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The Infrastructure and Supply theme conceptualises, develops and demonstrates integrated energy system models and covers both energy conversion technologies and supply infrastructure. The models that we are developing consider both temporal and spatial characteristics and combine both strategic and operational aspects.
The overall objective is to understand the optimisation opportunities that arise from the consideration of multiple energy vectors as well as demand flexibility (linking with Behaviour, Practices and Demand) simultaneously, in the context of affordable, secure, low-carbon energy systems. These include the ability to store energy in different forms and to interconvert energy vectors at different locations and at different scales. These topics become particularly interesting when intermittent power generation and low carbon heat supply requirements are required in material quantities.

Research questions

Our main approach is to develop models considering various components at appropriate levels of fidelity, with important spatial and temporal information relevant to the UK, to assist in answering questions such as:
1.  What system-wide benefits accrue from simultaneously optimising multiple energy vectors and associated infrastructures? How does this approach provide new opportunities for system operation and design, including flexible demand and energy storage?
2.  What is the effect of different energy policy portfolios on the evolution of system design? Which policies support evolution towards least societal cost solutions and which give unintended consequences? 
3.  How to balance strategic and incremental investment in energy infrastructure under uncertainty? What are the near-term options for investment which provide good hedges against future uncertainties? 
4.  What are the values of different technologies and demand flexibility at the system level, and how sensitive is this to the temporal and spatial characteristics of technologies?

What we are doing

Development of spatio-temporal energy system models
Spatio-temporal models account for dynamics and spatial dependence of system properties and are very important when modelling energy systems.  This is because energy demands are not uniformly distributed and exhibit significant variations with time.  Equally, primary energy resources are often localised and intermittent in availability (e.g., wind power).  In order to deploy assets strategically, it is important to understand the impact of different decisions relating to the location of energy generation, energy storage and transportation.  Without a model that explicitly accounts for these spatial and temporal dependencies, it will not be possible to discriminate between alternative energy provision strategies (for example choosing between centralised generation with large transportation networks and distributed generation with lower transportation costs) or account for the dynamic nature of demands and resource availability.  By considering the dynamics, appropriate energy storage policies can be determined. Temporal aspects are also necessary for longer term planning and strategic decision making.


HSC (Hydrogen Supply Chain) Model
The Hydrogen Supply Chain model is a pathway-based model of a future hydrogen supply chain network that is capable of producing, distributing, storing and dispensing hydrogen to end users. The network is represented by a mathematical model which is formulated as an MILP optimisation problem. The objective of the model is to minimise the total cost of the network taking into account both capital investment and operating cost. The model is spatially-dependent (Great Britain is divided into 34 regions) and includes different time scales (2015-2044 in 6-year time steps; 4 seasons; 4 intraday, i.e., 6-hr periods).

Biomass Value Chain Model (BVCM)
Bioenergy may play a strong role in the coming decades if the UK is to meet its climate change mitigation target. The Biomass Value Chain Model has been developed with the aim of understanding how bioenergy systems can be implemented without negative sustainability-related impacts. The BVCM can be used to determine a bio-energy roadmap to 2050 given a particular scenario. The model supports decision-making around land use, interactions with food production and acceleration of bioenergy technologies, while ensuring that a range of sustainability measures are quantified and that minimum standards can be guaranteed. For example, it determines the optimal allocation of crops to the available land and the optimal choice of conversion technologies in order to provide energy in the form of electricity, heat or transport fuels, along with any transport networks required.

Technology and Urban Resource Network (TURN) Model
The Technology and Urban Resource Network model is a generic model for designing optimised integrated urban energy systems and allows one to model any form of energy/resource network. Resources can represent primary energy resources, intermediates and even wastes.  The technologies represent any type of facility that can convert one or more input resources to one or more output resources.  It is also possible to model renewable resources using the TURN. Given a set of demands, the optimisation model selects from the many possible solutions one (or more) that meets a particular objective, such as minimising cost or CO2 emissions, or maximising energy efficiency.