Energy System Architecture (ESA) concept developed


Evaluation of social, regulatory and governance implications of findings

23 March, 2020

Reading time: 3 minutes

The concept of Energy System Architecture (ESA) has been developed to help to identify the strengths and limitations of current energy system models.

Eighteen months into the project, working side-by-side with modelling colleagues, we have developed the concept of Energy System Architecture (ESA) to help to identify the strengths and limitations of current energy system models and to support further improvement of energy whole system modelling.

Working definition of ESA

The general principle of System Architecture is the description of system as a set of relationships between its component parts that capture the system’s form and function. The discipline of System Architecture emerged from the Apollo Programme in the United States [Crawley et al]. Drawing on the principles and practical experience, we define energy system architecture as the spatial, topological and functional organisation of energy generation, conversion, transmission, distribution and storage systems within the whole energy system.

We presented a conceptual paper ‘Technology Arrangement: Conceptualising the Role of Energy System Architecture in the Decarbonisation of Heat’ at the Energy Research and Society in Transition, 2nd International Conference on Energy Research and Social Science 28-31 May, 2019 in Arizona State University, Tempe, USA. The paper explores the conceptualisation of energy system architecture through a case study of heat pump deployment. We argue that the very concept of ESA should be seen as co-evolving over time with infrastructure, in response to technological innovations and constraints under cross pressures from political, economic, social and demographic change.

In the same year, 2019, we presented a paper entitled ‘The ecology of heat pump performance- a socio-technical analysis’ at the 11th International Conference on Sustainability in Energy and Buildings (SEB-19) Budapest, Hungary, 4-5, July. This paper explores deployment of heat pumps in future ESA through the analysis of the operational performance of heat pumps based on the case studies from the largest heat pump field trial in the UK (Renewable Heat Premium Payment). The full paper has been published J. Littlewood et al. (eds.). Sustainability in Energy and Buildings, Smart Innovation, systems and Technologies 163, Free access to this paper will be available in June, 2020.

Linking with the buildings & energy theme, we have explored the problematic nature of the role of energy efficiency of housing in the decarbonisation of heat through a paper on the possibilities of deep retrofit. We investigated the genesis of innovation through the deep-retrofit practices and experiences of 7 project teams participated in the Retrofit for the Future Programme. This paper is entitled ‘Innovation in deep housing retrofit in the United Kingdom: The role of situated creativity in transforming practice’. It is now freely available on-line from Energy Research & Social Science, 63 (2020) 101391

Banner photo credit: Science in HD on Unsplash