, Onzo) and academic, 29 experts took part in the event. The event yielded insights as follows:
- Provide a critical reflection on the data and methods that are currently used in the energy sector.
- Articulate the benefits and the risks of using new data types to predict energy demand.
- Assess the scope for and potential benefits of using new statistical/computational techniques.
- Discuss how innovative social interventions to influence energy behaviour can be implemented
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Meeting with Centrica to discuss their Cornwall Local Energy Market and NEMDER 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact On 22th September, Centrica's Cornwall Local Energy Market project members (Sam Wevers and Donna Cooper) visited Cranfield University to discuss the collaboration opportunities between NEMDER and their project. This has resulted in them sponsoring a PhD studentship (NERD-IT: NEw forms of Real time Data informing Innovative Tariffs) as part of NERC Industrial Strategy Studentship to be based at DREAM CDT, based at Cranfield University. Unfortunately due to time restrictions for the appointment of the studentship, a suitable student couldn't be found. Yet, I'm currently exploring other PhD studentship opportunities with Centrica.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.dream-cdt.ac.uk/studying/application/
 
Description Meeting with Energy Systems Catapult 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact NEMDER project generated new insights on how new data sources and methods can help with improving modelling of energy systems across different timescales. Another finding of the project was on how these data sources can facilitate new business models. The meeting with colleagues at Energy System Catapult identified potential collaboration opportunities for future research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Modelling in public policy: Exploring research requirements to support the use of modelling evidence in energy policy development 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The event explored how techno-economic models of low carbon energy system are used to support policy decisions, and how this process can be improved.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at CHIST-ERA Conference, 19-21 June 2018, Helsinki 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact CHIST-ERA is a programme for European Coordinated Research on Long-term Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and ICT-based scientific challenges. I gave a talk on 'Opportunities and challenges for dynamic networked infrastructures' from energy systems perspective.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://conference2018.chistera.eu/
 
Description Presentation at a European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The PI gave a talk on 'New computational methods and data for energy transition' at the EERA Joint Programme on Economic, Environmental and Social impacts of Energy Policies and Technologies (E3S) workshop on "Challenges of the Energy Transition and Idea Creation". The workshop was held at the ENEA headquarters in Rome, Italy on March 6th. The participants were from different academic institutions across Europe, complemented further by Italian and German policy makers as well as ENEL (italian energy company). Following the workshop, we had an opportunity to engage with other European institutions to discuss collaboration activities for Horizon 2020 programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.eera-set.eu/e3s-workshop-challenges-of-the-energy-transition-and-idea-creation-rome-6-ma...
 
Description Renewable, Flexible and Resilient Energy Grids 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The central theme of this conference was to discuss how to obtain the right mix between flexibility and robustness necessary to operate energy systems with greater presence of renewable generation in a reliable and resilient way, considering several sources of uncertainty in the short and long term. The focus was on latest advances in the use of innovative forms of operation and in the design of electrical systems (including new technologies such as storage and demand control), market instruments and appropriate policies for this new context.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.cesworkshop.cl/18/es/inicio
 
Description Second expert stakeholder workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This second expert stakeholder workshop took place on 15th December. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the focus of the full proposal with the stakeholders and get their feedback. The event was attended by participants from energy industry and business. The participants were very interested in direction of the research to analyse how demands can be predicted in alternative future systems (e.g. one characterised by peer to peer trading versus one where energy is offered as a service rather than commodity as in today). This interest has translated into letters of support that industrial end users provided for the full project, including Energy Systems Catapult, Tempus Energy, National Grid, UKPN and Ovo Energy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Visiting Northern Powergrid 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact With Mike Tyler (the research assistant working on NEMDER project), I visited Northern Powergrid (NPG) offices in Castleford on December 12th. We met with Alan Creighton and Emma Burton. The aim of the meeting was to discuss smart meter data NPG collected via Ofgem funded Customer Led Network Revolution project. We discussed the opportunities to access this data to see to what degree machine learning can infer a better understanding of load profiles from aggregate substation data when combined with other socio-economic data (using GIS). This is something we would like to explore further in a future project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Workshop on nexus of smart energy, intelligent manufacturing and transportation systems 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Setting research agenda for future intelligent manufacturing and transportation systems
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019