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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P005950/1
Title: Towards Joint Power-Communication System Modelling and Optimisation for Smart Grid Application: Virtual Power Plant (TOPMOST)
Principal Investigator: SUN, Dr H
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Intel Corporation Ltd Sunamp Limited
Department: Engineering
Organisation: Durham, University of
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 22 December 2016 Ends: 04 September 2018 Value (£): 101,099
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Sustainable Energy Networks
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Aug 2016 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 3 August 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The UK's electricity networks are serving millions of people everyday but now are facing a challenging future, with ageing infrastructure but increasing penetration of Renewable Energy Sources (RESs). As such, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) has approved plans to spend £17bn for upgrading the UK's electricity networks till 2023 by using smarter technologies. As one of the most promising solutions, smart grid has attracted much attention, since it is capable of enabling bidirectional flows of energy and communications in the power grid infrastructure, that is crucial in improving the reliability, security, and efficiency of the electric systems and keeping the lights on at minimum cost to consumers.

The proposed research is concerned with one key smart grid application, i.e., Virtual Power Plant (VPP) which is designed to aggregate the capacity of many diverse distributed energy resources (DERs) and flexible demands to create a single operating profile as one "virtual power plant" that helps balance supply and demand in real time. To facilitate VPP, both optimisation algorithms and communication technologies play a significant role, but the full potential of VPP has been hampered by the lack of joint power-communication system models and the thorough analysis of the impact of communication system imperfections to optimisation algorithms.

If successful, this research will provide better understandings of these two systems operating with close interactions in VPP, develop more advanced methods in the design of VPP, and implement a hardware testbed of VPP with two-way real-time communication capability in Durham Smart Grid Laboratory. These could potentially lead to more efficient management of RESs and flexible demands, ultimately to improved operational efficiency of power grids for system operators and to reduced cost for consumers. Perhaps most importantly, however, is that this research will enable us to begin asking how we shall optimise theperformance of smart grid technologies, considering not only power systems but also realistic communication systems, thus encouraging multidisciplinary research and cross-fertilising both fields.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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