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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I031707/1
Title: Transformation of the Top and Tail of Energy Networks
Principal Investigator: Green, Professor T
Other Investigators:
Johnson, Professor CM Thomson, Dr M Rowland, Professor SM
Mitcheson, Professor PD Mawby, Professor P Swingler, Professor S
Finney, Professor SJ Haddad, Professor A Jenkins, Professor N
Terzija, Professor V Green, Professor RJ Bell, Professor KRW
Ozaki, Dr R Lewin, Professor P Gross, Dr R
Kelly, Dr N Clare, Professor J Infield, Professor D
Vaughan, Professor A Burt, Professor GM
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr D Pudjianto
Project Partners:
Dynex Semiconductor (CRRC Times UK) National Grid Turbopowersystems
Department: Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 01 October 2011 Ends: 30 September 2015 Value (£): 4,132,072
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Sustainable Energy Networks
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 Mar 2011 Energy Networks Grand Challenge Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
There are two very particular places in energy networks where existing network technology and infrastructure needs radical change to move us to a low carbon economy. At the Top of network, i.e. the very highest transmission voltages, the expected emergence of transcontinental energy exchange in Europe (and elsewhere) that is driven by exploitation of diversity in renewable sources and diversity in load requires radical innovation in technologies. Many of these proposed interconnectors will be submarine or underground cable and High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) must be used. Power ratings for the voltage source AC/DC converters for HVDC use are presently around 500 MW while the need is for links of up to 20 GW. A change of this magnitude requires radical innovation in technology. To focus our research in HVDC cable technology and power converters we have defined target ratings of 1 MV and 5 kA. The Tail of the network is the so-called last mile and behind the meter wiring into customer premises. More than half the capital cost of an electricity system is sunk in the last mile and cost and disruption barriers have made it resistant to change. Not only have recent changes in consumer electronics yet to impact network design, there are radical changes in future heat and transport services that need to be met. The challenge is to reengineer the way in which the last mile assets are used without changing the most expensive part: the cables and pipes in the ground. To get this right means starting with a fresh look at the energy services required and seeing what flexibility there is to meet the service expectation differently. A consortium of universities has been brought together to address this transformation of our energy networks. Several of the bid partners have had leading roles in Supergen consortia in the networks area but this consortium includes new partners whose expertise, especially in the power electronics field, is strongly indicated as game-changing. For the first time, the power electronics researchers in Warwick, Nottingham, Imperial and Strathclyde and the insulation materials groups in Manchester and Southampton are proposing to work together bringing developments of underpinning technologies to bear on network issues. These technology developments are folded into the energy network planning and operations work of Strathclyde, Manchester, Cardiff and Imperial. Birmingham brings energy economics expertise and Imperial expertise in energy policy and the social science of consumer acceptance. Several important industrial companies are engaged with this programme to form our scientific advisory board and to pick up and use results that emerge. These in clued network operators such as National Grid and Central Networks, equipment manufacturers such as Alstom Grid and Converteam and component manufacturers such as Dynnex and Dow Chemicals.Although the proposed project will address major challenges of technology, we recognise that transforming our energy networks is not merely a technical question. Members of the consortium already have links with civil servants and advisors in a number of administrations in the UK including DECC, the Scottish Government, WAG and NIE. These links allow us to understand the context in which energy policy is made. Consortium members have given advice to Ofgem on the Low Carbon Networks Fund, Parliamentary Select Committees and have been active in projects commissioned through the Energy Technologies Institute. Thus although the focus of your project is on a timescale of 20-40 years the results of our research will impact network development much earlier. Discussions to date with our partners in these organisations suggest a great deal of excitement about what work on the Energy Networks Grand Challenge can contribute.
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