Optimising strategies for integrating intermittent renewable generation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering


Transitioning to high proportions of renewable energy generation will be necessary in order to achieve substantial decarbonisation of energy usage across all sectors. However, the integration of these renewable sources into modern energy systems presents substantial challenges, due to the inherent variability of many prominent renewable technologies and the associated uncertainty this introduces. Existing energy systems and infrastructure must be adapted to support this intermittent generation, for instance via the introduction of auxiliary technologies such as energy storage, demand-side response, and sector coupling. However, these mitigation techniques impose additional costs to the provision of low-carbon energy. Energy systems modelling provides insight into the nature and behaviour of future, fully renewable energy systems, and can be used to identify minimal cost strategies for integrating renewables into the power mix to support policy making for system development. The proposed research seeks to investigate how advanced concepts of statistical and modelling uncertainty can be incorporated into energy systems modelling. It aims to develop analysis methods that are uncertainty aware and thus able to determine strategies which will be robust and perform optimally under the uncertainties faced by the energy system. Such methods would improve the reliability of energy system model results and thus the trust which policy makers can place in their strategy recommendations.

Planned Impact

The primary impact of the FIBE2 CDT will be the benefit to society that will accrue from the transformative effect that FIBE2 graduates will have upon current and future infrastructure. The current FIBE CDT has already demonstrated significant impact and FIBE2 will extend this substantially and with particular focus on infrastructure resilience. There will be further impacts across academic research, postgraduate teaching, industry-academia partnering and wider society. Our CDT students are excellent ambassadors and their skills and career trajectories are inspirational. Their outputs so far include >40 journal and conference papers, contributions to a CIRIA report, a book chapter and >15 prizes (e.g. Cambridge Carbon Challenge, EPSRC Doctoral Prizes, best presentation awards). Our students' outreach activities have had far reaching impacts including: Science Festival activities and engineering workshops for school girls. Our innovative CDT training approaches have shifted the culture and priorities in academia and industry towards co-creation for innovation. Our FIBE CDT features in the EPSRC document 'Building Skills for a Prosperous Nation'. Our attention to E&D has resulted in 50% female students with the inspirational ethos attracting students from wide ranging educational backgrounds.

FIBE2 CDT will build on this momentum and expand the scope and reach of our impact. We will capitalise on our major research and training initiatives and strategic collaborations within academia, industry and government to train future infrastructure leaders to address UK and global challenges and this will have direct and significant technical, economic and social impacts for UK infrastructure, its associated stakeholders and civil society at large.

As well as the creation of cohorts of highly skilled research cohorts with cross-disciplinary technical skills, further specific impacts include:

-a transformational cross-disciplinary graduate training and research approach in infrastructure with depth and breadth.

-new forms of Industry-University partnerships. Co-creation with industry of our training and research initiatives has already led to new forms of partnerships such as the I+ scheme, and FIBE2 will further extend this with the 'employer model' variant and others.

-skilled research-minded challenge-focused graduates for UK employers who will derive significant benefit from employing them as catalysts for enterprise, knowledge exchange and innovation, and thus to business growth opportunities.

-enhanced global competitiveness for industrial partners. With our extensive network of 27 industry partners from across all infrastructure sectors who will actively shape the centre with us, we will deliver significant impact and will embrace the cross-disciplinary research emergeing from the CDT to gain competitive advantage.

-support for policy makers at the highest levels of national and local government. The research outcomes and graduates will contribute to an evidence-based foundation for improved decision-making for the efficient management, maintenance and design of infrastructure.

-world-class research outcomes that address national needs, via the direct engagement of our key industrial partners. Other academic institutions will benefit from working with the Centre to collectively advance knowledge.

-wider professional engagement via the creation of powerful informal professional networks between researchers, practitioners, CDT alumni and CDT students, working nationally and internationally, including some hosted by FIBE2 CDT industry partners.

-future generations of infrastructure professional inspired by the FIBE2 CDT's outreach activities whereby pupils, teachers and parents gain insight into the importance of infrastructure engineering.

-the generation of public awareness of the importance of a resilient infrastructure to address inevitable and often unexpected challenges.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S02302X/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2605990 Studentship EP/S02302X/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2025 Max Langtry