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Energy Consumption in Lockdown – Newcastle University

As a result of restrictions of movement in the UK, closure of schools and businesses and requirements to work from home where possible, the UK is experiencing a period unlike any other.

This unprecedented situation puts pressure on the UK’s energy networks which are the backbone of the national energy system. Energy networks are usually operated based upon assumptions about the customer and organisational behaviours which have been analysed and modelled for decades. However, the current pandemic has changed these behaviours and the energy consumption pattern. Consequently, there is a huge need to have the capability to predict the patterns of energy demand during the pandemic period.

The change in the behaviours and the energy consumption pattern must also be studied deeply and interpreted in term of networks’ resilience, overall carbon in the energy system and overall efficiency. Possible operational scenarios which can stress the energy networks such as the August 9th blackout can also be studied.

A Research team at Newcastle University led by Dr Sara Walker and Professor Phil Taylor is rolling out a research project to study the impact of the UK lockdown on the energy networks. The team includes researchers in energy networks analysis represented by Dr David Greenwood and Dr Adib Allahham, researchers in the field of data processing represented by Dr Mehdi Pazhoohesh and Dr Matthew Deakin and experts in data visualisation represented by Professor Philip James and Dr Luke Smith.

The research team is working in close collaboration with Northern Power Grid (NPG) and Northern Gas Networks (NGN). One of the project aims is to identify key trends in energy usage over the period January 2020 to July 2020, and deviation from historical trend data. The project will also work at developing predictive methods for energy usage within the period January 2020 to July 2020 and then evaluate these predictive methods over the latter period of lockdown.

The energy usage data will link up to the Urban Observatory COVID dashboard, to bring together all the data linked to energy usage to enable the team to gain an understanding of the impact of significant home working on network operation and share this understanding with the scientific community and interested stakeholders. 

The impact of the predicated energy usage on the gas and electricity networks in the region of The North of Tyne Combined Authority will be studied. The resilience, the overall carbon emission and overall efficiency of these energy networks will also be analysed.

Primarily analysis results shown in Figures 1 and 2 depict that the GB gas and electricity demands have been dropped during the lockdown period. This will lead the project team to investigate the opportunities for long-term energy storage in a highly renewable electricity system.

Figure 1: GB Electricity Demand (7 day Moving Average)

Figure 2: GB Gas Demand

We encourage our partners and supporters to share their examples of good practice in tackling the climate emergency, reversing ecological collapse and delivering a just transition. NEECCo does not undertake to quality assure these case studies, and inclusion of a case study on this website does not imply endorsement of the project by NEECCo or by its partners.

Some case studies will feature organisations who are involved in fossil fuel industries, or who are open to challenge on other aspects of their performance in relation to our objectives. NEECCo recognises that if we are to reach our ambitious objectives, all organisations and individuals within the north east will need to adapt their behaviour and actions. We want our case studies to encourage this process. Our commitment to achieving a just transition from a carbon-based economy to a green economy requires us to encourage positive steps wherever they are to be found. 

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