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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W034204/1
Title: NetworkPlus - A green, connected and prosperous Britain
Principal Investigator: Dudley-McEvoy, Professor SEM
Other Investigators:
Nekovee, Professor M Strbac, Professor G Buchanan, Dr K
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: School of Engineering
Organisation: London South Bank University
Scheme: Network
Starts: 01 March 2022 Ends: 29 February 2024 Value (£): 1,095,912
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Urban & Land Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
09 Dec 2021 Sustainable Urban Systems and Infrastructure Network Plus Expert Panel Announced
18 Jan 2022 Sustainable Urban Systems and Infrastructure Network Plus Interview Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The impending rollout of 5G offers significant opportunity to reassess how to build, operate and manage networks in a smart, strategic way providing connectivity and mobility equity across the UK. For example, implementing radio energy saving solutions by leveraging energy-saving software, operators can reduce radio equipment energy consumption by up to 15% with smart algorithms in the equipment sending parts of the system to sleep when not in use. When added with other telco strategies and renewable energy systems, such as locally placed microgrids this offers amazing potential for zero-carbon connectivity egress.

The greatest potential for the mobile sector is to help other sectors evolve (with end user demand and mobility) reduce their carbon emissions through digitisation and "smartisation," key enablers for low carbon connected digital infrastructure. Research has shown this enables carbon reductions in other sectors that are 10 times larger, equivalent to approximately 4% of global emissions. These reductions are from two mobile telecommunications technologies: (1) Smartphone users and (2) Smart connected IoT devices. Based upon current projections for the increase in smartphone users and the rise in smart connected IoT devices, the impact of such an enablement could double by 2025. However, this requires cross-sector innovation and investment to accelerate digital transformation to support decarbonisation and connectivity, particularly at the demand side.

The energy sector is a powerful example of the benefits from greater integration with communication. Most electricity grids are heavily centralised, comprising many large-scale energy-generation facilities, often analogue-controlled, and with facilities brought online manually at times of peak demand. Achieving net-zero requires widespread renewable energy use, which will be decentralised, buildings (and users) are no longer just consumers of energy, but also producers - referred to as prosumers. Prosumers must proactively manage the supply of, and demand for, energy. Renewable energy may be reliable and predictable but is inherently intermittent. This will need to be managed with battery storage and by smoothing the energy demand curve. Central to this will be mobile connectivity, along with cloud services and application platforms to create smart energy systems. Research hitherto states that smart energy systems could prevent overbuild of capacity worth 16,000-terawatt hours of annual generation which, based on today's electricity prices, could save $1.9 trillion per year by 2050.

More importantly, compared to today's energy mix, this could save 7.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to more than 23 per cent of global decarbonisation. State of the art in this area has delivered models separately integrating telecommunications and carbon emissions; energy systems and mobility; carbon and energy systems; and user behaviour and mobility. However, a top-level model integrating this has yet to be achieved. The value proposition generated from this network is for a massively integrated urban-rural model, comprising real-time applications for enriching sparse measurement data through the application of digital-twins informed by real data; scenario simulation appropriate to validate and refine policy for future energy, telecoms, mobility and carbon systems; benchmarking of digital communications and net-zero innovations at the pilot study stage. This project builds a research network of international significance, tasked with developing such a model, promoting its existence and applications to a diverse audience, incubating and accelerating innovations, and establishing itself as a sustainable ongoing working group. Surrounding this will be a focus on the training and skills needs across sectors to ensure a reliant and buoyant jobs market, populated with appropriately skilled and ready to work staff from across the UK in preparation for rising labour demands.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.lsbu.ac.uk