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Wireless charging in the latest iPhones could be a watershed moment for the technology and lead to its adoption in other sectors, industry bosses have claimed.

Professor Ben Potter of the TSBE (Technologies for Sustainable Built Environments) Centre, University of Reading was recently interviewed for the above article; Read it here: I phones and electric vehicles.

The TSBE Centre are currently working with and Anthony Simpson on a project researching ‘Real world considerations for the grid integration of electric vehicles’.

The TSBE Centre, Dr Ben Potter and Dr Phil Coker are running an associated event in October focusing on:

Power system benefits of Electric Vehicles: matching the right solution to the right problem

Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing power system, there is both excitement and concern about the implications of charging a growing fleet of Electric Vehicles (EVs). Though still a small fraction of the overall vehicle market, EV uptake is seeing dramatic growth, with numerous factors coming together that could accelerate this trend. Air quality concerns, in particular, are coinciding with falling battery costs and new vehicle launches, leading to ever more ambitious growth prophecies and policy targets. Such moves are exemplified by France’s recently announced target to end sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. At the same time, concerns are growing about the potential impact that uncontrolled EV charging could have on the safe and secure operation of our local and national power networks.

The University of Reading have been working with energy companies to understand and plan for the energy system challenges brought by increasing adoption of variable renewable generation. One strand of this work lies with mapping practical, real world flexibility solutions to emergent challenges. The role for controlled EV charging lies at the forefront of this research. The University are now seeking to bring together energy industry experience in this area with findings from the latest research into wind and solar energy behaviour, as well as to promote awareness of the importance of choosing when vehicles charge for maximising carbon benefits.

The event will bring together experts from across the energy and automotive industries to explore how controlled charging of electric vehicles can best meet the growing challenges of variability in our power system. Steered by current project partners, the day will involve stakeholders from across the whole energy supply chain, from the automotive sector, from enabling companies and from academia. Participants will hear from the latest research on managing power system variability alongside learning from real world implementation of controlled charging solutions. The event is funded through the University of Reading’s Impact Support Program and supported by Drive Electric, Costain, Energy UK and the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce. Insight will be supplemented by the experience of a diverse range of industry participants including scene setting presentations from Tesla and National Grid as well as early findings from Western Power Distribution’s Electric Nation project.



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TSBE Centre Researchers attend Sustainable Technologies Conference in Bolgna

Last month we attended the Sustainable Energy Technologies conference in Bologna Italy representing the TSBE centre at the University of Reading.  The 16th SET conference was held at the Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna in the Department of Architecture and Engineering.  Tuesday saw me (Kate van Someren) present my higher education classroom lighting and occupancy work looking at carbon emissions, power consumption and hours of operation metrics.  Wednesday saw both Alice Gunn and Saadia Ansari present respectively on modelling power generation in Sheltland against industry and bespoke forecasting tools, and energy use profiles with energy waste analysis in a multi-use venue building.

Saadia presenting with Kate and Alice in the second row to the left of the speaker: Image courtesy of SET

Saadia presenting with Kate and Alice in the second row to the left of the speaker: Image courtesy of SET

The conference was expertly organised by Professor Saffa Riffat Professor in Sustainable Energy and Head of the Institute of Sustainable Energy Technology at the University of Nottingham.  We were welcomed on the first day with plenary sessions from Prof. Ardeshir Mahdavi, Chair of Building Physics and Building Ecology, TU Wien, Vienna (Austria) and Prof AbuBakr Bahaj Head of the Energy & Climate Change Division (ECCD), University of Southampton, Southampton (United Kingdom).  Networking between presentation slots we fostered existing links to the Department of Architecture and Built Environment University of Nottingham with Prof Mark Gillott and Associate Prof Lucelia Rodrigues discussing the difficulty of accessing buildings for collecting energy data.  The conference was good practice for us answering questions relating to our methods and findings prior to our viva examinations.  The University of Bologna was very generous and welcoming, hosting us for our week and we were able to explore the city with organised conference events.

Since returning from the conference both Kate and Saadia are submitting their conference papers as full journal papers to the International Journal of Low Carbon Technologies.


Written by Kate van Someren 25.8.2017



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Electric Vehicles – BBC Radio Berks

Today Dr Phil Coker from University of Reading was interviewed by  Bill Buckley of BBC Radio Berkshire about government plans for electric vehicles by 2040. 

When asked about how the increased demand for electricity will be met,  Dr Coker explained that research was being undertaken into shifting demand of charging vehicles from peak demand times to other times in the day or night when the existing electricity network has excess capacity that could be utilised for electric vehicles.

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TSBE Conference Papers 2017

The papers  written and presented by the doctoral students of the TSBE Centre at the latest conference are available on our website

An overview of our research can be seen by watching our short video .

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TSBE Centre Conference 2017

The conference buzzed with the TSBE Centre’s sustainability research developments, with presentations ranging from’ virtually manipulating landscapes to assess ecological impacts from large infrastructure’ (Katie McCausland & Costain) to ‘Energy storage in power distribution networks by Max Zangers’. The winner of the Research Engineer was Alice Gunn who is in her final year of research and presented her paper entitled ‘stakeholder perceptions of energy system models and their role in policy making’. Alice is sponsored by Scottish & Southern Electric.


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Decision making in complex world – from Royal Marine Major to TSBE EngD students

EngD students at the TSBE Centre had a unique opportunity to gain an insight into the diverse experiences of a Royal Marine and learn how military grade decision making techniques are applied to solve complex situations. Gareth Tennant is a serving Major in the Royal Marines Commandos and he specialises in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance techniques. Building on his experience in combat operations and involvement in development of management strategies for the military, Gareth is now working on delivering information exploitation techniques to the commercial sector to support decision making in the context of increased connectivity of systems and the rapidly growing availability of data.

Turning data into intelligence. Photo by Dr Harrison.

For the TSBE centre, Gareth presented on the different types of problems drawing on examples from his experience on combat operations, highlighting the existence of “black swan” problems – the unforeseen instances of problems with high impact. Using an analogy of climbing a mountain, he explained the difference between strategic direction and tactical application, where strategy is setting the goal of getting to the summit and tactics is the act of climbing.  He then introduced us to practice of operational art, which is how the military ensure that tactical decisions have strategic results. Gareth then presented to the TSBE Centre a framework of 7 factors designed to support decision making through information exploitation: from turning data into actionable intelligence, to developing strategy for making the decision, taking into the account the culture and heuristics within the problem, and ultimately the consequences of the decision.

This thought provoking seminar has laid a foundations for EngD students to adopt some of the hard fought lessons of the military approaches to decision making, in the management of their research and industry projects. Here is what one of the students have said about the seminar:

“It is fascinating to get an insight into experiences of a Royal Marine and learn about how complex problems are dealt with. These techniques offer new approaches to maintaining the long-term objective of the research throughout the EngD and prepare for dealing with challenges and taking opportunities presented by the Big Data as we carryon into industry.“

The TSBE centre is organising further joint activities to enhance the decision making skills of the EngD students and take advantage of the proven information exploitation techniques.

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University of Reading on a mission to reduce carbon emissions

Green targets: The University’s mission to reduce its carbon emissions, and its aims to go further, was the subject of a feature in The Environmentalist magazine. Read our news story here.

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#2017 CIBSE ASHRAE technical symposium

Ana Rodriguez-Arguelles presents at 2017 CIBSE ASHRAE technical symposium on behalf of TSBE Center.

The symposium took place at Loughborough University, under the topic  “Delivering Resilient High Performance Buildings” and aimed to provide evidence of the successful adoption of resilience in the design and operation of buildings.

Ana contributed with the presentation of her conference paper “Sensitivity analysis for small power energy assessments under the TM22 audit framework”, that is available on the CIBSE website as a permanent record, and received positive feedback on her work.

Figure 1: Ana presenting at the2017 CIBSE ASHRAE technical symposium.




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4th LV Workshop and TVCC Energy Seminar – Summary and Slides

We had another successful event! The 4th LV workshop and the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Energy Seminar were held at the University of Reading on the 1st and 2nd of March. This joint event aimed to share recent developments in demand forecasting and energy storage control, and bring the academics and industry together for discussions and collaboration.

The first day presented a number of state-of-the-art modelling and forecasting techniques for the future smart home and grid as well as a fascinating review of how low carbon technologies will affect both the low voltage and national level. We saw how new technologies and human behaviour could can be incorporated into network/household models as well as how forecasts and modelling could be incorporated into networks solutions such as heating control and battery storage.

The second day presented on the role of energy storage from two perspectives: network support for Low Voltage networks and commercial applications. In the morning session presentations provided a unique insight into results from practical applications of energy storage, from DNO-owned units dealing with thermal and voltage constraints (with examples of symbiosis with Vehicle-to-Grid and Dynamic Line Rating) to domestic battery energy storage systems aimed at self-consumption of PV and assisting with the network support. In the afternoon session the participants of the seminar had been given a peak in to the future for energy storage from DNO and research perspective, and an essential money matters for the commercial application of energy storage from experts in energy storage consultancy and an experienced investor.

The summary of the presentations given during the 4th LV workshop and the TVCC seminar are given below:

4th LV workshop

In the continuation of the theme of the previous workshops and close links with the New Thames Valley Vision (NTVV) project, the 4th LV workshop aimed at the academics working on the applied research on demand forecasting techniques and energy storage control in the Low Voltage (LV) networks.

The first day was dedicated to forecasting techniques for power systems, starting with demand forecasts at the national level and then focusing on demand at the LV feeder and house level.

The keynote speaker for the first day, Dr Jeremy Caplin (National Grid), gave an informative and fascinating presentation on the state-of-art forecasting of the electricity demand at the national level, including an insight in to how weather and major events impact both, embedded renewable generation and demand. Particularly, Jeremy noted that the impact from solar photovoltaics (PV) is becoming harder to predict: uptake of PV generation continues to grow but also the actual installed PV capacity have to be estimated.

Dr Stephen Haben (University of Oxford) and Dr Laura Hattam (University of reading) presented on the forecasting techniques for demand and loading from Low Carbon Technologies at the LV level developed for the New Thames Valley Vision (NTVV) project. Stephen’s talk highlighted the complexity of forecasting at the household and the feeder level driven by the range of customer behaviours and the temporal range of the forecast. Laura’s talk focused on forecasting future scenarios for the uptake of Low Carbon Technologies (Electric Vehicles and PVs) in clusters and modelling the uncertainty of their output.

Dr Stuart Galloway (University of Strathclyde) presented on the forecasting of demand for single buildings on LV network, focusing on the analysis of the errors and highlighting the inter- and intra-day correlation of errors. These methods were demonstrated on a number of non-residential buildings.

Dr Florian Ziel (University Duisburg-Essen) presented and compared several short-term forecasting techniques for LV feeders, focusing on how feeder size impacts the accuracy of the forecasts and the sensitivity of forecasts to temperature.

Dr Kavin Narasimhan (University of Surrey) presented how concepts from social practice theory have been applied to agent-based modelling of energy demand at a household level. The concepts are based on three components of social practice (meaning, skill and material), linking the activities with energy usage and validating how the relationships between activities and energy usage change the over years.

Dr Richard Snape (De Montfort University) introduced the SWELL project and presented findings from the demand response trials based on control of electrical heating in response to demand and generation forecasts. The findings highlighted the effectiveness of the chosen demand response business model on benefits for the customers and how customers responded to the trial. Abstract:

“Recent work has highlighted the need for smarter and more localised management of electricity networks, with the UK National Infrastructure smart power report recommending that “Enabling the transition to more actively managed local networks should be a government priority. By Spring 2017 DECC and Ofgem should consult and set out how and under what timeframe this transition should best take place”

This talk presents an approach to managing local renewable generation and load, particularly legacy electrical heating (storage heater) load, in a community energy scheme.  It reports on a recently completed case study project which has installed equipment in 50 buildings to implement such a scheme and record data about usage and the success of local balancing, the community business model and smart controls in combination with resident interaction.  Finally, the talk describes a model incorporating learnings from the project which may be further used to investigate the replicability of this scheme in communities across the UK.”



The second day of the workshop focused on energy storage from two perspectives: energy storage for network support and commercial applications of energy storage (as part of the TVCC energy seminar).

The morning session aimed at the energy storage for the network support. The key note speaker for the session, Nigel Bessant (Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks), have set the scene for the network support session by presenting DNO’s perspective on the energy storage and gave a brief overview of existing innovation projects involving energy storage.

Dr Timur Yunusov (University of Reading), Gideon Evans and Josh Martin (Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks) presented on the development and control of battery energy storage within the NTVV project. Gideon and Josh gave an overview of the project, focusing on the specification requirements for the Energy Storage and Management Units (ESMUs), learning points from the installation and commissioning of the units at the street level, and from the integration of control system into the existing IT environment. Timur focused on the automated control system for the ESMUs, providing the overview of the control methods and results from the trials of control methods on ESMUs installed on LV feeders.

Andreas Procopiou (University of Manchester) presented an overview of the challenges in PV rich LV networks and how actively managing residential PV and battery energy storage systems impacts the operation of PV-rich LV networks. Abstract:

“European countries have promoted through different incentives the use of residential-scale photovoltaic (PV) systems resulting in a significant number of installations in LV networks. However, since LV networks are traditionally designed to cope with demand without controllable elements, with higher PV penetration levels, technical problems such as voltage rise or thermal overload of assets are expected to occur. Indeed, distribution network operators (DNOs) are now required to either proceed with costly network reinforcements (e.g., upgrading transformers, conductors) or transit towards the active management of LV networks which can be an attractive and cost-effective alternative.

In this context, the industrial project “Active Management of LV Networks” funded by Électricité de France R&D and run by The University of Manchester was set to investigate the adoption of active network management techniques to tackle voltage and congestion issues. This talk will present the key findings from two techniques (1) the coordinated control of residential-scale PV systems adopting already embedded power control functions (e.g., Volt-Var, Volt-Watt) and (2) the control of residential-scale battery energy storage systems in a way that provides benefits to both customers (i.e., self-consumption) and DNO (i.e., voltage management). These innovative solutions that require limited network information and observability have the potential to increase the ability of LV networks to host residential-scale PV systems without the need of expensive and time consuming network reinforcements, paving the way for a cost-effective low carbon future.”

Dr David Greenwood (Newcastle University) presented on the recent developments in control techniques for LV networks from the Newcastle University, including results from field trials and laboratory experiments. Abstract:

“In electrical networks, Energy Storage can fulfil multiple functions across a range of voltage levels. The research in this presentation focuses on simulation and control of energy storage in low voltage distribution networks, enabling power flow management, voltage control, and integration of domestic photovoltaic systems. We investigate coordinated control of multiple energy storage systems, and of energy storage in conjunction with demand response. We describe methods for mass simulation of LV networks, and heuristic planning techniques to investigate the location and sizing of storage systems. Our results are validated through energy storage demonstration, carried out as part of the Customer Led Network Revolution project.”


Thames Valley Chambers of Commerce Energy Seminar

The TVCC seminar had a great combination of speakers, representing industry, academia and investors. Audience from the 4th LV workshop was joined by members of the TVCC and the representatives from industry interested in commercial applications of energy storage.

The first presentation was by Dr Ben Potter (University of Reading) on energy storage research highlights. Ben described recent developments in energy storage technologies and costs, followed by two examples of energy storage applications (reducing network connection costs and frequency response). Ben also highlighted that other key factors (i.e. control methods, security and forecasting) play an important role in ensuring that the application of energy storage is successful.

Nigel Bessant (Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks) presented on the role of energy storage from DNO’s perspective, described the importance of energy storage performance and gave a couple of examples how energy storage could perform a key role in DNO to DSO transition.

Dr Matthew Rowe (DNV GL) gave an overview of energy storage on the global stage, highlighting the idea that energy storage could be seen as a disruptive technology with a potential to provide a wide range of applications.

Dr Marek Kubik (AES Corporation) presented on the frequency response application of energy storage at the Kilroot power station, which proven to be more effective than conventional plants in delivering frequency support.

Neal Kalita (Energy Locker) gave an insight from developer’s perspective into the investment process for energy storage, highlighting the key factors to be taken into the account and the key stages in the process of decision making for the energy storage investment.


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Learnings from two DNO innovation projects – the closedown event

Two flagship innovation projects, led by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), have come to a conclusion after 5 years of hard work and persistence.  The closedown event, held at the home of Institution of Engineering and Technology on the 28th and 29th of March, revealed the key learning outcomes on technical, commercial and behavioural aspects from the New Thames Valley Vision (NTVV) and the Northern Isles New Energy Solution (NINES) projects. Two members of the TSBE Centre, Dr Timur Yunusov and Alice Gunn, have been involved in these projects and attended the close down event last week.


Focussing on the low voltage network, the NTVV aimed to demonstrate how electricity distribution networks can better serve their customers by understanding, anticipating and supporting their energy use as they move towards low carbon technologies. Understanding of the customer behaviour was achieved through the deployment of substation and customer monitoring systems: over 300 secondary substations and 250 customers. The gathered data was then used to anticipate the change in customer behaviour through forecasting their demand and their impact on the network through a network modelling environment. The forecasts are also used to inform how the change can be effectively supported through the deployment of energy storage devices (i.e. hot thermal, cold thermal and battery) and automated demand response, compared to the traditional network reinforcement.

Dr Timur Yunusov, who recently joined the TSBE centre as part of the Energy Research Lab, was directly involved in the delivery and analysis of the NTVV project. He played a key role in the development and integration of the control system for battery energy storage and power electronics devices deployed on the Low Voltage electricity distribution network. The control system was developed to automate the operation of the energy storage and power electronics devices, and utilise the short-term forecasts with network monitoring data to optimally support the network operation. The trials of the energy storage and power electronics devices under smart control have demonstrated an improvement on the network operation, projected to be capable of increasing the hosting capacity for the Low Carbon Technologies in low voltage networks.


Taking advantage of the unique challenges of an islanded electricity network, the NINES project focused on increasing hosting capacity and utilising its high wind resource by introducing flexibility in to the network. This was achieved through domestic demand side management and the installation of a 1MW/3MWh lead-acid battery, both controlled through a bespoke Active Network Management solution. The project successfully allowed around 3 times the amount of renewable generation onto the system highlighting the effectiveness of this type of solution in providing extra flexibility for network operators. These types of solutions are likely to be of great value in the future for DNOs.

EngD student, Alice Gunn, has used the NINES system and its challenges as a case study for her own research which looks at how different types of energy system modelling tools can be used for future policy development. Shetland is an exciting case study for this project due to its challenge with intermittency and interest in DSR solutions to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels in the future.

Key learnings summary

Learnings from these projects inform the transition from Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to Distribution System Operators (DSOs), allowing more cost effective operation of distribution networks whilst allowing continuous integration of Low Carbon Technologies and Smart Technologies.  The highlights of the learnings are:

  • Forecasting is the key for achieving optimal operation of the smart solutions and their cost effectiveness.
  • Substation monitoring can be replaced by aggregation which buddies the end point monitored customers with the un-monitored customers.
  • Frequency response can be provided with domestic storage heaters.
  • Domestic and commercial demand side response have a huge potential to provide flexibility.
  • Electric Vehicles will be a major challenge for DNOs and an opportunity to enable flexibility for DSOs

The final and complete learning outcome reports are due to be published on the projects’ websites shortly:



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