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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W028905/1
Title: Aviation-to-Grid: Grid flexibility through multiscale modelling and integration of power systems with electrified air transport
Principal Investigator: Zhang, Dr X
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Cardiff University Department for Transport Heathrow Aiport Ltd
National Grid ESO Supergen Energy Networks Hub UK Power Networks
Department: Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Organisation: Brunel University London
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 November 2022 Ends: 30 April 2025 Value (£): 391,062
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Storage Sustainable Energy Networks
Transport Ops & Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 Jun 2022 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 8 and 9 June 2022 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Aviation is arguably one of the most difficult sectors to be decarbonised. The UK government's recent Transport Decarbonisation Plan targets for Accelerating Aviation Decarbonisation to reach net zero by 2050, aiming to decarbonise emissions from airport operations in England by 2040, and to support the development of new and zero carbon UK aircraft technology [1]. The Department for Transport's Aviation Strategy recommends electrification as a possible solution to mitigate aviation's carbon emissions [2]. Electrification technologies are being deployed successfully in land-based transport. Electrification is now being challenged to address the more ambitious aviation decarbonisation. In the air, electric and hybrid aircraft particularly for short-haul or regional electric aircraft have advanced rapidly. On the ground, UK airports (Heathrow as a project partner of this proposal) lead pilot decarbonisation projects to enable the transition to regional electric and sustainable aviation, and shape the landscape of future low-carbon infrastructure and services.

Currently, there is a significant disconnect between power systems and electrified air transport in terms of energy users and suppliers, infrastructure and interoperability to achieve the net-zero in both industries. The electrification of aviation will create a new nexus between power systems and electrified air transport. There are several key challenges:

1) The power systems will require electrified aviation to integrate into ground energy infrastructure and must not overload the future grid.

2) Electrified aviation as a new energy user requires the power systems to supply large volumes of low-carbon electricity to meet new loads of electric aircraft.

3) Significant charging infrastructures are required. Our feasibility study on a UK airport indicates that even if only 10% domestic flights are electrified then £50M will need to be spent on charging infrastructure.

4) Significantly high costs will be incurred for building additional power generation capacity. Our initial study indicates 15 GW additional power generation capacity will be required if 45% of UK domestic flights are electrified.

This proposed research will explore the fundamental integration of a new nexus between power system and electrified air transport system, named 'Aviation-to-Grid', with an ambitious aim to bridge the significant disconnect between two systems in terms of energy demand and supply, infrastructure and interoperability. This will be achieved by using the multiscale energy modelling and system integration as key research methods. A new concept of Aviation-to-Grid flexibility will be investigated as a potential solution to unlock the flexibility provisions from Aviation-to-Grid, so that infrastructure and operation costs can be reduced and co-optimised across both systems. This project, for the first time, brings power industry (National Grid ESO), airport operators (Heathrow Airport), energy infrastructure solutions (UK Power Networks Services), transport policy (Department for Transport) and the UK academic communities (Supergen, DTE Network) together in a truly interdisciplinary manner.

In this project, multiscale energy modelling (WP1) and multiscale system integration (WP2) will explore a bottom-up approach across the new nexus of power systems and electrified air transport. Aviation-to-Grid flexibility provisions will be evaluated with cost-benefit analysis (WP3). Industrial application potential of Aviation-to-Grid flexibility will be demonstrated in a real-time simulation platform in the lab using representative case studies with recommendations for implementation (WP4).

[1] Decarbonising transport: a better, greener Britain, Department for Transport, 14 July 2021

[2] Aviation 2050 - the future of UK aviation, Department for Transport, 22 October 2019

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Organisation Website: http://www.brunel.ac.uk