Applying whole systems thinking to integrate the physical, market, digital and policy systems for a Net Zero future

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Accelerating the integration of the whole energy system for Net Zero

Transforming the UK energy system to be clean, secure and affordable requires integrating and optimising solutions and innovations from a range of previously separate systems including power, heat, transport, and communications.

Systems Integration is a key component of Systems Engineering, helping to ensure whole system solutions are considered from different perspectives – from technology to people, policies, regulation, business models and market mechanisms.

Integration helps develop approaches, tools, frameworks, methods and skills that support the full life-cycle of an integrated system solution. When applied, we can examine how previously separate systems and operating models can work together with new innovations to deliver integrated, mutually supportive systems, with an appropriate balance between opportunity and risk, considering the views of all relevant parties, and managing the inevitable conflict between them.

Energy Systems Catapult works with government, academia and industry in helping to organise and integrate the physical, informational, operational and economic components of the energy system.

Whole Systems approach

Identify and address Whole System issues, across technology, people, policies, regulation, business models and markets.

Integrating old and new

Enable new and existing solutions to function as a coherent and effective whole.

Considering different perspectives

Ensure focus and balance is applied to stakeholder needs.

Case Studies

Whole Energy Systems Accelerator

The Whole Energy Systems Accelerator (WESA) is a world-first energy innovation test and evaluation facility, enabling interactions between homes, energy networks, and market & policy frameworks to be tested in real-time and across a range of potential future energy system and market scenarios.

WESA combines Energy Systems Catapult’s real world test environment of over 2,000 digitally connected homes – the Living Lab – with the University of Strathclyde’s PNDC, to provide a unique power networks demonstration facility to research, test and accelerate multi-vector energy systems that stimulate the advancement of vital innovations needed to reach Net Zero.

WESA combines the partners’ strong reputations in energy systems innovation across electrical power systems, cybersecurity capabilities, whole energy system expertise, and consumer-focused capabilities. This makes it possible to test the physics, human behaviour, technology, and market aspects of new energy solutions concurrently and rapidly, thereby supporting the creation of a robust and affordable Net Zero energy system that considers consumers’ needs.

WESA works by extracting live data from Living Lab homes involved in an innovation trial wherever they may exist in the UK. The data can be aggregated to simulate a single street or neighbourhood across multiple real network configurations and sent to PNDC – all in real time.

PNDC takes the data and uses a real time digital simulator to demonstrate the impact on different network configurations. While at the same time PNDC replicates those electricity loads on their real-life network test centre near Glasgow – to understand the physical impact on the electricity grid.

Network impact data is then fed into the Catapult’s market emulator, created by our Systems Integration team, which can model various energy system conditions and test out different network charging mechanisms that might be used in future – such as dynamic or RAG pricing.

By combining half-hourly wholesale price data from historic records, with scheduled and DUoS prices – the market emulator produces data on current cost to supply – a price signal to the market.

Homes in the Living Lab trialling innovative demand management solutions – receive the price signal in real-time. This may prompt a change in home energy usage based on tariffs and behaviour parameters agreed by the consumer.

UK innovators will be able to test smart products and services with real consumers to ensure they not only drive down carbon emissions but work with human behaviour to give people a great experience and concurrently with the physics of the energy systems to create robust physical and market systems fit for Net Zero.

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.

Contact us

If you are interested in working with us, contact us by completing the form and one of the team will be in touch.

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