Local smart grids

Timeline: May 2015 – April 2017

Our team includes: Gordon Walker, Mette Kragh Furbo

Some of our key questions include:

  • How are objectives of energy demand reduction managed in practice?
  • How are strategies shaped by competing performance goals and expectations, what craft skills, intuition and experimentation are involved?
  • How do developments in on-site microgeneration and energy storage impact on the real time management of energy supply and demand at different points across the network as a whole?

And these are some of the ideas we are engaging with:

Energy and mobility systems managers have an active role in monitoring and controlling flows of energy and of movement through transport systems. Increasingly sophisticated technologies are used to deliver detailed real time knowledge about conditions of various forms, and to remotely set and control key parameters and inputs at scales ranging from those of individual building management through to city wide transport systems. At every level, the managers of these systems have a substantial stock of experience that merits systematic analysis and investigation.

The research will investigate case studies of local/regional real time energy management within building complexes (retail centres, hospitals, industrial parks), and transport and electricity supply networks, including control rooms of TfL and the Highways Agency. These case studies will involve interviews, periods of observation and analysis of system and training documentation. Interviews will also be undertaken with management system developers, and with relevant actors in smart grid pilot projects in France (with EDF researchers).

This project will document and compare current practices, priorities and challenges of real time demand management, identifying systemic tensions and potential solutions, and feeding results into ongoing experiments and emerging plans for more decentralised systems and ‘smarter’ grids/methods of managing congestion and flow.

For more detailed information about how the project fits into the Demand Research Programme you can read the 13-page DEMAND research summary.