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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P034241/1
Title: Building as a Power Plant: The use of buildings to provide demand response
Principal Investigator: Walker, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Patsios, Dr C
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd Buro Happold Hawkins\Brown Architects LLP
Keepmoat Newcastle City Council Newcastle University
Northern Powergrid Siemens
Department: Sch of Engineering
Organisation: Newcastle University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 August 2017 Ends: 31 March 2019 Value (£): 167,088
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Efficiency Sustainable Energy Networks
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
16 Feb 2017 Energy Feasibility 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The aim of the proposed feasibility study is to evaluate the potential for buildings to provide demand response to electrical networks.

Demand response is a way of managing grid constraints. This work is relevant to the UK's electricity system, since greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets are expected to result in greater use of renewables and greater electricity demand (through electrification of heat and transport loads), both of which impact on the way the electricity grid will operate in the future. The UK Government wishes to support flexibility in the electricity system, and recently requested evidence to support the development of greater flexibility.

Demand response programs typically involve very large demand centres, co-ordinated by National Grid. In this instance we are interested in much smaller loads (which could be grouped together), which could offer services to the local Distribution Network Operator. Buildings can provide significant Demand Side Response capabilities given the nature of the thermal and electrical properties of buildings. This may be particularly useful in urban areas, where the electricity grid may be under greater strain in the future.

Buildings could operate individually, or coordinate with other sites and assets in urban areas to form a Virtual Power Plant.

The building we propose to study is the Urban Sciences Building. The Urban Sciences Building is located on Science Central, a 24-acre physical site being developed in partnership between Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council to provide a smart, sustainable, resilient city which links energy, transport and digital infrastructure in an urban context. The building will be a unique environment and a 'living' laboratory. The Urban Sciences Building is equipped with hundreds of sensors that can measure energy supply and demand. The building incorporates photovoltaic generation and large scale grid-connected battery storage. These two technologies can respond to local network needs for services (e.g. peak-shaving), and also act as a power source for the building in case of loss of mains power (i.e. islanded operation). The building is therefore ideal to study, due to the types of load and generation in the building. The site is also ideal to study, since the network is instrumented and other loads are close by.

The academic team has the necessary skills to deliver the proposed programme of work, since the team has research expertise in buildings, electrical networks and storage. The team also benefit from collaboration with a number of industrial partners, who bring commercial expertise in similar fields. This ensures that project team are aware of the needs of a range of parties including:

Building designers (Hawkins Brown, Buro Happold, NG Bailey)

Building constructors (Bower and Kirkjland)

Building operators (Newcastle University Estates department)

Building Energy Management System provider (Siemens)

Distribution Network Operator (Northern Powergrid)

Site owner and developer (Newcastle City Council)

Site energy service provider (Engie)

Domestic property developer (Keepmoat)

These industry and public sector partners provide direction to the project team through an Advisory Board.

The Urban Sciences Building will be studied in detail, in order to analyse the size of load and generation, the speed of response available, and the potential duration of response. Once this analysis has been completed and the nature of Demand Side Response understood, we will then quantify the benefits for the local and wider networks and their operators. Operating the building to offer a Demand Side Response service will require changes to the management of the building. We will define the criteria for a new Building Energy Management System structure. We also plan to investigate the market barriers and enablers which affect the delivery of Demand Side Response by a single building, or groups of assets.

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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Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.ncl.ac.uk