Multi-Energy Systems: the Smart Grid Beyond Electricity

August 3, 2012 - 10:00am
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The Smart Grid is a hot research topic worldwide within the context of delivering a sustainable electricity system at an affordable cost. However, the need to move towards a low carbon future and meet challenging environmental targets calls for rethinking the entire energy system, including the way we provide heating and cooling and the interactions of these sectors along with power systems with fuel chains and renewable resources. In fact, it is now recognized that historical decoupling of energy sectors is inefficient from both operation and planning perspectives. In addition, heating and cooling represent major contributions to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Coupling of electricity, heat/cooling and gas networks through distribution infrastructure is increasingly taking place through various distributed technologies such as combined heat and power (CHP), electric heat pumps, air conditioning devices, trigeneration of electricity heat and cooling, and so on. While these emerging interactions pose significant challenges in terms of modeling and assessment techniques that can cater for integrated energy systems, they also represent an invaluable opportunity for new research. In particular, other energy sectors can somehow provide flexibility to the electricity one (for instance, through thermal storage in heat pumps that can be used to provide frequency control and reserve services by demand response), efficiency can be improved when multiple energy vectors are generated simultaneously (for instance, in CHP plants), and integrated planning of energy networks can be more effective that disaggregated planning (for instance, electricity and heat networks can be more cost effective than electricity and gas networks in urban areas). On these premises, the aim of this presentation is to illustrate the ongoing activities at the University of Manchester in terms of multi-energy systems according to a Smart (Multi-energy) Grid vision.

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