New collaborative project will improve the efficiency of electricity distribution

Researchers from Mathematical Sciences and Electronic & Electrical Engineering are working with Western Power Distribution (WPD) and partners in a trial that aims to improve the efficiency of the electricity distribution network through anticipating network behaviour.

Dr Furong Li (Electronic & Electrical Engineering) and Dr Gavin Shaddick (Mathematical Sciences) will be helping WPD to examine pattern change of energy usage in an area spanning South Wales from Swansea to Newport, as the use of micro-generation, electric vehicles and heat pumps becomes significant.

Dr Gavin Shaddick said: “This project gives us a very exciting opportunity to generate highly detailed data on network usage on a large scale. We will use statistical techniques to identify patterns over time and to produce a set of profiles, or templates, which characterise usages for different areas and customer groups.

“Such analyses will enhance understanding of network usage and provide important information for decision making with regards to future smart operation and planning.”

Dr Furong Li said: “This project will help DNOs identify where there is spare capacity on the network. Using this spare capacity will improve the efficiency of network usage, which will benefit the DNOs from reduced network investment, benefit consumer from reduced prices, and benefit the industry from ongoing learning in the emerging space of smart grid.

“We are delighted to be closely engaged in this exciting project, which is likely to generate benchmark templates of a low carbon energy system for both industrial and academic communities.”

The research, financially supported by the energy regulator Ofgem’s first Low Carbon Networks Fund Competition, will classify each energy distribution area according to when and how much energy is used and shaped by low carbon resources, and use this information to create templates that can be applied to other locations across the UK.

WPD Chief Executive Robert Symons said: “This is an excellent project. It will benefit electricity users in South Wales and I am confident that it will provide valuable learning for the energy industry as a whole as well as other interested parties.

“The expertise available at the University of Bath means that a number of reusable network templates can be created that will enable DNOs across the country to understand the characteristics of the low-voltage network and its capabilities to absorb low-carbon stresses.”

Bath involvement in the project was facilitated by Dr Miles Davis from the University’s Research Development & Collaborations team (RD&C) who supported Bath’s engagement with WPD and input to the development of the proposal. Other project partners include the Welsh Assembly Government, RWE npower and Accenture.

Researchers wanting advice on putting together a grant application or setting up a research collaboration should contact Dr Jon Hunt, Head of the Research Development & Collaborations team on extension 4497.

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