News and Events
Energy Demand Research Centre (EDRC) research programme brings together five thematic strands of work, one of which focuses on energy demand flexibility.
The Demand Flexibility theme is led by Professor Jacopo Torriti at the University of Reading. This theme will assess the needs, impacts and implications of demand flexibility. Demand flexibility is the ability to increase, decrease or shift energy demand across time and/or space, so that energy needs can be met in different locations at different times of the day or the year. In particular, the theme will explore and help develop solutions that enable the effective and equitable deployment of demand flexibility, so that the benefits these solutions bring about can be shared by everyone.
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The University of Reading is leading a key theme in a new research hub, aiming to change the way the UK uses energy.
Professor Jacopo Torriti, from the School of Built Environment, will lead the Flexibility Theme of the new £15 million Energy Demand Centre, as part of a £53 million investment in six research hubs and centres aiming to help the UK meet its net zero target by 2050.
The Flexibility Theme will explore the capacity to shift energy consumption at different times of the day or the year to make the most of renewables.
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Demand Flexibility Certificates have been published by Jose Ramirez-Mendiola, Timur Yunusov and Jacopo Torriti, University of Reading
Increasing the Visibility of Demand Flexibility through Demand Flexibility Certification
The majority of the electricity consumed in the UK now comes from low-carbon sources. In the second quarter of this year, fossil fuels accounted for only 37% of total generation. Meanwhile, renewables and nuclear accounted for over 50% of the total. Power generation is fundamentally shifting away from fossil fuels, and we are seeing renewable energy production at levels 30 times higher than 25 years ago.
At the same time, energy prices are the highest they have been for a long time, with wholesale gas and electricity prices dramatically increasing following the invasion of Ukraine, reaching x10 at their peak.
Although energy prices have eased more recently, consumer bills remain at roughly double historic levels, and this winter households are bracing for bills as high as last winter’s. In addition to this, customer service levels have fallen, with the number of people reporting difficulties contacting their supplier has doubled since 2018, customer satisfaction levels have fallen and the public are less trusting of energy suppliers than of service providers in other sectors.
These unwelcome news are partly due to changes in Government support. However, they are also a symptom of a bigger problem, which is the fact that as we move towards a net zero society, energy systems will become increasingly reliant on Demand Flexibility for their optimal, and cost-effective operation.
National Grid ESO’s Demand Flexibility Service has demonstrated the usefulness of Demand Flexibility at the system level. However, the role of Demand Flexibility as a system resource is still being consolidated, and there’s much work to be done in terms of defining the net zero policies relevant to the standardisation of Demand Flexibility metrics and increasing the ‘visibility’ of the Demand Flexibility potential itself.
The buildings sector is set to become the most numerous sector of prospective Demand Flexibility providers. National Grid ESO’s report on Future Energy Scenarios of 2023 estimated that, by 2040, flexible Demand Response from residential, commercial and industrial sectors could provide between 6-12 GW of Demand Flexibility. By 2050, it is envisaged that between 10-12 GW of Demand Flexibility could be harnessed from the residential sector alone.
Up until now, however, the Demand Flexibility potential of the buildings sector has been largely untapped. This can be attributed in great measure to the lack of robust frameworks that allow for producing reliable and consistent estimates of the Demand Flexibility potentials afforded by individual assets at the household, dwelling or building level. To address this issue, the Flexibility Theme at the Energy Demand Research Centre (EDRC) have set out to develop a Demand Flexibility Certification framework that aims to fill some of the void in the net-zero policy space, allowing for a structured assessment of the Demand Flexibility potential of individual buildings.
In their new report, the Flexibility Theme introduces the concept of Demand Flexibility Certificates and lays the methodological foundations for establishing a Demand Flexibility rating system.
Demand Flexibility Certificates are akin to the Energy Performance Certificates in the sense that they provide buildings with a rating, only that instead of being for general Energy Performance, they are specifically intended to summarise the potential for providing Demand Flexibility at the building level. Having the ability to produce Demand Flexibility Certificates would prove highly beneficial as it would serve three main purposes.
Firstly, a Demand Flexibility Certification framework would allow for identifying opportunities to improve Demand Flexibility potential of individual buildings/providers. Having a clear idea of both what is available and what is achievable is a necessary first step when it comes to engaging in Demand Flexibility provision. Therefore, any prospective Demand Flexibility provider would be better suited to do so if guidelines and frameworks exist that allow for a systematic analysis of the Demand Flexibility potential of one or a combination of buildings.
Secondly, a detailed mapping of the Demand Flexibility potential of individual buildings would provide reliable pictures of both the current state of and prospects for making use of such Demand Flexibility potential at the local, regional and national levels. In the first instance, this can inform system planning and management decisions in relation to network reinforcement needs and temporary buffering opportunities.
Thirdly, understanding how much we can use the existing Demand Flexibility in different areas, like local, regional, and national levels, will show where it is most important to invest. This will help making Demand Flexibility even stronger, especially in places where network constraints are most problematic, and reinforcements are too difficult or too costly. Whenever it is determined that the need for network reinforcements is unavoidable, this can also help in identifying the parts of the network which should be placed at the top of the list of priorities.
In essence, a building’s Demand Flexibility Certificate would become a currency of sorts, which would allow both prospective Flexibility providers and Flexibility users to quickly and reliably assess the value that a building could offer. This would, in turn, be reflected in a Demand Flexibility market that is able to operate in a more efficient manner.
The Flexibility theme will continue to work on further developing their proposed Demand Flexibility Certification framework, as well as investigating the barriers and opportunities for implementation.
‘Unlocking Local Energy Plans’ Workshop, 13th December 2023 10:00-16:00, Chancellors Building. Whiteknights Campus
‘Unlocking Local Energy Plans’ Workshop on Wednesday 13th December 2023 at 10:00-16:00, in G03, Chancellors Building, Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading, Reading. RG6 6DF
You are invited to ‘Unlocking Local Energy Plans’ Workshop hosted by the Energy and Environmental Engineering Group at the University of Reading and supported by CREDS (www.creds.ac.uk) on 13 December 2023, 10:00 to 16:00 at the University of Reading.
This event is designed for local authority, researchers, business, system operators, policy-makers and others interested in current challenges and the future direction of local energy plans with particular focus on greater electrification of demand and distributed electricity generation.
For more details about this event and to register, please go to Evenbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/unlocking-local-energy-plans-workshop-registration-754555494797?aff=oddtdtcreator
Registration will close on the 30th November 2023.
Funding is available to support travel costs to the event so if required, please make request for support when booking.
This event is supported by CREDS, the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions and is a research programme funded by UK Research and Innovation. The Centre’s aim is to understand the role of energy demand change in accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon energy system, including the technical, social and governance challenges of demand reduction, flexible demand and use of decarbonised energy.
LCA in Food Systems Webinar : 30th November 2023 11:00-12:00 hosted by Energy & Environmental Engineering Research Group
The Energy & Environmental Engineering Research Group will be hosting a webinar on November 30th (International Industrial Ecology Day) from 11am-12pm GMT on research being done at the University of Reading on LCA in food systems. Topics will include LCA application to agroecology, animal welfare, nitrogen & crop rotation, nutritional considerations, and food waste management. Please see the link below for more details and to register.
Abstract: The food system comprises a complex network of activities and actors, navigating convoluted supply chains to deliver energy and nutrients across the globe. In supplying these, it is estimated that agriculture is responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions (Crippa et al, 2021) and 90% of tropical deforestation (Pendrill et al, 2022). Meanwhile, a third of all food produced fails to reach our plates (UNEP 2021), exacerbating these impacts and contributing to food insecurity. In the face of escalating climate and biodiversity crises, a dramatic shift in this system seems increasingly inevitable. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is increasingly being used as a tool to understand and reduce our food system’s impact on our planetary support systems, while taking a broader view of its implications on workers as well as the nutritional quality of our diets. Our webinar programme features food-related LCA research being undertaken at the University of Reading that explores small scale agroecological production systems, reviews methodologies to incorporate animal welfare aspects in LCA, impacts of nitrogen use and crop rotation, nutrition in disadvantaged communities, and sustainability analysis of food waste management in developing-world cities.
A new 4-year research partnership beginning November 1st, 2024 has been funded by BBSRC, coupling researchers Eugene Mohareb from the School of the Built Environment at the University of Reading and David Bristow from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Victoria. The collaboration, entitled “Sustainability & Resilience Assessments of Long-Term Biobased Transitions of Food System”, will explore different pathways in which the food system may evolve over the next century. Building of two existing UKRI grants (FoodSEqual – PI Carol Wagstaff; HiFi Bread – PI Marcus Tindall), the work will aim to develop research ideas that consider the resource requirements, as well as wellbeing and food security implications, associated with the evolution of the food system under agroecological and precision agriculture production regimes.
Dr Stefan Thor Smith has been interviewed for an article, ‘How to build the heatwave-proof houses of the future’ published by The Sunday Times.
A 2-day online workshop with additional 1-day pre-workshop ‘training camp’
15th and 16th September 2022 (optional pre-workshop training camp on 14th September)
0600-1000 Denver, 1300-1700 London, 1400-1800 Berlin, 2200-0200 Sydney
Registration link (deadline Friday 2nd September)
Climate risk in energy systems can take many forms. From weather hazards and system resilience, through stress-events impacting the security of supply (e.g., “dunkelflaute”), to the need for climate-robust capacity expansion planning against a uncertain future, the need for a deeper understanding of climate uncertainty is both profound and urgent.
Since 2020, the NextGenEC initiative has drawn together researchers from across the energy- and climate- sciences with the aim of highlighting the state-of-the-art, identifying scientific opportunities, and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange. You can find out about previous editions here, including a report from our first workshop , a recent perspective article in Joule on “Overcoming the disconnect between energy system and climate modelling”, and details and videos of our recent webinar series here.
The 2022 edition of the NextGenEC workshop will focus on 4 overlapping themes:
- Modelling weather-driven infrastructure damage in current and future energy systems
- Planning for black and green swans: storylines for managing rapid transformations in climate & energy
- Forecasting and predictability: planning and managing variable renewables
- Energy models for all: open access to knowledge & tools for energy and climate modelling
Participants are invited to present their own research and engage in working group discussions either addressing the four main themes (or via a 5th ‘open’ theme for new and emerging topics).
New for 2022 and in response to participant feedback, the NextGenEC organising committee is also pleased to announce an optional ‘training camp’ running the day before the main workshop. The training camp provides an opportunity to get a crash course in the fundamentals of energy-climate science and includes hands-on activities to get you started working with climate data in energy models. Please note that spaces on the training camp are limited to enable a highly interactive and practical focus – early registration is recommended.
If you require further information, please contact email@example.com.
The UCL Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction is looking for a Part-Time Research Assistant in Data-savvy Talent in Project Management to support a project funded by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This post will be for 18.25 hours per week, based on campus, and will be for 12 months from 1st March 2022 to 28th February 2023.
Applicants should hold a good Bachelor’s degree (minimum of 2:1) and an MSc or MBA in a management subject, and should have excellent skills – verbal communication, IT, project management and administration.
Please visit the advertisement with details on how to apply: https://portal.unitemps.com/Search/JobDetails/25229711
Principal Investigator, Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki, is happy to have an informal discussion about the post and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested applicants who are studying towards their PhD are encouraged to have permission from their PhD supervisor before applying.
Assuming no behavioural change, the paper imposes time-of-use electricity tariffs tariffs on UK half hourly smart meter data and the synthetic demand profiles for different household composition generated using the 2014–2015 UK Time Use Survey data and optimisation of energy consumption per activity against the smart meter data.
The paper clarifies that the overall benefits of time-of-use electricity tariffs will be significant, especially in light of the expansion of electric vehicles and heat pumps.
Yunusov, T. and Torriti, J. (2021) Distributional effects of Time of Use tariffs based on electricity demand and time use. Energy Policy , 156 ISSN: 0301-4215 | doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2021.112412