Applying world-class systems thinking to the hardest Net Zero challenges across Government, industry and communities
Systematically engineering an end to emissions across the whole system
Energy Systems Catapult applies the principles of systems engineering to help define and deliver the future energy system alongside government, regulators, academia and industry.
Systems Engineering is an interdisciplinary, whole life-cycle approach that helps to cope with complex problems by challenging assumptions; managing real world issues; to produce the most efficient, economic and robust solutions to the needs being addressed.
By using Systems Engineering, project costs and timescales are managed more eﬀectively by having greater control and awareness of the project requirements, interfaces, and the consequences of changes.
As an expert, independent, technology-agnostic organisation, we work to integrate the disparate physical, digital and market systems, against the background of rapid technological and societal change.
Through a structured approach to managing risk, lowering costs and accelerating implementation, we have developed a range of capabilities and tools that support the full lifespan of an integrated system solution.
This allows us to help businesses integrate new products and services to open markets, focus investments, create jobs and deliver export opportunities.
What we offer
Energy Systems Catapult uses systems engineering to capture opportunities and remove barriers to the physical, digital and market integration of zero carbon innovations across the whole energy system.
Power Systems Engineering
Applying whole systems thinking to provide unbiased and independent expertise and insight into electricity transmission and distribution networks
Integrating innovations and systems, considering: technology, people, policies, regulation, business models, market mechanisms and more.– optimising for performance, schedule and cost.
Dynamic Energy System Architecting
Methodology for industry, academics and government to co-develop the future energy system architecture, bringing together physical, market and digital systems, services, and people into a coherent whole.
Dynamic Energy System Simulation
Groundbreaking EnergyPath® Operations simulation tool assesses system design choices, business models and digital solutions for future system architectures.
Aspects of Integration
Considers eight different areas of systems integration to support projects to identifying risks and the readiness of their solutions, and the project team’s ability to deliver them.
Electricity Networks Commissioner
Energy Systems Catapult chair, Nick Winser, was appointed as Electricity Networks Commissioner in July 2022 by Rt Hon Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and tasked with providing advice to Government on how to reduce the time it takes to deliver transmission infrastructure in Britain.
The challenge was that the electricity transmission network requires upgrading and expanding to connect renewable generation and support decarbonisation. It currently takes up to 14 years to build new transmission infrastructure. The objective was to identify and recommend areas where the end-to-end delivery process could be shortened by 3 years, and ideally by half.
The Commissioner was supported by a detailed companion report by Energy Systems, including:
- Mapping the end-to-end process using a System Engineering approach.
- Identifying 8 key challenge themes where time could potentially be saved.
- Engaging with over 200 stakeholders from 15 organisations, including Governments, Transmission Owners and Ofgem to identify and refine options for process change.
The Commissioner final report with 18 recommendations, supported by the Catapult companion report, found:
- Current timescales of 12-14 years for building new electricity transmission lines can be reduced to seven years to help deliver energy security and Net Zero.
- It was vital that clean, secure, affordable electricity from 50GW of new wind and 24GW of new nuclear must reach homes and businesses.
- “Open, transparent and efficient” engagement with communities and people about impact of new transmission infrastructure is key.
Network Cold Start
Energy Systems Catapult collaborated with UK Power Networks (UKPN) under Network Innovation Allowance funding to investigate the behaviour of domestic electricity consumers and the distribution network supplying them under a Cold Start scenario in 2030.
With electrification of heating and transport expected to be at far higher level in the next decade, an extended power outage under severe weather conditions would lead to a sudden demand surge to levels far higher than normal peak levels as electrical devices are reactivated.
Using an innovative Dynamic Energy Systems Simulation tool, our Systems Engineering team created dynamic models using a portion of real electricity network to understand the physical impacts of fault conditions on energy assets and appliances within the network under different outage scenarios. A range of metrics were produced, including power flows, voltages, loading and balancing.
The results will allow UKPN to identify:
- Network areas with high risk of adverse effects from power restoration after Cold Start.
- Mitigation measures such as operational policies, network controls, demand-side flexibility and conventional reinforcement.
- Explore novel mitigation methods based on in-home appliance flexibility.
Milford Haven : Energy Kingdom systems architecture
The Milford Haven: Energy Kingdom (MH:EK) project is focused on developing diverse, local markets to support the transition to hydrogen and renewables for the major energy infrastructure cluster along the Milford Haven Waterway in Wales.
Large scale hydrogen markets could provide an essential cross-vector system balancing and inter-seasonal energy storage for an energy system dominated by the UK’s abundant renewables, especially offshore wind and marine resources. This gas to hydrogen transition may be built out from the UK’s critical natural gas infrastructure.
As the UK’s largest energy port, Milford Haven is an industrial cluster that can handle 30% of total UK gas demand. Facilities include South Hook Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal, Dragon LNG terminal, RWE’s 2.2GW gas-fired power plant, and National Grid’s pipeline that connects the Milford Haven Waterway with other assets like Grain LNG terminal, in Kent, and St Fergus gas terminal, Aberdeenshire.
MH is also home to Europe’s largest gas power station powering 3.5 million homes and businesses, with ambitions to build 90MW of floating offshore wind, it supports 5,000 jobs and injects £324m to the Pembrokeshire economy.
MH:EK Detailed Design was an initial two-year deliverable exploring what a decarbonised smart local energy system could look like for Milford Haven, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock.
Energy Systems Catapult Systems Engineering team investigated local renewable energy, including solar, onshore wind, future offshore wind and biomass for decarbonised gas transition; diversified seed markets for hydrogen across buildings, transport and industry; consumer trials of fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen-ready heating systems.
Central to the project, and to achieving Net Zero, was a commitment to engage with the community and local industry – covering energy generation and storage, transport, import, export and right through to end users – providing insight and opportunities for growth.
The MH:EK Detailed Design presented a novel system architecture that was developed allows integration from national to local network levels, and future integration of major natural gas infrastructure and current and future large-scale hydrogen infrastructure.
The final design included:
- Hydrogen-ready features and technologies built into the Port’s housing, commercial and renewables projects and will allow local people to test real-world hydrogen vehicles and home heating equipment.
- Transport solutions for Pembrokeshire’s 4.2 million annual tourists
- H2 production from curtailed onshore wind and solar generators
- Improving off-take markets for offshore renewables in the South-Western Approaches, including the consented Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone (PDZ).
The detailed design also featured a flexibility trading platform to lower costs for consumers using hydrogen-ready hybrid heat pumps and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and to help lift constraints on local development of solar wind and offshore renewable power generation.
The project will help to define designs of future energy system architectures, combining: technology, the interconnectivity between them and data; with markets, trading platforms and policies; with business models and defined organisational governance.
Cost Reflective Pricing
The Cost Reflective Pricing project investigated whether or not the fixed costs on energy bills – for network, environmental and social costs – are efficiently distributed between the standing charge and unit (per kWh) price of electricity and gas tariffs.
With these fixed costs currently recovered from the unit price, this means consumers that use more energy will pay more for the same fixed costs.
The study found that overall consumers are:
- Under-charged for the fixed costs of making energy supply available and over-charged for the units of energy they consume;
- Consumers with household generation technologies (such as solar PV) will buy fewer units of energy from the grid, so under-paid their fair share of fixed costs. Which must then be recovered in the bills of other consumers, including those in fuel poverty, increasing others energy bills.
- Consumers with household demand technologies (such as heat pumps) will buy more units of energy from the grid, so over-paid their fair share of fixed costs recovered in the unit price.
The Cost Reflective Pricing study found that rebalancing fixed and volumetric charges into the standing and unit prices respectively and moving environmental and social costs to general taxation, would more recover fixed costs more efficiently. As a result, the marginal cost of operating a heat pump would be lower than a gas boiler.
Following this study, Ofgem made some initial changes to charging consistent with the argument that network charges should have a larger fixed component and a smaller per kWh charge.
How to work with us
We are not-for-profit, independent and technology-agnostic – building a trusted track record of delivering thought leadership, collaborative R&D and commercial commissions – so are uniquely placed to take on the challenges that others cannot tackle.
Collaborate with us: We work with partners from the public and private sectors to secure funding and collectively deliver the innovation projects and thought leadership that tackle the hardest challenges in the way to Net Zero.
Commission us: We offer independent support, evidence and insights – with technical, commercial and policy expertise – to identify and deliver Net Zero innovation priorities. Then actively support clients to develop actionable plans for implementation.
If you are interested in working with us, contact us by completing the form and one of the team will be in touch.Contact us
Want to know more?
Find out more about how Energy Systems Catapult can help you and your teams
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Want to know more?
Find out more about how Energy Systems Catapult can help you and your teams