A new £20m National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, involving specialists at Heriot-Watt University, will take a full overview of UK energy network and provision and could help in the drive save consumers up to £8 billion a year by 2030.

The £20m EPSRC Centre, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with £15M of industrial support, will bring together energy experts from around the world to help unravel the energy network and understand future supply and demand.

The Centre is designed to bridge a major information gap in the drive towards a fully integrated, smart energy network, by looking for the first time at the energy system as a whole; gas, power, renewables, heating and cooling. By taking this holistic approach, and providing robust messages about the real world, the Centre will be crucial to improving energy efficiency, driving down customer bills and reducing carbon emissions by optimising the energy network as a whole and informing future government policy.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers across Heriot-Watt’s Research Institutes will draw on the expertise of leading academics from the universities of Newcastle (Project Lead), Sussex, Edinburgh and Durham.

Centre Associate Director Dr David Flynn, Director of the Smart Systems Group at Heriot-Watt University, said, “To ensure that the UK has an energy network fit for purpose, we must take a whole systems approach to ensure that the infrastructure (physical assets) and polices that influence its future are focused on a sustainable energy network that is centred on meeting the needs of the society that it serves.

“This new National Centre will provide us with an unparalleled source of data and we must support the energy community in converting that into actionable information to inform policy and design of the energy network. This will allow us to develop solutions that deal with the inherent risk and uncertainty within the energy network so we can confidently inform government policy.

“It gives us an opportunity here in the UK to really drive forward the smart energy revolution and become international leaders in this space.  We are delighted to be working with our colleagues at Newcastle, Edinburgh, Durham and Sussex.”

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said, “From powering our businesses to monitoring our health and connecting us with friends and family around the world, we all rely on the generation and supply of electricity. This £20 million Centre will help us with the next challenge of storing new sources of energy to meet future demand and secure the UK’s leading position in low carbon technologies.