Considering eight aspects of systems integration to identify risks, the readiness of solutions and your team’s ability to deliver

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Think like a systems engineer to accelerate Net Zero innovation

To achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, the transformation of the energy system needs to consider whole energy system and the integration previously separate systems.

Both the physical parts of the energy system electricity, gas, heat and transport, as well as digital, market and policy systems.

Energy Systems Catapult has developed a framework called “Aspects of Integration” to encourage systems thinking with innovators and to open up some of the benefits that systems engineering can offer.

We looked across many different industries, including defence and aerospace, to bring together a framework to support the energy sector when it comes to identifying risks around system integration.

There are eight different aspects we believe are key when thinking how an innovative solution can fit into the existing and evolving energy system and its environment.

The 8 Aspects of Integration

Technology

Availability and readiness of any new or existing technology required for the solution, and its manufacture, installation and commissioning.

Operation

Operation, Support and Maintenance of the solution. Disposal and Decommissioning or Withdrawal from service at the end of the planned lifetime. Reliability and Quality (continuous improvement) during the planned lifetime.

People

Consumer and cultural impact and readiness. Integration of human factors for operation and support of the solution. Training Needs. Job creation. Actors include people, companies, government and communities.

Information

Availability, accessibility and security of any new or existing information required for the solution, and its management and operation.

Infrastructure

Availability and readiness of any new or existing infrastructure required for operation or support of the solution.

Interoperability

Ability of the solution to work in harmony with current or planned parts of the WES and interrelated (sibling) solutions at the ‘system of systems’ level to meet local and national level objectives.

Commercial

End to end order, manufacturing & logistics process in place. Price & profit sustainability. Resilient to market fluctuations (exchange rates, competitor offerings).

Legislation

Compliance with existing or planned policy, legislation and regulation. Need for any new or changed policy, legislation and regulation.

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Innovating for the Energy System - Aspects of Integration | Energy Revolution Integration Service

Case Studies

REFLEX Orkney

The ReFLEX Orkney project is aiming to integrate electricity, transport and heat networks in the Scottish Islands, using advanced software to balance supply and demand.

Energy Systems Catapult has supported the project with systems integration support by applying the Aspects of Integration framework to help develop their Basis of Design.

  • The Basis of Design document is a record of the major thought processes and assumptions supporting design decisions made to meet the project’s requirements, together with reference to constraints such as national and international Codes and Standards.

Using the AoI framework to explore the solution architecture it was recognised that a separate design team needed to be established to take ownership of the integrated energy system design.

The design team consisted of members from each of the eight project partners with a variety of skill sets and levels of experience on the project. Therefore developing a common language to discuss a complex project was vital.

The team went on to develop an initial project Basis of Design, drawing upon Catapult systems thinking and facilitation, training in Model Based Systems Engineering and an introduction to the Enterprise Architecture software.  In the three months following its inception, the design team was able to develop a basic system model using systems engineering software and use the results to inform the Basis of Design, which was accepted by the funder UKRI as a project deliverable.

“Integrated systems thinking helped the design team question, visualise and structure a common understanding of the ReFLEX Integrated Energy System, and what the model should contain in terms of actors, assets, interfaces, ontology, etc.

“This has given the team a firm foundation for further refining the Integrated Energy System (IES) model, fostering a common understanding within the wider ReFLEX project team, and potentially replicating the IES model nationally and internationally.”

Mike Holgate, Aquatera

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Offering independent systems engineering expertise and analysis to identify risks, the readiness of solutions and your team’s ability to deliver.

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