Imperial College London is leading the UK arm of a global effort to create 100% renewable energy power grids worldwide.
The new Electric Power Innovation for a Carbon-free Society (EPICS) centre, based at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in the US, brings together international partners in the UK, US, and Australia to decarbonise the global energy sector.
The global project is funded by £13 million, with £6.67m going to the UK arm.
A global transition towards net-zero electricity grids is vital to tackle the climate crisis, but there are challenges we need to address to make this happen. Professor Mark O'Malley Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Imperial is leading the UK’s involvement in the centre, which is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and will be working alongside academics at University of Edinburgh, Newcastle University and University of Strathclyde.
The project will provide answers about the innovations and changes needed in today’s power grid management and institutions to meet the demand of a grid with 100 per cent renewable energy that is sustainable, affordable, reliable and resilient.
Professor Mark O’Malley, UK lead of EPICS and Leverhulme Professor of Power Systems at Imperial’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “A global transition towards net-zero electricity grids is vital to tackle the climate crisis, but there are challenges we need to address to make this happen. For example, most renewable energy sources are connected to the grid with power electronics and not synchronous machines, and we do not know how to reliably plan and manage power electronic dominated grids.
“A global collaborative approach with our academic partners and global industry and policy stakeholders from the Global Power System Transformation Consortium, Energy Systems Integration Group, and Future Power Markets Forum is exactly what’s needed to spearhead such an effort. I look forward to working with our global and UK partners to make 100 per cent renewable energy a reality.”
The US efforts, which are led by JHU, are being funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), while the University of Melbourne is leading the Australia contingent, funded by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia.
Professor Ben Hobbs, US EPICS lead at JHU, said: “These countries can collaborate and lead the world in dealing with common challenges, such as integrating grid-scale long-duration energy storage and offshore wind power resources, as well as addressing climate-induced hazards.”
These countries can collaborate and lead the world in dealing with common challenges, such as integrating grid-scale long-duration energy storage and offshore wind power Professor Ben Hobbs EPICS lead at JHU
EPICS will develop computing, economic, engineering, and policy methods and tools to enable a 100 per cent emissions-free power grid. To do this, the researchers will establish a global innovation ecosystem, engaging US, UK and Australian academics and global industry and policy stakeholders.
Dr Jess Britton, who leads the University of Edinburgh’s EPICS input, said: “Transforming energy grids to support 100 per cent renewable energy is a global challenge that will require technical, policy and governance innovations. Demand-side flexibility can play an important role in enabling a decarbonised and resilient energy system and this international collaboration will support acceleration of customer flexibility in an equitable and fair way.”
Professor Keith Bell, who leads the University of Strathclyde’s EPICS input, said: “The physics of electricity and the technologies available to us are the same everywhere, but each country’s power system is unique. This means that challenges and opportunities will emerge in some places before others. A global collaboration like this allows us to share and learn from those experiences, ensuring a smoother and most cost-effective path to a zero carbon energy system.”
EPICS’s research interests are divided into four themes, which will:
- Harness the latest advances in computer technology to enable decision-making tools to handle the unpredictable nature of renewable energy resources like wind and solar.
- Find ways to accommodate wind, solar and storage resources into the grid, which requires learning how to operate large numbers of inverters that connect these resources and the grid.
- Develop economic analysis principles tailored for making decisions about how to design and then reliably operate 100 per cent renewable power grids.
- Use insights from the above efforts to develop strategies for achieving net-zero power grids globally, and use them to reduce and eventually eliminate carbon emissions from other economic sectors, including transportation and buildings.
Global Hydrogen Economy
We’re excited to be part of this Global Centre addressing the challenge of green hydrogen synthesis, which aligns closely with Imperial’s Towards Zero Pollution initiative Professor James Durrant & Professor Nick Voulvoulis Department of Chemistry & Centre for Environmental Policy
Imperial is also involved in a second centre: the Global Hydrogen Production Technologies Center (HyPT), which is led in the UK by Cranfield University in collaboration with Arizona State University, University of Adelaide, and University of Toronto.
The global project is funded with £14.1 million.
HyPT will analyse the social and environmental system changes needed to build a global hydrogen economy, addressing how to make it affordable and looking at the impact production has on local communities and ecosystems. Researchers will also develop pathways to adopt it as a source of energy for energy-intensive and hard-to-abate industries such as ammonia, steel, cement, aluminium, and transportation.
Imperial co-leads Professor James Durrant from the Department of Chemistry, and Professor Nick Voulvoulis from the Centre for Environmental Policy, said: “We’re excited to be part of this Global Centre addressing the challenge of green hydrogen synthesis, which aligns closely with Imperial’s Towards Zero Pollution initiative, and also brings together complementary expertise from our Centres for Processable Electronics and Environment Policy.”
Global Challenges in Climate Change and Clean Energy
Global Challenges in Climate Change and Clean Energy?is an ambitious, novel clean energy and climate change programme led by NSF and being delivered by UKRI in conjunction with like-minded international funders.
The initiative is funding international, interdisciplinary collaborative research on use-inspired themes in clean energy and climate change.
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