Supergen Energy Networks hub 2018

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering

Abstract

Energy networks are vitally important enablers for the UK energy sector and therefore UK industry and society. The energy trilemma (energy security, environmental impact and social cost) presents many complex interconnected challenges which reach beyond the UK and have huge relevance internationally. These challenges vary considerably from region to region, and change as a result of technology and society changes. Therefore, the planning, design and operation of energy networks needs to be revisited and optimised. Current energy networks research does not fully embrace a whole systems approach and is therefore not developing a deep enough understanding of the interconnected and interdependent nature of energy network infrastructure.

The Supergen Energy Networks Hub will provide leadership, a core research programme and mechanisms/funding for the energy networks community to grow and come together to develop this deeper understanding and explore opportunities to shape energy networks which are fit for the future.

The research component of the Hub's activities comprises an interconnected and complementary series of work packages. The work packages are: WP1: Understanding, Shaping and Challenging; WP2: Energy Network Infrastructure; WP3: ICT and Data; WP4: Policy and Society; WP5: Markets and Regulation; WP6: Risk and Uncertainty. WP1 incorporates a co-evolutionary approach and brings the other work packages together in a structured way. WP2 is the backbone of the research, dealing with the physical infrastructure in a multi vector manner from the outset. WP3 to WP6 deal with aspects of energy networks that cut across, and are equally valid, for all vectors and have the ability to integrate and modernise network infrastructures. All work packages will consider both planning and design as well as operational aspects. Experimental work and demonstrators will be essential to progress in energy networks research and the Hub will bring these facilities to bear through WP1.

The Hub will engage with the energy networks communities throughout the research programme, to ensure that the work is informed by best practice and that the findings are widely visible and understood.

The main objectives of the communication and engagement activities will be to ensure the energy networks academic community are connected and coherent, and that their work has a high profile and deep level of understanding in the relevant Industrial, Governmental and Societal communities both nationally and internationally. This will maximise the chances of high impact outcomes in the energy networks space as well as promoting energy networks as an exciting and dynamic area to carry out research, thus attracting the brightest minds to get involved.

Communication and engagement activities will be a constant feature of the Hub and will be particularly energetic during the first twelve months in order to rapidly establish a brand, and an open and supportive culture within the relevant communities. Engagement activities will as far as possible be carried out in conjunction with other key organisations in the energy space, to maximise the value of the engagement activities.

The Hub aims to become a beacon for equality, diversity and inclusion. Our mission is to enhance equality of opportunity and create a positive, flourishing, safe and inclusive environment for everyone associated with the Hub, from staff, students, Advisory Board members and general Hub representation (at conferences, workshops and reviews). We recognise the need and the challenges to support early career researchers, and improve the balance of protected characteristics across the entire Hub community, such as race or ethnicity, gender reassignment, disability, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, pregnancy or maternity status, marital status or socio-economic background.

Planned Impact

The scientific goal of Supergen Energy Networks Hub is to advance the UK strengths in whole-systems energy networks through a balanced effort between high-impact user-driven research and fundamental discovery-driven research. The Hub's Pathway to Impact will ensure these scientific developments lead to material impacts to the UK businesses, key industries, academic community, energy policies and the wider society in accessing clean, affordable and secure energy.

Impact beneficiaries:

A. Industry and Public Sector
The Hub shall undertake the following specific pathways to impact for industry and public sector stakeholders:
1. Translating research into applications. We will mobilise demonstrators across multiple sites, each with unique research, development and capabilities to suit business and the industry's diverse needs.
2. Clear dissemination of research outputs. Newcastle University's Urban Observatory and Decision Theatre, that consolidate and manipulate energy data and visualise integrated systems, will be used to disseminate findings through online and face-to-face workshops, to enable the Hub to maximise the routes to impact.
3. Case studies. Case study outputs from the 'shaping' and 'challenging' stages shall bring our cutting-edge research closer to real life energy issues. This will enable the key stakeholders to understand and access the relevant research and innovation. These case studies shall be disseminated through industry events.

B. Policy and Society
The Hub shall undertake the following specific pathways to impact for policy and society stakeholders:
1. Policy briefings will be disseminated to decision makers through our networks, and will be supplemented by face-to-face, tailored briefings with key partners such as BEIS, Ofgem, DfT.
2. Decision makers will be invited to planned workshops, where further information on policy briefings will also be provided.
3. Quarterly joint briefings by the Bio, Offshore and Energy Networks Hubs held in London, covering different themes, aimed at policy makers.
3. Academic Hub members will be supported in applying to the Royal Society Westminster and MEP-Scientist Pairing Schemes. These mechanisms will increase our engagement with policy makers and increase the impact of our work.
4. Policy impact will be enabled by our collaboration with other networks who engage with policy makers, such as the Energy Systems Catapult, UKERC and UKCRED.
5. The Hub's work touches on societal challenges such as big data challenges, energy security, air quality, energy equity and justice. As a result, we expect the research to be of interest to local media and will work with the partner Universities to publicise the outputs of the research to the local communities.

C. People
To cement the necessary cross-disciplinary methods of working, Hub researchers and PhD students are encouraged to spend time at other academic institutions and/or with our industrial and government partners. The involvement of Early Career Researchers will enable their development as highly skilled researchers with the theoretical and practical skills needed to transform organisations, addressing a recognised engineering skills gap. We intend to provide added training and education to both students and RAs, to give them appropriate skills in accordance with the Vitae Researcher Development Framework.

D. International stakeholders
The UK is internationally leading in smart energy systems research, and the UK industry is advanced in demonstrating new technologies, disruptive business models and markets to renovate legacy infrastructure. The Hub will promote the international applicability of UK energy networks research, through keynote and research presentations at academic and industry conferences overseas.

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