'Smart Local Energy Systems: social, technical and operational aspects' with Dr Sarah Darby, Dr Scot Wheeler & Melanie Bryce

Past Event

08 July 2020, 11:00am - 12:00pm


Renewable8 Jul

In this webinar Sarah Darby, Scot Wheeler, and Melanie Bryce will talk on smart local energy systems, based on their ongoing work in Project Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO). Helen Gavin will host the webinar.

This webinar is organised by the Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy and will take place via Zoom. Please register for the event on Eventbrite to receive joining instructions.

Project LEO is considered to be one of the most ambitious, wide-ranging, innovative, and holistic smart grid trials ever conducted in the UK.

The UK’s electricity system is changing, with more renewable and low-carbon technologies producing power. In addition, opportunities for consumers to generate and sell electricity, store electricity in batteries and in electric vehicles mean that there are new ways to reduce the demand for power at key times.

One reason why the project is focused on Oxfordshire is because that there are constraints on the local electricity network. These constraints prevent additional renewable energy generation from being installed, or make it prohibitively expensive. Traditionally, expensive network reinforcement would be needed to satisfy extra demand and enable more renewable generators to connect to the grid. However, advances in technology and the ability to balance demand at different times mean that instead of reinforcement, the solution could lie in a smarter, secure and more flexible network.

A further reason for locating the project in Oxfordshire lies in the strength of public support for energy transition, built up through community groups, social enterprises and local government; and the expertise and know-how that are available through the Universities and local businesses.

The purpose of Project LEO is to improve our understanding of these opportunities, and to explore the smart, secure and flexible network of the future. This will not only help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate electricity at lower cost, but also allow households, businesses and communities to have a share of the benefits.

Dr Sarah Darby

Dr Sarah Darby is a Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy, and Acting Leader of the Environmental Change Institute’s Energy Programme, University of Oxford.

Sarah’s main research interests concern the future of electricity systems as socio-technical systems and the prospects for ‘intelligible’ energy services. This involves study of social, behavioural and educational aspects of energy use, including adoption and adaptation of technology by laypeople.

Dr Scot Wheeler

Dr Scot Wheeler is a Fellow of the Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy, and a postdoctoral researcher in the Engineering Science Department of the University of Oxford.

His research interests are motivated by the transition to a more distributed energy system, resulting from increasing levels of renewable generation, and how smart solutions can help manage this.

Before starting at Oxford, Scot worked with the Grantham Institute, looking at mini-grids to support rural electrification in developing countries.

Melanie Bryce

Melanie Bryce is the Oxfordshire Programme Director at Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), and also the lead on Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire).

As a Chartered Engineer, Mel has spent her entire career in the energy industry spanning roles from Asset Management to Investment and Regulation. A lifelong passion for the energy industry has led to working on Project LEO, the most wide ranging trial of flexibility on the distribution network undertaken to date. Previous projects have included running the installation programme for Primary Substation Works across the Asset Management Portfolio, and advising on the replacement profile for subsea cables. Mel has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Birmingham.

Helen Gavin

Helen Gavin is based in the Environmental Change Institute of the University of Oxford, working on the Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy.

She is a sustainability professional, passionate about renewable energy and water resources, with expertise in a range of quantitative environmental issues. She has covered a range of roles including technical specialist, water and energy auditor, programme manager, and knowledge exchange in consultancy and in academia.