Centre for Energy Systems Integration





Start Date
Sept. 30, 2016

End Date
July 30, 2022


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Energy systems are vitally important to the future of UK industry and society. However, the energy trilemma presents many complex interconnected challenges. Current integrated energy systems modelling and simulation techniques suffer from a series of shortcomings that undermine their ability to develop and inform improved policy and planning decisions, therefore preventing the UK realising huge potential benefits. The current approach is characterised by high level static models which produce answers or predictions that are highly subject to a set of critical simplifying assumptions and therefore cannot be relied upon with a high degree of confidence. They are unable to provide sufficiently accurate or detailed, integrated representations of the physics, engineering, social, spatial temporal or stochastic aspects of real energy systems. They also struggle to generate robust long term plans in the face of uncertainties in commercial and technological developments and the effects of climate change, behavioural dynamics and technological interdependencies.

The aim of the Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI) is to address this weakness and reduce the risks associated with securing and delivering a fully integrated future energy system for the UK. This will be achieved through the development of a radically different, holistic modelling, simulation and optimisation methodology which makes use of existing high level tools from academic, industry and government networks and couples them with detailed models validated using full scale multi vector demonstration systems. CESI will carry out uncertainty quantification to identify the robust messages which the models are providing about the real world, and to identify where effort on improving models should be focused in order to maximise learning about the real world. This approach, and the associated models and data, will be made available to the energy community and will provide a rigorous underpinning for current integrated energy systems research, so that future energy system planning and policy formulation can be carried out with a greater degree of confidence than is currently possible.

CESI is a unique partnership of five research intensive universities and underpinning strategic partner Siemens (contribution value of £7.1m to the centre) The Universities of Newcastle, Durham, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Sussex have a combined RCUK energy portfolio worth over £100m. The centre will have a physical base as Newcastle University which will release space for the centre in the new £60m Urban Sciences Building. This building will contain world-class facilities from which to lead international research into digitally enabled urban sustainability and will also be physically connected to a full scale instrumented multi vector energy system. The building will feature an Urban Observatory, which will collect a diverse set of data from across the city, and a 3D Decision Theatre which will enable real-time data to be analysed, explored and the enable the testing of hypotheses.

The main aim of CESI's work is to develop a modular 'plug-n-play' environment in which components of the energy system can be co-simulated and optimised in detail. With no technology considered in isolation, considering sectors as an interlinked whole, the interactions and rebound effects across technologies and users can be examined.

The methodology proposed is a system architect concept underpinned by a twin track approach of detailed multi-vector, integrated simulation and optimisation at various scales incorporating uncertainty, coupled with large scale demonstration and experimental facilities in order to test, validate and evaluate solutions and scenarios. A System Architect takes a fully integrated, balanced, long term, transparent approach to energy system planning unfettered by silos and short term thinking.

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Potential Impact:
CESI has been designed to maximise the impact of the proposed research on the economy and society. We propose an Impact and Engagement Officer, seconding researchers into external organisations and creating a unique full-scale demonstration facility. The Centre Director time is 40%FTE, around 5% is estimated for impact and engagement networking and the awards from the £1m of "flexible funding" will be based on potential impact. Most of the demonstration facilities will be at Newcastle University's £60m Urban Sciences Building, which includes working space for CESI and its visiting academic, public and private collaborators.

CESI will address the gap between research and large scale deployments with unique full-scale demonstrator facilities. The most comprehensive demonstrator is Science Central which includes integrated smart energy networks and a £60m smart building. The importance that CESI non-academic partners attach to this project is shown by their significant financial support (cash and in-kind) as seen in the attached letters of support, including £7.1m contribution from Siemens. Senior figures from key partners have agreed to serve on our Industrial Innovation Board and our International Scientific Advisory Board. In order to encourage industry and the public sector to benefit from this research, CESI will endeavour to release all tools, models, scenarios and data.

The consortium has put in place routes for CESI to play an important role in influencing energy policy and many of the CESI academics work closely with DECC. For example, Professor Taylor sits on the DECC energy storage steering group. Due to its importance, DECC and the Scottish Government have stated that they wish to collaborate closely with CESI.

A specific route to policy impact is created by CESI's novel co-evolution cycle approach, combined with an energy trilemma evaluation. This will develop future scenarios showing how integrated energy systems can provide solutions for the UK. These findings will be disseminated through five annual policy briefings, covering energy systems integration issues for decision makers and they shall be invited to workshops and demonstrator open days. Academics will be supported in applying to the Royal Society Westminster and MEP-Scientist Pairing Schemes. CESI will embed researchers in Government Departments. Policy impact will also be enabled by CESI's collaboration with the Energy Systems Catapult. CESI will participate in the European Energy Research Alliance Joint Programme in Energy Systems Integration (EERA JP ESI) at a number of levels.

CESI will maximise the potential societal impact by building on our existing, long-term relationships with third sector partners such as National Energy Action and Thames Valley Vision. We will undertake public engagement by opening at least 2 of the 9 demonstrator open days to the public. CESI's work touches on societal challenges, as a result, we expect the research to be of interest to local media and we will publicise the outputs of the research to the local communities. These activities will exploit the Decision Theatre at Science Central to explain complex multi-dimensional decision-making to the public through 3D visualisation.

The CESI consortium will publish and disseminate research in leading journals and through high-profile conferences, including keynote and plenary lectures. To cement the necessary cross-disciplinary methods of working, some consortium researchers and PhD students will spend time at other academic institutions and/or with our industrial and government partners, and we have retained some flexible funding to meet the costs of these activities.

CESI is leveraging international collaboration to ensure that UKRC funding delivers significant international impact. Our international collaboration includes for example, Skoltech (Russia)and NREL (USA).

Subjects by relevance
  1. Energy policy
  2. Renewable energy sources
  3. Energy
  4. Simulation
  5. Sustainable development
  6. Future
  7. Scenarios
  8. Optimisation
  9. Technological development
  10. Climate changes

Extracted key phrases
  1. Current integrated energy system modelling
  2. Energy Systems Integration
  3. Future energy system planning
  4. Energy system research
  5. Multi vector energy system
  6. Energy system
  7. Energy system planning unfettered
  8. Real energy system
  9. Energy system integration issue
  10. Energy Systems Catapult
  11. Centre Director time
  12. Scale multi vector demonstration system
  13. European Energy Research Alliance Joint Programme
  14. National Energy Action
  15. Energy policy

Related Pages

UKRI project entry

UK Project Locations