Making connections: Bristol academics at UK-Japan smart grids workshop

Making connections: Bristol academics at UK-Japan smart grids workshop

Researchers from the University’s Centre for Communications Research (CCR) visited Osaka, Japan recently to present details of the UK’s progress on ‘smart energy’ to the UK-Japan Smart Grids and Smart Communities Workshop.

The event, organised by the British Consul for Science and Technology and supported by UK Trade & Investment , was opened by Lord David Howell, Foreign Office Minister, who highlighted the global challenges concerning efficient energy usage and the role of ’smart’ technologies in addressing them.
The term ‘smart grid’ refers to the complete system that uses information and communication technology (ICT) to manage the entire electric energy chain, from generation to consumption. It is hoped that research will contribute to significant savings against the projected 200-250 billion expenditure for upgrading the UK’s national electricity grid in the next 10-15 years.

The electricity grid is probably the largest distributed ’machine’ in the UK. Until now, it has been managed centrally, and high reliability and availability is only achieved by significant - and increasingly expensive - overprovision. The smart grid proposals would change the current supply model from a demand-led one, to one where various processes actively manage the demand so that it follows the available generating capacity. This is particularly important in view of the significant forecasted use of renewable energies, such as solar, wind or tidal power.

Professor Joe McGeehan of the CCR outlined the challenges of designing, test and standardising components that will produce an integrated smart metering and grid management system in ways that meet energy network requirements, while protecting the security and privacy of the consumers.

Researchers in the CCR, in collaboration with EDF Energy, EDF R&D, BT and Digital Living, have been developing large-scale simulation platforms to understand the interactions that arise when such a large system is put in place (a project, entitled CLEVER, which follows on from the EU ETHOS project (1996), in which the CCR initially investigated smart metering). Dr Dritan Kaleshi reported on the work of the project team and invited collaborators to use the platform for testing different deployment scenarios for smart metering and smart grid energy management algorithms.

The project team hopes to organise a similar workshop in Bristol with a view to inviting further collaborators from local industry and Bristol City Council.

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