Smart cities, offshore wind, nuclear development and digital are all high on the agenda for EDF Energy Research and Development (R&D UK). But before looking ahead to the exciting things 2018 has in store for the team, now is a good time to reflect on the year gone by, and there’s plenty to celebrate.
2017 saw R&D UK continue to strengthen its expertise with over 60 full time researchers now making up the UK centre. From interns to project managers, R&D UK is a diverse, knowledgeable and dedicated organisation, tasked with creating a more sustainable, low-carbon society.
So, what have we been working on?
Renewables was a big focus for us in 2017. We created a dedicated multi-disciplinary Renewables team to provide support to the Blyth Offshore Demonstrator project during the construction phase, as well as leading and coordinating the R&D Offshore Wind activity for EDF Group. We contributed to other R&D renewables activities for wind resource assessment, blades and cost modelling both for the benefit of EDF Energies Nouvelles and EDF Energy Renewables.
We equally looked at energy storage in all forms, from electricity to thermal, and considered its current limitations in terms of flexibility and capacity. We continued to see how gamification could help change energy consumption behaviour with the EnerGAware project. We explored energy consumption even further by considering the benefits of auto-consumption and were selected by OFGEM to trial a local, urban peer to peer energy trading platform.
For Digital Innovation, 2017 was the year of Artificial Intelligence (AI). R&D UK developed a complex, feature-rich chatbot designed to help our customers manage their energy use. We helped our colleagues in EDF Group prepare for the arrival of French-language personal voice assistants and we developed AI-powered applications to help EDF Energy customers budget better.
We used advance data science techniques to help engineers manage nuclear plants efficiently. In addition, R&D UK continued to support plant performance by using computational models of the graphite cores of our Advances Gas-cooled Reactors in order to predict the ageing effects of the reactors.
It’s been a busy year! Nevertheless, R&D UK wouldn’t have achieved its innovative work without strong support from academic institutions, industry partners and public organisations alike.
This was highlighted at our 2nd annual Postgraduate Researcher Event where we welcomed students like Claire and faculty members from our key partner universities.
Leading on a Natural Hazards project, R&D UK has been working with the Met Office and Mott MacDonald to produce a set of guidelines for ETI, on understanding risks to UK infrastructure from natural hazards such as extreme wind, flooding and hail.
EDF signed a Research Collaboration Agreement on microgrids with Nanyang Technological University with R&D UK set to provide technical support for microgrid applications and rural electrification. Additionally, we signed a 5-year Strategic Collaboration Agreement with BRE Group to advance research on a wide range of topics from connectivity of wireless devices to the electrification of heat and transport.
What does 2018 hold in store for R&D UK?
Xavier Mamo, Director of EDF Energy R&D UK hopes to build on the successes of the past year in 2018:
“2017 was a successful year for EDF Energy R&D UK with existing partnerships being strengthened, as well as new collaboration opportunities being created. Moreover, numerous innovative projects were developed, delivered and implemented. This year, R&D UK aims to continue to provide high-end expertise in our projects to achieve our common focus of local delivery of global value, to the benefit of our business in the UK, EDF Group and the general public more broadly.”
The topic of smart cities continues to grow in importance with conversations focused on how a technology-led and data driven future will shape our cities. Moreover, entire mobility models for cities are looking to change in order to tackle pollution and decrease particle emissions. As a result, new business opportunities will emerge but equally new perspectives for R&D UK to explore in the field of electric vehicles.
R&D UK will continue to lead on the R&D offshore wind activities, identifying, developing and implementing innovative and cost-effective solutions for Offshore Wind Farms.
We are set to diversify our Nuclear portfolio and are looking towards supporting the waste and decommissioning of our existing nuclear fleet, as well kicking off projects for Nuclear New Build, developing digital tools to enable effective efficient project delivery.
We will also continue to help our Customers business develop innovative digital products and services and our Generation business to use data science to solve operational challenges and will push the boundaries of what is possible using emerging blockchain technology.
Thank you to all those that helped shape 2017 for R&D UK. We’re looking forward to seeing what this year will bring!
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