Briefing Paper: Impacts of COVID-19 on the Energy System

Empty motorway leading to power plant

In March 2020, the spread of COVID-19 sent Britain into lockdown. Businesses, industry and schools were closed and millions of people were confined to their homes. The sudden and unprecedented shift in work and travel patterns had significant impacts on our energy system, presenting unique challenges to the operators of our electricity grid. 

In this Briefing Paper, we investigate how electricity demand changed at both household and national levels during lockdown and detail the measures that were taken to keep the lights on across Britain. With new research from the IDLES Programme at Imperial College London, the paper draws lessons about managing a low-carbon electricity grid and offers recommendations on how behavioural changes, such as long-term remote working, could be helpful in reaching our carbon emissions targets.

Authors: Amy Trask, Dr Kathryn Wills, Prof. Tim Green, Dr Iain Staffell, Orson Auvermann, Quentin Coutellier, Dr Mirabelle Muûls, Dr Jeffrey Hardy, David Morales Rodriguez, Dr Ralf Martin, Dr Aruna Sivakumar, Dr Jacek Pawlak, Dr Ahmadreza Faghih Imani, Dr Luis Badesa, Prof. Goran Strbac

Click here to download this Briefing Paper.

White Paper: Net-zero GB electricity: cost-optimal generation and storage mix

This White PaperThis White Paper explores cost-efficient portfolios of generation and storage technologies that could achieve a net-zero carbon emissions electricity system for Great Britain. The report identifies the scale of investment needed in various technologies and examines how system configuration and investment changes in light of variations in the cost of available technologies and the availability of flexibility. The findings presented were reached via a Whole-electricity System Investment Model (WeSIM) that balances long-term investment decisions against short-term operation decisions, across electricity generation, transmission, and distribution.

Authors: Dr Marko Aunedi, Dr Kathryn Wills, Prof. Tim Green, Prof. Goran Strbac

Click here to download this White PaperThe datasets behind all of the charts in this White Paper are available for download here.

How do we prepare the UK for a zero-carbon future?

Smart grid graphicMembers of the IDLES team have produced a brochure through the educational company Futurum, aimed at 15-19 year olds, describing whole energy system analysis. It features input from each of the six project areas, includes insights on career pathways, an activity sheet and a case study from Dr Iain Staffell on 'What Drove Britain's Decarbonisation?'.

Click here to download the brochure