A team of UK students have come up with a ‘staggering’ solution to manage daily energy demand.
A University of East Anglia team from Norwich suggests incentivising certain groups to stagger their usage to when power is more plentiful.
The team proposes a clever combination of targeted tariffs and compressed air storage in underground reservoirs. The idea is to smooth out the peaks and troughs in daily energy demand and intermittent supply.
For example, students - who tend to stay up later - could be incentivised to use more power at night when the national grid often has a surplus.
The UEA team is through to the finals of an international competition to find innovative solutions to the energy crisis. The RWE npower Energy Challenge is an annual inter-university competition to find the brightest young minds in the UK and the Netherlands. Members of the winning team each receive a prize of £1250.
UEA team captain Jonathan Davison, who is in his final year studying environmental sciences with a year in industry, said: “We’re excited to be presenting our ideas in the final and grateful to RWE npower for the opportunity. It should give us a real insight into the workings of the industry and provide great networking opportunities, too.”
The other team members are Peter Kerrison, who is studying environmental sciences with a year in North America, and Richard Hodkin, who is studying environmental earth sciences with a year in industry. They will compete in the final with three other UK teams and two teams from the Netherlands.
This is the first year UEA has entered the competition. Four UEA teams entered the competition. Two made it through to the heat, at npower’s Staythorpe power station near Newark and one progressed to the final which takes place in London on Thursday March 22.
Competing teams must deliver an eight-minute proposal on how energy companies can reconcile the complex challenges of meeting climate change targets, maintaining a secure supply, and keeping bills affordable.
Senior lecturer in engineering Dr Lawrence Coates, who supported the UEA entries, said: “This competition is enquiry-based learning at its best. Students work extremely hard discovering everything they can about the challenges of providing a reliable energy supply. They then have to come up with an original and well-argued response in order to stand out from the crowd.”
UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences is one of the longest established, largest and most fully developed of its kind in Europe. In the last research assessment exercise 95 per cent of the school’s activity was classified as internationally excellent or world leading.
Last year a new Masters programme in Energy Engineering with Environmental Management was launched in partnership with the School of Mathematics.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: The UEA team, left to right: Richard Hodkin, Jonathan Davison, Peter Kerrison at the recent heat at Staythorpe power station.