Delivering Energy Flexible Built Environments through digital twins

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


Problem or Challenge
In the third quarter of 2019, the UK generated more electricity from renewables than from fossil fuels for the first time. The sustenance and resilience of this welcome shift necessitates building in so-called energy flexibility into the national energy system. Hitherto managed from the supply side, energy flexibility is the ability to synchronise the production of electricity from power plants to match demand. The urgency of decarbonising heat and transport through greater degrees of electrification, along with managing the intermittent nature of supply from renewables will inevitably increase the pressure on the grid. Therefore,
there is a pressing need for new and adept mechanisms of synchronising energy demand to adapt to variations in electricity provision.
MRes/PhD project objectives
This project will build upon recent advancements in digital twinning and develop novel simulation capabilities that enable adept demand-side management of buildings at district scales. It will investigate methods that can quantify energy flexibility of buildings, and their resilience to future shocks and changes with quantification of uncertainties.
PhD project description
Flexibility in demand can be achieved through thermal and battery storage, or through time management of activities and processes within buildings. However, the full potential can only be accrued at district-scales where demand from various activities and processes across multiple buildings can be tracked and managed dynamically and collectively. This poses challenges, whereby (a) energy demand must be disaggregated by activities, and allocated spatially and temporally (b) energy consuming activities and processes in buildings must be quantified as a time-dependent flexibility index, (c) models of active demand-response and
control must be tested, which includes short term forecasting.
MRes component
- A thorough literature review of the state-of-the-art in the combined use of energy monitoring and simulation modelling of buildings
- A proof-of-concept study of a small set of university buildings, which develops one or two components of the methodology


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S02302X/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2439647 Studentship EP/S02302X/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 James Ieuan Kinch