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New research centre ‘to revolutionise knowledge of energy demand’ – University of Reading

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New research centre ‘to revolutionise knowledge of energy demand’

Release Date 26 March 2018

The new UKCRED centre will measure variability in energy demand

The University of Reading will take a leading role in a new £19.5m research centre exploring how changing consumer habits could make energy cheaper for everyone.

The UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand (UKCRED) was officially announced by the Government today (Monday 26 March). It will commence on 1 April and seek to deliver international research on how electricity can be supplied in a more intelligent and cost-effective way.

The Centre will be funded with £19.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The University of Reading has been allocated £1.2m of this funding, and Professor Jacopo Torriti, in Reading’s School of the Built Environment, has been named as one of the seven co-directors of the Centre.

Other Reading researchers involved in UKRED are Dr Stefan Smith, who specialises in developing technologies that reward customers for using electricity at non-peak times, and Dr Ben Potter and Dr Phil Coker, who both work on electric vehicles, including systems that allow them to sell unused energy back to the grid to be used elsewhere.

Professor Torriti will lead research aimed at measuring current trends in energy demand and assess the impact of potential action to stimulate flexible energy use. Currently, electricity prices fluctuate greatly, increasing almost tenfold at peak times and putting a strain on energy suppliers.

Professor Torriti said: “We know that energy demand varies at different times of the day, but the reasons for this have never been properly measured. There is so much talking around the need for flexible demand in a low-carbon energy future, but we don’t know yet where this flexibility will come from.

“The research we will carry out as part of the new centre will revolutionise knowledge on energy demand and, more specifically, what we know about flexibility.”

The Centre brings together more than 40 academics at 13 institutions across the UK and is led by the RCUK Energy Demand Research Champion, Professor Nick Eyre, at the University of Oxford. The proposed research themes align with elements of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, including ‘Improving Business and Industry Efficiency’, ‘Improving our Homes’ and ‘Accelerating the Shift to Low Carbon Transport’.

It also has parallels with Reading’s existing DEEPRED and REDPEAK projects, and also the DEMAND project, all of which look at changes and trends in energy demand and how these may reshape future provision and use of energy.

The National Infrastructure Commission estimates the value of the technical potential of the flexibility market at around £8 billion per year.

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