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Urban energy rhythms: making smarter infrastructure by considering system flexibility

Active management of energy demand will be an essential part of our future smart cities, and as a consequence, fundamental assumptions must be reflected in system design from the outset.

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University of Reading

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Urban energy rhythms

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Energy engineering

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October 2016 - October 2020

Client needs

Improve the environment

improve environmental sustainability by enabling further penetration of renewable energy and the electric transport systems

Reduce costs

drive to reduce operational energy costs

Business opportunities

potential to explore new business opportunities


improving the security of energy supply

Research focus

The initial focus of the research is to explore the benefits of an energy storage system within an urban city and to assess the most suitable location considering system characteristics. Further research will investigate energy demand and supply patterns of distinct energy assets and provide best scenarios for infrastructure planning. Business cases will also be investigated within the smart grid network.

Rapid increase in global energy use and growing environmental concerns have prompted the development of clean and alternative energy technologies. The UK energy system is evolving from a centrally controlled, vertically integrated grid to a liberalised open system. With significant penetrations of distributed generation anticipated, increased flexibility is needed to manage the unpredictability and variability of intermittent generation and deliver system stability.

Over the recent years, large energy demand customers have participated in demand side response schemes to help balance the system, however this will become more complex to manage and predict in the future if the variability of energy demand assets is not addressed. Network operators expect to see rapid use of new forms of energy assets such as electric vehicle charging stations, energy storage, hydrogen and electric heating solutions.

Network operators currently manage overloaded assets by providing reinforcement. Although this measure assists in improving their lifespan, it could also become a problem as some of these assets will be under used. This then leaves key questions as to why network equipment are under used? or can the usage rates of these assets be increased by smart location and control? Therefore, should under used assets be made redundant or should asset management be improved?

Our researchers are involved in developing the ITSES project, which examines the feasibility of installing a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems at Old Oak Common and Park Royal, west London. More than 25,000 homes and 55,000 jobs are due to be created at Old Oak Common over the next 15 years, alongside a transport super-hub with new Crossrail and over-ground stations as well as a potential HS2 station all close to each other. Making an interesting combination of urban energy assets.

Contact and social

Tim Embley

Knowledge and innovation manager
01628 842444
[email protected]