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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N50855X/1
Title: Optimising regional clusters of smart local energy systems
Principal Investigator: Strickland, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Engineering and Applied Science
Organisation: Aston University
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 May 2015 Ends: 30 April 2016 Value (£): 29,540
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Sustainable Energy Networks
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Transformation of the national electricity network is being explored through a series of projects funded by the Low Carbon

Networks Fund (LCNF). Simultaneously Innovate-UK and others are investing in a variety of projects to develop distributed

energy assets (generation, storage and demand management) at community and individual building level. Development of

a new overall control system architecture is the missing link which will allow the full economic value of both of these sets of

investment to be realised.

This project will investigate the feasibility of a technology solution designed to optimise a number of smart community

electricity networks across a locality. The technology is a control solution (supported by storage) designed to fit within a

novel distributed control architecture for energy networks. It applies networked ICT solutions at substation level and uses

intelligent predictive algorithms adapted from those used in telecommunications network management. The solution builds on existing work to develop community control algorithms for individual 'smart grids' (for example covering individual

business parks or housing developments) and aims to provide a robust and secure 'middleware' integration layer between

these local 'bottom-up' control systems and the existing distribution network operators and national control system. This is

estimated to release benefits to individual households of up to £300 per year.

The fundamental proposition of this project is that a technical solution is feasible which will enable the shift to this new

overall architecture. This solution takes the form of an integrated package of control and communications technologies

installed on electricity distribution networks (with appropriate management algorithms and almost certainly supported by

access to local storage)- largely at substation level but working in a co-ordinated way across a locality (sub-region or city)

and analogous to the way telecommunications networks are managed. Such a solution will enable more flexible trading and

regulatory arrangements between local smart grids and hence support the realisation of the full economic value of demandside


The solution will provide a distributed control capability that optimises and manages multiple local smart grids, without

imposing additional costs on system users that exceed the benefits generated. Analogous to the technical infrastructure

that supports the internet, the solution will provide a resilient control infrastructure able to accommodate many and varied

types of local smart grid.

The key distinction between our proposed solution and centralised control systems is that individual sub-systems (i.e., local

smart grids and substations) will communicate with each other and optimise outcomes locally before having to engage

upwards with the national system. Our solution will develop the algorithms and define the supporting package of control,

protection and storage technologies to make this possible in a way which satisfies the needs of both the DNOs and national

system operator (and potentially replaces existing SCADA control systems).

Similar (but centralised) solutions currently exist for the electricity networks at national level but are prohibitively expensive

(an initial estimate is that it would cost £40k per substation simply to mimic national management algorithms locally).

This project will explore the technical feasibility of developing a packaged solution at substation level that costs less than

£5000 per substation to deliver at least the same functionality, but with considerably increased flexibility and resilience. The

primary advantage of effective distributed control and management in this context is that it will make it significantly easier to

innovate on the demand side, enabling local optimisation and more varied smart grid approaches to develop locally.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.aston.ac.uk