Demand profiles and flexibility insights from smart meter data

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources


Rapid decarbonisation of our energy system is required to mitigate climate change. Energy demand from the built stock is an important component of the zero carbon transition; the domestic sector is the largest energy demand during the winter peak. Central to most plans to decarbonise the UK are the electrification of heat and transport, leading to significant increases in electricity demand from heat pumps (HPs) and for charging electric vehicles (EVs).

Matching electricity demand with supply is critical for energy security and avoiding power cuts, and may be achieved through flexible generation, storage and demand side response (DSR). With the rapid increase in relatively inflexible low carbon generation (wind, PV, nuclear), storage and DSR are expected to play a major role in balancing the grid on an hourly timescale. However, the real potential for DSR, changing demand in response to a signal, depends on the technologies installed, behaviours, the physical properties of a home and the heating system. This is not well characterised for homes that fall outside specific technology trials and therefore the true demand profiles and potential to adapt them are not well defined.

This PhD will address this exciting area by analysing smart meter data, survey data and energy performance certificate (EPC) data to provide insights into the demand from homes with HPs and EVs. Temperature monitoring may also be used to bring deeper insights into how and when heating is used, and to better understand the thermal performance of homes.

The successful candidate will work with internationally respected researchers, supported not only by their supervisors but also by the vibrant and skilled research teams undertaking cutting-edge research in this area. They will also join the wider ERBE cohort to benefit from high quality training and support throughout their PhD.

This project aims to analyse smart meter data, contextual survey information and EPC data, potentially including benchmark modelling, to investigate the difference between demand profiles for homes with conventional heating and vehicles to those with HPs and EVs. It will provide insights into the real demand from these technologies over different seasons and demographics. The flexibility to change consumption in response to a price signal (DSR) will be explored, building on UCL's research into flexibility ratings, with a sub-set participating in internal temperature monitoring to derive more detailed insight.

Planned Impact

The low carbon energy systems needed to achieve the Government's carbon 2050 reduction targets promise declining generation costs, but at the price of inflexibility and intermittency. The challenge is to contain costs and improve energy system security, by building in resilience. The opportunities include: more efficient energy conversion, networks and storage technologies; improved energy control and management systems; integration of energy performance into modern methods of construction; improved measurement, display and control systems; and new business models. This will bring pervasive economic benefits: the creation of new intellectual property and expertise; businesses with the ability to compete in the huge new markets for energy efficiency and resilience, both in the UK and overseas; healthier and more productive places to work and live; and a means to address social hardship and inequalities, such as fuel poverty, which affects the health and wellbeing of society's most vulnerable. Seizing these opportunities requires leaders with multi-disciplinary knowledge, skills and whole-system perspective to break down restrictive, sector-specific silos, and drive innovation. The ERBE CDT will train such leaders.

The short and medium term impacts of the ERBE CDT will arise during the training of these leaders and through their research outputs and collaborations. These will include, but are not be restricted to: new approaches to analysis; new insights derived from large datasets; new modelling methods and ways of using existing models; new experimental techniques; field and laboratory measurement techniques; improved socio-technical methods; new manufacturing methods, devices, primary data sets, and patents; and, together with our industrial stakeholders, the integration of research into the business innovation process.

The longer term impacts will be realised over the next 40 years as ERBE graduates take on influential roles in diverse organisations, including:
- national and local governmental organisations that are developing affordable and socially acceptable evidence-based energy policies;
- energy supply and services companies that are charged with delivering a clean reliable and economical system, through deployment of energy efficiency products and technologies within an evolving energy system architecture;
- technology companies that are developing new components for energy generation and storage, new heating, cooling and ventilation systems, and smart digital controls and communications technology;
- industries that are large consumers of fuel and power and need to reduce their energy demand and curb the emission of greenhouse gases and pollutants;
- consultancies that advise on the design of energy systems, non-domestic building design and urban masterplans;
- facilities managers, especially those in large organisations such as retail giants, the NHS, and education, that are charged with reducing energy demand and operating costs to meet legally binding and organisational targets;
- standards organisations responsible for regulating the energy and buildings sectors through the creation of design guides and regulatory tools;
- NGOs and charities responsible for promoting, enabling and effecting energy demand reduction schemes;
- health and social care providers, who need to assure thermal comfort and indoor air quality, especially as our population ages and we adopt more flexible healthcare models.

The realisation of these benefits requires people with specific skills and an understanding of the associated ethical, health & safety, regulatory, legal, and social diversity and inclusion issues. Most importantly, they must have the ability to look at problems from a new perspective, to conceive, and develop new ideas, be able to navigate the RD&D pathway, and have the ability to articulate their intentions and to convince others of their worth; the ERBE CDT will develop these capabilities.



Jamie Corson (Student)


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S021671/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2714201 Studentship EP/S021671/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Jamie Corson