University engineering team nominated for national award

A team of University of Bath engineers has been shortlisted for a national award for coming up with a new way of delivering electricity that could save £200 million and help reduce energy bills. 

Led by Dr Furong Li from the University's Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, the team is shortlisted for the Outstanding Contribution to Innovation & Technology category of the Times Higher Education 2009 awards.

The award recognises and promotes technological breakthroughs at institutions which have the potential to significantly enhance the operations of the commercial or public sector. It is open to institutions, teams or individuals in the UK.

Dr Li said: "While I was very surprised and delighted by this recognition, I believe our research could have huge impact on how renewable energy will develop. The shortlist recognises our group's contribution to promoting efficiency and sustainability in electricity distribution, thus lowering the electricity bill that end consumers would otherwise have to pay for green energy."

Dr Li's team has developed a revolutionary new charging system which will encourage energy companies to produce electricity locally using renewable sources, and help the UK to meet its targets for reducing CO2 emissions whilst minimising the costs of laying new cables and installing pylons.

Now the gas and electricity markets regulator, Ofgem, is using the team's research as the basis for one of its preferred charging systems for electricity distribution, replacing the one used by the industry for the past 25 years.

In a study commissioned by Ofgem, the team showed that the pricing system promotes locally produced green energy and could save £200 million in energy distribution. This could ultimately be factored into significant cost reduction in consumers' electricity bill.

Dr Li said: "Our long-term vision is to provide ready-to-adopt innovative solutions to a whole range of supply industries, including water, gas and road. This will ultimately contribute to the efficient delivery of a low-carbon economy and help the supply industries to provide better services for consumers' money."

The local distribution company, Western Power Distribution, was the first to adopt the Bath network pricing system from April 2007. Other distributors, such as EDF and CE Electric are expected to follow suit.

The winners will be revealed at a gala dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London on 15 October 2009.

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