Centre for Integrated Renewable Energy Generation and Supply
The UK is increasingly looking to sources other than the burning of fossil fuels in large centralised power stations to meet the country’s energy needs. The UK’s supply of fossil fuels is depleting and it is essential to find more environmentally-friendly alternatives.
The Centre for Integrated Renewable Energy Generation and Supply (CIREGS) was established in 2008 as a multidisciplinary engineering group with international expertise in both the generation and transmission of energy. It aims to meet the challenges of moving towards more extensive use of renewable energy resources.
Our research is organised into 3 main areas (Smart Grid, Energy Infrastructure, and Power Electronics & HVDC) although with considerable cross-fertilisation and interactions between them.
The Smart Grid is an opportunity to move the energy industry into a new era of low-carbon reliability, affordability and efficiency that will contribute to economic and environmental stability.
Through the wide-scale use of intelligence, Smart Grid is the cost-effective way to allow integration of the actions of all users connected to the energy networks - generators, consumers and those that do both - in order to deliver sustainable, economical and secure electricity supply.
A Smart Grid employs communications, intelligent monitoring and control in order to:
- facilitate the connection and operation of many generators and energy sources;
- enable demand to play a part in optimising the operation of the system;
- extend system balancing into distribution networks and the home;
- provide consumers with greater information and choice of supply;
- reduce the environmental impact of the total energy supply system;
- provide security of supply.
A particular focus of our research is to move the ideas of the Smart Grid beyond electricity to include other energy vectors i.e. gas, heat and cooling.
Our expertise and activities in this area with European Union, EPSRC and industry funding include:
- Concepts and methodologies to manage a large number of distributed energy resources: Micro Grid, CELL, Virtual Power Plant, Virtual Energy Storage, and Peer to Peer Networks;
- Multi-time-scale, multi-granularity and multi-system modelling and alternative large-scale distribution system simulation techniques for smart distribution network operation and planning;
- Distribution network operating strategies to mitigate network constraints taking into account uncertainties of load, distributed generation, network topology and Smart Grid interventions. These include:
- Control philosophies and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) infrastructure for the Smart Grid
- Self-healing networks through automatic network reconfiguration
- Novel distribution state estimation methods;
- The role of smart meters and how they can facilitate demand-side response and power system operation;
- Dynamic demand technologies to provide ancillary services for power system operation;
- Multi-agent control of a large number of geographically disparate loads and electric vehicles;
- Cloud-based Virtual Power Plants capable of utilising electricity storage assets from Vehicle to Grid
Energy supply networks are undergoing a radical transformation which includes the introduction of new components, new network configurations, new design and operation philosophies, and new incentives and business models. This revolution is in response to increased energy demand, climate change and fuel security concerns. It is influenced by advances in low carbon technologies including renewable energy technologies and information and communication technologies, and is driven and supported by government energy policies and strategies.
These advances extend to all energy vectors including electric power networks, heating and cooling systems, and gas and hydrogen networks, and the aim is to significantly increase the coupling and interactions between them so as to create efficient multi-purpose, multi-vector energy networks.
The changes are also increasing the need for energy storage and improving the business case for its deployment.
Our research activities and expertise in this area, much of which has received EPSRC and industry funding, include:
- Studies of interactions and interdependencies of multi-vector energy networks and development of integrated analysis and optimisation methods;
- Modelling of combined GB gas and electricity transmission networks;
- Green urban energy infrastructure - integrated electricity/gas/heating/cooling systems;
- Optimal hybrid energy flow within a Microgrid;
- EU gas network modelling and the interactions and interdependencies between the GB integrated electricity/gas systems and the EU electricity/gas systems;
- Vulnerability assessment of energy infrastructure;
- Integration of low carbon technologies through multi-vector energy networks and benefit quantification;
- The role of alternative gas/heat resources and gas/heat networks in future integrated energy systems.
Power Electronics & HVDC
Power electronics is a fundamental enabling technology for a broad range of new energy generation and transmission systems and is an internationally-competitive sector of UK industry and academia.
Power electronic systems enable the flexible conversion of electrical energy; wind turbines, photovoltaic arrays and modern industrial motor drives all rely on advanced power electronic circuits, devices and control systems in order to interface with the electrical grid. There has been a rapid take-up of very large-scale power electronic converters, in the form of high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) transmission systems, for the connection of offshore generation into onshore grids.
The group specialises in three core topics:
HVDC: Voltage source converter based high voltage DC (VSC-HVDC) transmission technology, which is particularly suitable for integrating offshore wind power and connecting multiple AC grids. VSC-HVDC will be a key technology for future HVDC grids, such as a pan-Europe SuperGrid.
Industrial Power Electronics: About two thirds of electrical energy used by industry is consumed by various types of electrical machines. Advances in modern power electronic drive and converter systems improve flexibility but also lead to dramatic improvements in energy efficiency.
Automatic Control for Power Systems: The application of control theory, essential for the regulation of industrial processes, and the use of automatic controllers, which has been fundamental for conventional power systems as well as for the integration of renewable energy sources. We investigate and develop efficient control strategies to guarantee system stability, optimum robustness measures and overall performance of HVDC technologies (links and grids) and energy storage systems.
We are a key contributor to a number of major Smart Grid research consortia and so have a wide range of academic and industrial links and collaborators. These links allow us to work in partnership with key stakeholders in the energy sector so as to develop our research portfolio and areas of work in line with industrial and legislative priorities, requirements and policy.
Recent and on-going EU projects include: FENIX, SMART A, DG Grid, MICROGRIDS, More-Microgrids, SEESGEN-ICT, MERGE and P2P-SmarTest. EPSRC projects are: HubNet, Top and Tail, Aura-NMS, and SUPERGEN HiDEF, FlexNet, HDPS, EFES (Ebbs and Flows Energy Systems). We are also leading one UK-China Smart Grid project and contributing to another 3 UK-China and 2 UK-India Smart Grid projects, working with leading research institutions and industry partners in both the UK and overseas.
The academics in the team have contributed to a number of technical books in this area including Smart Grids: Technology and Applications (Wiley, 2012), and Smart Electricity Distribution Networks (CRC, 2016).
We have active research collaborations on Smart Grids with a number of industry partners. Toshiba Europe Telecommunications Research Laboratory funded three PhD studentships to investigate demand side integration technologies and future Peer-to-Peer power networks. We have research projects with National Grid and Open Energi studying dynamic demand technologies and their impact on power system frequency response.
Our team takes a broad approach to the study of energy infrastructure and we investigate electricity, gas and heat networks both individually and as combined systems. We seek to carry out investigation of future energy network options, some of which have not yet been studied in detail.
The team has developed models of individual energy vectors (dynamic and steady state) and combined systems. A variety of tools have been developed that include 1) “CGEN”, a combined model of the gas and electricity transmission networks, which is used to investigate the European and GB energy systems; 2) “Multi-VEN”, a steady-state analysis tool for combined multi-vector energy systems (combined urban electricity/gas/heat/cooling networks) with functions of engineering analysis, emission analysis and financial analysis; 3) “FUTURE-GAS”, a tool to carry out steady-state analysis of gas networks with distributed injection from alternative gas resources (e.g. hydrogen, biogas). These unique tools allow our staff and research students to identify potential threats to energy security and supply and to look for solutions that optimise integration of low-carbon and renewable energy sources.
We are a key contributor to a number of major research consortia including EC FP7 District of Future, UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), EPSRC Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC and MISTRAL), and EPSRC HubNet, in which we are leading the multi energy system theme. The academics in the team have contributed to a number of technical books in this area.
We have active research collaborations on energy infrastructure with a number of industry partners. Dr Mahesh Sooriyabandara, Associate Managing Director, Toshiba Europe Telecommunications Research Laboratory is a visiting Professor to the School. Toshiba Europe Telecommunications Research Laboratory has recently funded a PhD studentship to investigate analysis methods of multi-energy systems.
We have research projects with GTC (an independent utility infrastructure and networks provider) and Electric Corby studying future integrated district energy systems.
We provide technical/economic analysis support to a number of regional and local government projects including Ebbw Vale regeneration project and Barry Island district heating project.
Power Electronics and HVDC
The research team has strong international collaboration links with Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and Institut de Recerca en Energia de Catalunya (Spain); Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium); Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (Denmark); Universidade do Porto (Portugal); Tampere University of Technology (Finland); and Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro and Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (Mexico) ); Illinois Institute of Technology (USA. Academic collaboration is reflected in our research portfolio and publications.
We are a major contributor to large national research groups including EPSRC-funded consortia HubNet. Our research grants reflect the breadth and focus of our work in this area. Current EU projects include: Multi-terminal DC grid for offshore wind (MEDOW, Cardiff University co-ordinates this consortium of 11 partners) and Beyond State-of-the-Art Technologies for Power AC Corridors Multi-Terminal HVDC Systems (BEST PATHS, with 38 partners). Current EPSRC projects include Future Offshore Grid: the High-Voltage Direct Current Challenge (with National Grid); Mitigating the effects of low inertia and low short circuit level in HVDC-rich AC grids (with National Grid); Flexible Power Flow Control in Meshed HVDC Grid (via HubNet) and Frequency Support from Offshore Wind Farms (via HubNet)
The group has active engagement with a number of industrial partners including Parsons Brinckerhoff Power, National Grid, GE Grid Solutions and Scottish Power Energy Networks. Steering and feedback from industry is a core element of our work in this rapidly developing field of research. Students therefore benefit from a dual university and industrial supervision of their PhD projects and many former students have gone on to careers in industry.
Prof Norman MacLeod of PB Power and Prof Carl Barker of GE Grid Solutions are Honorary Visiting Professors to the School of Engineering and provide regular input to staff and students on the latest advances in HVDC technologies and applications.
Senior Lecturer - Teaching and Research
- +44 (0)29 2087 0665
Senior Lecturer - Teaching and Research
- +44 (0)29 2087 0675
Lecturer - Teaching and Research
- +44 (0)29 2087 0370
Lecturer - Teaching and Research
- +44 (0)29 2087 0675