Adapting our energy systems is more than just of an academic interest!

Adapting our energy systems is more than just of an academic interest!

By Simon Sjenitzer, EnergyREV Industry Roving Champion and BD Director - Surveying & Asset Management and Energy & Climate Change, WYG

Aldous Huxley’s book ‘Brave New World’ charts a dystopian future World State, where social hierarchy is intellect based.  Now I’m not drawing any comparisons you understand but being the sole industry representative in a sea of academic low carbon excellence automatically makes me a disruptive protagonist!

The Industrial Strategy white paper published late 2017 set out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK.  A key enabler is the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).  The fund is a core pillar in the government’s commitment to increase funding in research and development by £4.7 billion over 4 years to strengthen UK science and business.  It is investing in the world-leading research base and highly-innovative businesses to address the biggest industrial and societal challenges today.

Under the ISCF strand of Prospering from the Energy Revolution (PFER), smart local energy systems can intelligently link energy supply, storage and use, and power heating and transport in ways that dramatically improve efficiency. It is a huge market opportunity, with $2 trillion a year estimated to be invested in global energy infrastructure.

EneryRev is a unique concept funded under PFER.  It brings together some of the best UK based research capability on a number of key topics required to smooth our transition from dumb centralised energy systems to distributed Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES).  What is so interesting (and challenging) is that this project is multi-disciplinary and far more flexible than normal research projects.  BEIS and UKRI would like EnergyRev to be the ‘go-to’ project for innovators, developers and investors alike wanting to obtain knowledge across a broad range of themes that will give them confidence to test new business models.

I have to confess at this stage that there is currently no single coherent definition of what SLES is, but essentially we can all agree that decentralised, intermittent and varying power generating capacities need to have more intelligent systems built-in to match equally varying localised power demands from all consumers whether they be industrial or domestic.  All merrily buzzing away in the background at around 50HZ under the safe and secure guardianship of National Grid and our District Network Operators.

 So why am I so interested in being part of EnergyRev?

Because it’s actually about the economy, our society and the environment in which we all have to live.  It’s about how we transition from where we are today towards compliance with future carbon budgets and of course, ‘Net Zero 2050’.  There will be new business model opportunities and risks along the way, so being part of a research project that will help identify future emerging trends and innovations is, to me, the best way that to keep informed.

As the EnergyRev ‘Industry Roving Champion’, I’m going to do what I can to ensure the academic work is challenged to ensure that it doesn’t lose track of the original economic purpose of the Industrial Strategy and that the work is communicated in a fashion that industry understands and can invest in.

Helping in a small way to save our planet is a happy consequence of this work, and as observed by my son a couple of weeks ago when asked by me why he was also keen to know more about EnergyRev, “Because 2050 is only 30 years away and it seems to me that nobody can tell us how we are going to get there!”

A good point well made, son.