New Normal: Batteries, carbon calculators and UK’s electricity mix

Energy consultancy at Imperial from leading researchers

The energy sector is at tipping point. Following changes in regulations to benefit customers, as well as the long-term investment from governments into renewable power, the world is on the cusp of a revolution that overhauls our reliance on fossil fuels to one that is dominated by sustainable energy sources. But how can you leverage these new opportunities through energy consultancy for a number of different purposes?

We’re proud to host some of the UK’s leading energy experts at Imperial, whose academic credentials are matched only by their insights and influence within the energy community – from policy makers and regulators to manufacturers and suppliers. 

Batteries and fuel cells 

Renewable energy’s biggest stumbling blocks have traditionally been around the efficiency of the supply and whether it was available when people needed it. 

Recent research has shown that thanks to the investment in offshore wind, upcoming energy auctions are likely to be profitable for taxpayers, as energy production from the source will be cheaper than before, meaning subsidies can be paid back via reduced bills.  

However, storage of the energy produced remains challenging, which is where our experts are helping companies find a solution. 

New battery technology in development at the College can make huge improvements to the life span and storage of electricity. As the UK transitions towards a greener economy, this will greatly enhance our capacity for on-demand energy from cleaner sources. 

Fuel cells also have a significant role to play, both during the transition and for heavy industries’ long term energy requirements. Companies founded at the College, such as Ceres Power (the UK’s most valuable clean tech company), RFC Power and Bramble Energy excel in these technologies. 

Our experts from Galvanic Energy – who specialise in practical knowledge of existing and emerging technologies, the Energy Futures Lab and Sustainable Gas Institute have worked with governments and industry clients to help understand the opportunities made possible by emerging science and scaleable manufacturing and deployment of these devices. 

Disruption in energy storage - Galvanic Energy

Not only have manufacturing costs reported by industry leaders, academia, and the media converged, but costs are approaching a floor of lowest-possible cost, set by the price of raw materials, refining processes, manufacturing and transportation.
– from the Galvanic Energy free-to-download white paper Opportunities for Disruptive Advances through Engineering for Next Generation Energy Storage

Battery fires: Industry and research must work together for safer batteries

Industry leaders feel that battery safety standards do not represent real-world scenarios that could cause fires and are therefore not robust enough to prevent, detect, and suppress battery fires.

“The distinction between the approaches of industry and research mean they are not yet aligned enough make batteries as safe possible” – Dr Greg Offer, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Smart and flexible electric heat - Energy Futures Lab

Decarbonising heat is going to be complex and costly and it’s going to involve consumers adopting new technologies because heat is generated largely within the home. It will take time to roll out new products and services, so we urgently need to begin that process in earnest
– report by Imperial’s Energy Futures Lab, Smart and flexible electric heat

Case study: Understanding the electricity mix with Drax

Drax, the UK’s biggest energy producer, has called on the experience of Dr Iain Staffell, from Imperial’s Centre for Environmental Policy, to produce Electric Insights, a real-time vision of the country’s electricity supply, supported by quarterly reports that inform pricing, policy and improving the environmental sustainability of the power sources.  

The project, which has been running since August 2018, has enabled Drax and other electricity companies prepare for changes to the market and adapt to changing requirements for power generation. It means that companies can access independent expertise about the current state of the market, which helps them make better decisions for their own stakeholders and customers, and in turn leads to better outcomes for the environment. 

Case study: Reducing customers’ carbon footprints with Bulb

Customer buy-in for reducing carbon emissions is a win-win-win – less energy is needed to be produced, thus costing less to the suppliers to provide, and the savings are passed on to customers, while the environment benefits from less harmful impacts. 

However, while companies could decide to turn the taps on or off according to resource availability, empowering the customers to make better, more carbon-conscious decisions, is more effective and -for the companies – better for business. 

Through consultancy work with Dr Jem Woods‘ team at the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial, Bulb Energy – the UK’s fastest-growing energy provider – have developed a carbon calculator to help customers understand their energy usage, helping nudge them to make better decisions for their wallets and the planet.  

The partnership has saved customers hundreds of thousands of pounds in just the last few months, while the positive impact on the environment will carry on for years to come. 

Retrofit your insulation remotely

While social distancing is still in place in many areas, how can you capitalise on the £3 billion investment from the UK Government to retrofit buildings with insulation? Q-Bot Ltd., which employs robots to do the hard labour, provides a unique insulation solution.

Empowering social change through energy security

Oorja, founded by Chemical Engineer Dr Clementine Chambon, has revolutionised local energy production and security in rural communities in India. In turn, it has empowered those communities to invest time and resources on enhancing agricultural production and economic development.

Freezer power increase expected to keep food fresh

A partnership between Sainsbury’s, the Grantham Institute at Imperial and our Department of Chemical Engineering showed that freezers will consume 6% more power in the coming years to cope with the impacts of climate change on food supply in stores and on food supply chains.

Find out how Imperial can help you with your specific needs be they immediate or a longer term goal.

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