33 - fact sheet

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Integrating small energy generators in buildings
Distributed electricity generation is estimated to grow rapidly in the coming decade, just as distributed communication grew rapidly with Internet technology in the previous decade. Installing microgrids (small, networked energy sources) in buildings would provide electricity in the developing world without the need for vast infrastructure, and in industrial nations it would reduce transmission losses and improve the reliability of electricity supply. Generating power close to where it is used would also provide hot water and space heating from the warmth produced as a by-product, increasing energy efficiency. Greenhouse gas emissions would be further reduced if the on-site generators were fuelled by sources such as hydrogen, sunlight or small wind turbines. Dr Tomas Markvart, from the University of Southampton and the Tyndall Centre, is investigating the technical and economic issues of using microgrids to supply energy to networks of people, such as in a shopping centre or housing estate. He and a team of researchers will review the current status of small-scale energy generation and address the engineering and economic barriers to the use of microgrids. The main aim of the project is to construct a computer model of possible microgrid configurations, to assess the balance between supply and demand of electricity and the reliability of supply. The researchers will also use modelling to assess the economic impact of connecting to the main electricity network, which could supply or receive electricity depending on loads. The resulting report will describe the optimum applications for microgrids in industrial countries and the developing world, and the required future development of microgrid technology. The model of electricity and heat consumption in buildings and the microgrid model developed during the project will also provide an essential tool for further research in this new and developing field.

Installing networks of small generators powered by solar or other renewable sources would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from buildings. More information Contact the lead investigator of Project IT1.33 (Microgrids - distributed on-site generation): Dr Tomas Markvart Engineering Materials, School of Engineering Sciences, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK Phone: +44 (0) 23 8059 3783; Fax: +44 (0) 23 8059 3016 Email: Other researchers involved in this project are: Dr Koen Steemers and Dr Jonathan Köhler, University of Cambridge Professor Geoff Levermore, Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, UMIST Dr Neil Ross and Dr Suleiman Abu-Sharkh, University of Southampton Dr Alan Collinson, EA Technology Ltd Professor John Page, University of Sheffield and UMIST Professor Ray Arnold, Siemens plc Project duration: July 2001 to June 2003 Useful web sites:

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IT1.33 - fact sheet

The Tyndall Centre: The University of Southampton Solar Energy Home Page: How will distributed generation be deployed: Clean Power Research:

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