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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

Smart Grids

Durham Energy Institute has undertaken a variety of projects and collaborations centred around smart grids with a range of partners including EDF, EON, Scottish Power, ABB, PB Power, AREVA, Northern Powergrid.

Durham’s smart grid research covers a wide variety of research topics including mathematical modelling and statistics, power systems optimisation and control, ICT-power system integration and demand side management. Examples include:

ICT-Power System Integration: We develop scalable ICT networks to handle massive quantities of smart grid data, and test them in the Smart Grid Laboratory.

Power Electronics: We investigate the ability of local DC networks to improve the overall reliability and flexibility of future power networks.

Demand Response: We study the role of aggregators in the energy market, and develop multi-objective optimisation algorithms capable of empowering various market actors including consumers.

DEI multidisciplinary research also focuses on the emergence and critique of ‘smart’ energy systems and seeks to understand how this relates to broader shifts in systems of infrastructure service provision. The research seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the extent to which Smart can assist in planning, managing and facilitating future energy systems that are flexible, complex and uncertain. It also looks at the extent to which Smart can include emerging technologies, societal participation at reasonable cost and security.

Durham has a smart grid laboratory containing the necessary facilities for research on the energy network technologies required for the transition to a low carbon economy. Find out more about our smart grid laboratory.

Download our Smart grids research expertise flier.

Download our energy systems research expertise flier.

Find out about Postgraduate topics in Smart Grids for prospective students.

Key people

Dr. Hongjian Sun - Smart Grids, renewable energy resources, cognitive radio, and cooperative communication techniques.

Dr Behzad Kazemtabrizi - Power flow models, Renewable Energy Resources Integration and Reliability Modeling.

Professor F P A Coolen - Risk and Uncertainty

Professor M Goldstein - Uncertainty analysis for reservoir management, joint inversion and system reliability

Dr D A Wooff - Risk and uncertainty


The DEI has researchers involved in the following major projects:

  • Testing and Evaluating Sophisticated information and communication Technologies for enabling a smartEr grid (Testbed) project: TESTBED is a major interdisciplinary consortium project
    coordinated by Dr Sun at Durham and funded by the EU
    H2020 MSCA-RISE. It focuses on building and testing sophisticated ICT to facilitate the successful implementation of smart grid applications.
  • SmarterEMC2 Dr. Sun is Work Package Leader in the H2020 Project consortium (contract no. 646470).
  • Towards Joint Power-Communication System Modelling and Optimisation for Smart Grid Application: Virtual Power Plant (TOPMOST) project: This EPSRC funded project led by Dr Sun focuses on developing the key smart grid application Virtual Power Plant(VPP).

  • Customer-led Network Revolution, (CLNR) A major £53M project awarded by Ofgem in the Low Carbon Network Fund initiative (Ofgem, Northern Powergrid, British Gas, EA Technology)
  • Investigating the Role of Energy Storage Systems in Smart Grids project (Electricity North West)
  • Energy Storage Operating Strategies and Deployment, Low Carbon Networks Tier 1 (UK Power Networks, ABB)
  • Energy Storage for Electrical Distribution Networks, Technical, Commercial and Regulatory Aspects (Electricity North West)
  • Mathematical Foundations for Energy Networks: buffering, storage and transmission (EPSRC, Heriot Wat University, Cambridge University)
  • Interdisciplinary Cluster on Energy Systems, Equity and Vulnerability (ESRC/EPSRC, Kings College London, Lancaster University)
  • Real Time Ratings and Thermal State Estimation for Electrical Distribution Networks (ScottishPower, Infoterra)
  • Multi Agent Systems for Decentralised Control of Future Low Voltage Networks (EON)
  • Investigation into Electrical Distribution Network Risk (Northen Powergrid)
  • Demand Side Participation, a Socio-Technical Approach (CE Electric UK)
  • Distributed Control (EPSRC: "Autonomous Regional Active Network Management System (AURA-NMS)"

Consultation responses and publications:

2015 - Evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee inquiry into Low carbon network infrastructure inquiry by Adwoa Asantewaa, Professor Tooraj Jamasb, Dr. Hongjiun Sun and Professor Simon Hogg (please see attached)

2013 – Evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee inquiry into Smart Meter Roll-out by Professor Harriet Bulkeley

Feb 2011 -The DEI submitted a report to the Department of Energy and Climate Change on Smart Grids drawing together the recommendations emerging from a meeting between DEI, leading industrialists and DECC. Smart Grids Workshop Report