For the first time, researchers will work alongside industrial practitioners to explore the transformative benefits of coupled gas, electricity, water and transportation systems. Full-scale research and demonstrations of novel approaches to integrated energy systems will be undertaken. These explorations will be facilitated through the addition of state-of-the-art facilities such as:
- digital twins
- IoT and artificial intelligence
- large-scale hydrogen electrolysers
- thermal energy storage systems
- advanced instrumentation and control systems
The InTEGReL facility will target serious challenges faced by energy systems, often referred to as the energy trilemma. £34 billion of investment across electricity networks and £7.6 billion across gas networks will be required to ensure energy demand will be met in a cost effective, clean and secure way.*
The size of this challenge must not be under-estimated. In 2017, 29% of the UK’s electricity came from renewable sources, but electricity is only ~20% of the UK’s energy use. We must also decarbonise transport (~40%) and heat (~30%).
There is an emerging consensus that a ‘whole-systems’ approach to integrated electricity, gas and heat networks offers us the potential to rapidly deliver a resilient, low-carbon, least-cost energy system. This whole-systems approach however presents many technical, commercial, regulatory and safety research questions which must be addressed.