‘Transforming the Top and Tail’ is a collaborative project of 8 Universities funded by the EPSRC Grand Challenge Programme.
The project focuses on the physical infrastructure change in energy networks required to move the UK to a low carbon economy, and achieve the Government’s 2050 reduction in CO2 emissions target.
The ‘top and tail’ are the 2 particular places in the energy network where existing technology and infrastructure need radical change.
At the ‘top’ of the network ie where the very highest transmission voltages occur, there is an expected emergence of transcontinental energy exchange in Europe, driven by exploitation of diversity in renewable sources and diversity in load.
This will require radical innovation in technologies.
The ‘tail’ of the network is the so-called last mile, and takes place behind the meter wiring into customer premises. More than half the capital cost of an electricity system is spent in the last mile, and cost and disruption barriers have made it resistant to change. The challenge is to re-engineer the way the last mile assets are used without changing the cables and pipes in the ground.