MaxImiSing flexibility through multi-Scale IntegratiON of energy systems (MISSION)

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


The UK has legally-binding targets to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase the use of renewable sources of energy. There is a target of reducing 80% of GHG emissions by 2050, compared to the 1990 level, as well as interim targets to reduce emissions and increase the use of renewable energy for 2020 and 2030. The electrification of heat along with a large utilisation of renewable sources for power generation are considered as a solution to meet the emission and renewable targets for UK. However, these will result in variability and uncertainty in electricity supply as well as substantially higher peaks of electricity demand. If these issues are to be addressed through a "predict and provide" approach (i.e. building more capacity for back-up power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure), significantly high costs will be incurred. These costs can be reduced by employing flexibility technologies enabling peak shaving and supporting electricity demand and supply balancing. A study for the UK Government estimates that deploying flexibility technologies (electricity storage, electricity demand response, flexible power station operation and international interconnectors) in the Great Britain power system can save up to £40bn of the power system costs to 2050 [1].

In addition to the flexibility offered by battery storage which requires massive investment to be realised, there already exist substantial energy storage and demand response potentials within heat and gas systems which can be exploited to support the operation of electricity system and facilitate a cost-effective transition to a low carbon and resilient energy system. To achieve this, efficient integration of electricity, heat and gas systems across different scales is required. For example, the correct integration of the electricity and heating sectors through optimal operation of "power-to-heat" technologies and thermal storage (in the form of hot water tanks, ad also as thermal storage using the thermal inertia of networks and buildings) enables a shift in electricity demand required for heating.

Research aims:
This research will (i) identify and quantify potential flexibility that is inherent in gas and heat systems (e.g. gas and thermal storage and demand response capability) across various scales (i.e. buildings, district heating system, national gas transmission systems), (ii) optimise the provision of flexibility from gas and heat systems to support the operation of a low carbon power system, and (iii) develop modelling tools and methodologies to inform energy policy and provide technical and regulatory recommendations to enable maximum exploitation of flexibility through energy systems integration.

Work Programme:
WP1. Project management, engagement and exploitation
WP2. Quantification of flexibility requirement in a low carbon power system
WP3. Characterisation and quantification of flexibility technologies in heat and gas sectors
WP4. Optimisation of integrated energy systems for flexibility provision
WP5. Agent-based game-theoretic model to investigate interactions between key players in integrated energy systems
WP6. Identifying real world barriers to exploitation of flexibility from energy systems integration


[1] Carbon Trust, "An analysis of electricity system flexibility for Great Britain," , 2016.

Planned Impact

This project will investigate cost-effective solutions for addressing the growing need for flexibility in electricity systems by developing modelling tools for optimising the synergies between electricity, gas and heat. The implementation of the research outputs by policy makers and relevant stakeholders will reduce the need for greater capacity for battery storage, peaking generating plants, transmission and distribution, and consequently lead to significant cost savings.

Collaboration and Knowledge Transfer:
The proposal has been developed in close collaboration with the industry partners. Effective collaborations with the project partners will be maintained throughout the project to ensure that their extensive experience and their forward-looking views will be considered in directing this research. A project Advisory Board (AB) has been formed consisting of senior delegates from key stakeholders in the UK energy sector who are potential users of this research including Wales and West Utilities, National Grid, Energy Systems Catapult, ITM Power and Tata Steel. LoSs from National Grid and ESC have not been received in time.

AB meetings: The AB will meet every 6 months throughout the project to provide technical advice and support implementation and exploitation of the project outcomes.
Focused meetings with stakeholders: In addition to the AB meetings, 30 focused meetings with individual stakeholders will be scheduled for detailed discussions around data, methodology and technical challenges regarding relevant work packages.

Deliverables of the project include transparent modelling tools for whole-system optimisation of electricity, gas and heat systems to maximise provision of flexibility and understand strategic behaviour of various players in a low carbon energy system. To maximise impact and develop commercialisation opportunities based on the results, the PI will actively engage with potential users of the developed modelling tools from early stage in the project. The modelling tools will be documented and made available to research community (via GitHub) for continuous enhancements. In addition, the modelling tools will be provided to project partners and other users to inform policy, support their investment decisions and shape their operational strategies.
Industry secondments: Secondment opportunities will be sought for the PI and the RAs to maximise the engagement with stakeholders and exploitation opportunities. One secondment to WWU, one secondment to National Grid and one secondment to University of Iceland will be organised.

Communication and dissemination:
The existence, objectives, activities, and findings of the project will be publicised and disseminated through project partners' networks. Also:
Building links with other research consortia: To guarantee the proposed project will benefit from and contribute to the broader research activities in the area of energy systems, close links will be established with ongoing relevant projects such as Supergen Hub in Energy Networks, Centre for Energy Systems Integration, Flexis and MAGNITUDE.
Presentations: Findings of the project will be disseminated through the project partners and presenting at relevant national and international research conferences and industry events.

Workshops: In addition to the AB meetings, annual workshops (3 in total) will be organised with wider participation of industry and the research community (~30 people) which will be used to refine the research questions, review and critique findings and support outreach.
Publications: The research outputs will be published in at least 4 original papers in high profile journals: Nature Energy and IEEE Transactions.
Media: To maximise engagement with public, the key findings/messages of the research will be conveyed through publishing articles in newspapers/websites and TV/radio.


10 25 50
Description Collaboration with University of Waterloo 
Organisation University of Waterloo
Country Canada 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am hosting a visiting researcher from University of Waterloo, and provided him with training opportunities.
Collaborator Contribution A visiting researcher from University of Waterloo joined the project from the beginning of January 2019 and spends 4 months to model heat and power sectors in the Great Britain using bi-level optimisation approach (he is contributing to WP5 of the project). He is funded by Mitacs Globalink.
Impact We already have submitted a journal paper to IET Energy Systems Integration journal. We are also writing another journal paper.
Start Year 2019
Description Engagement with National Grid to discuss the value of gas network flexibility 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact I and my colleagues met a team of managers and analyst in National Grid and discussed how our modelling tools and expertise can help National Grid to quantify the value of gas network flexibility, and therefore help National Grid with its proposal for RIIO2.

National Grid has requested us to carry our some analysis and modelling to inform them about the value of gas network flexibility.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019