New learning lab helping London move towards low carbon future

From press releases - 5 October 2011 09:00 AM

A state-of-the-art laboratory has been opened that will give scientists, engineers and policy makers insight into the future energy system requirements of London and the UK.

The Learning Lab, at Imperial College London, has been set up by UK Power Networks, Low Carbon London partners and the College as part of their commitment to the Low Carbon London project.

The Lab will process and analyse data from various trials around the capital to build a clearer picture of how Londoners can help reduce the city’s carbon footprint. It was officially opened today (October 5) by Basil Scarsella, Chief Executive of UK Power Networks.

The partnership was awarded £24.6 million by regulator Ofgem for its Low Carbon London project, supplemented by the company, to activate a £30million programme. The funding is being used to explore how new technology, operating and commercial arrangements can help electricity networks meet the demands of a low carbon economy.

Mr Scarsella said: “The Learning Laboratory will enable us to share the outcome of pioneering research trials with the outside world. We will be using real data to understand the challenges and opportunities which face electricity network operators in the low carbon future. Our findings will be relevant to any city, like London, which is committed to a sustainable future.”

Professor Goran Strbac, Professor of Electrical Energy Systems at Imperial College London, said: “As London moves towards a more sustainable future, we are likely to be using new low-carbon technologies that rely on electricity, such as solar panels, battery-powered cars or heat pumps to warm our homes and heat our water.

"This has big implications for our power networks and we need to understand how to incorporate these technologies into our existing infrastructure in a cost effective, intelligent and manageable way. That is why the establishment of the Learning Lab at Imperial is so important - the research carried out here will help us to find ways to use this technology successfully so that we can move towards a low carbon future.”

The funding means that London’s electricity network can get ready for a future where businesses, organisations and individuals can play an increasing role in reducing carbon emissions while also saving money. UK Power Networks and Imperial College London are supported by the programme partners Siemens and Logica.

The Learning Lab will be the research hub for the project, collecting knowledge and experiences gained from the Low Carbon London project. As an example, it is at the forefront of analysing how smart meters can help consumers use electricity more efficiently.

The lab will also look at how major customers can use electricity to help balance the grid, and how users of electric vehicles can use green electricity to help reduce London’s carbon emissions.

It is also supporting the capital’s push towards efficient decentralised energy production which can help reduce carbon emissions by combining heat and electricity production where it is needed. 

Dave Openshaw, head of future networks for UK Power Networks said: “The opening of the laboratory represents a major milestone in the Low Carbon London project.  We now look forward to working with Imperial College London in creating new knowledge, which we will share with others who also wish to build sustainable cities and communities.”

The Learning Lab will provide a means of disseminating information and learning from the Low Carbon London project to a wide audience through a series of reports, workshops and seminars. It will also provide a central hub to run simulations of future network scenarios, interpreting results of the trials taking place in the capital and considering the implications for the UK as a whole.

The lab will be open to a wide range of users including industry participants, academics, the media and government officials.


For more information please contact Niamh Arnett or Matthew Beacom in the UK Power Networks press office on 0845 3027293.

Notes to Editors:

UKPower Networks

UK Power Networks provides power to a quarter of the UK’s population through its electricity distribution networks. We’re responsible for delivering a safe, secure and sustainable power supply to more than eight million homes and businesses across London, the South East and East of England. The company, backed by strong ownership, aims to strengthen links with the local communities we serve, building on the skills base of the 5,500 people who work for us across the network including our major bases in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Potters Bar, London, Crawley and Maidstone.

Led by UK Power Networks, Low Carbon London is a £30million pioneering learning programme funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund and the energy company. Its aim is to use London as a test bed to develop a smarter electricity network that can manage the demands of a low carbon economy and deliver reliable, affordable low carbon electricity to businesses, residents and communities. The programme will explore how to combine new technology and commercial innovation – such as localised generation, electric vehicles, heat pumps, smart meters, time of use tariffs and responsive demand services – to support a low carbon energy economy.

Imperial College London (Website:

Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.

In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible.