Library image, photo by Alireza Attari on Unsplash

Lost generation: Reflections on resilience and flexibility from an energy system architecture perspective

21 June, 2021

Lost generation: Reflections on resilience and flexibility from an energy system architecture perspective

Robert Lowe

Lai Fong Chiu

Steve Pye

Tiziano Gallo Cassarino

Daniel Scamman

Baltazar Solano Rodriguez

Research paper   Decarbonisation of heat

Robert Lowe, Lai Fong Chiu, Steve Pye, Tiziano Gallo Cassarino, Daniel Scamman, Baltazar Solano-Rodriguez

Abstract

Whole energy system modelling is a valuable tool to support the development of policy to decarbonise energy systems, and has been used extensively in the UK for this purpose. However, quantitative insights produced by such models necessarily omit potentially important features of physical and engineering reality. The authors argue that important socio-technical insights can be gained by studying critical events such as the loss of 2.1 GW generation from the electricity system of Great Britain on 9th August 2019, in conjunction with literature on the behaviour of complex systems. Among these insights is the idea that models of the operation and evolution of energy systems can never be complete. Both system behaviour (operation) and the emergence and evolution of structure in such systems are formally uncomputable. This provides a starting point for a discussion of the need for additional tools, drawn from the System Architecture literature, to support the design and realisation of future, fully-decarbonised systems with high penetrations of renewable energy. Desirable properties of System Architectures, including current and future Energy System Architectures, are discussed. These include resilience and flexibility, for which there is an extensive literature. They also include the properties of comprehensibility, which helps to make complex systems easier to operate, and of evolvability, for which a working definition is offered.

Publication details

Lowe, R.J., Chiu, L.F., Pye, S., Cassarino, T.G., Scamman, D. and Solano-Rodriguez, B. 2021. Lost generation: Reflections on resilience and flexibility from an energy system architecture perspective. Applied Energy, 298: 117179. doi: Opens in a new tab10.1016/j.apenergy.2021.117179

Banner photo credit: Alireza Attari on Unsplash

Scroll Up