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£12.5m research project to Address energy grid issues

Efforts to make the energy grid more efficient and ready to cope with a rapid increase in renewable energy generation will receive help from a new £12.5 million research project backed by the European Union.

The ‘Address’ project will look at how to develop a commercial and technical framework for what the EU calls ‘active demand’, consisting of controlling consumption, generating energy at a local level and potentially reducing costs to consumers.

Organisations working on the project will include the University of Manchester. An EU spokesman said: “Address is an ambitious project combining 25 partners from 11 European countries spanning the electricity supply chain, research and development bodies and manufacturers.

“Their efforts will be co-ordinated by ENEL Distribution. The project comes at a crucial point in time, when information and communication technologies are at a stage of development where dreams can be realised and new opportunities delivered.

“Today’s grids are outdated and in need of an urgent makeover. They are based on a vertically integrated scheme with centralised generation, such as a single, huge energy plant and a distributed consumption network.”

Earlier this year the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association and the Electrical Contractors’ Association said they would review the issue of demand through the joint Sustainability Issues Group.

This followed a speech by Terry Wyatt, a partner in consultancy Hoare Lea and former president of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, which highlighted the importance of what he described as ‘dynamic demand’.

Mr Wyatt said: “It is just great to see the EU pursuing this route to energy efficiency and renewable enabling.”

Mike Malina, energy expert and managing director of Energy Solutions Associates, said: “This is not about new technology and spending a vast amount of money. It is about managing a problem and having a bigger impact on carbon emissions than many other approaches.”