The ADVENT programme has developed a sophisticated modelling tool that can be used to optimally spatially locate the energy infrastructure for future energy pathways in the UK. The key contribution of this modelling tool is that  fine-level spatial resolution allows for a detailed examination of the potential ecosystem service cost and benefits of a future energy system. Moreover, the tool can be used to examine how that energy system might best be configured to minimise damage to ecosystem services. This project seeks to extend the modelling tool to examine three key issues not addressed in the ADVENT project.

Surface water availability and quality

In the context of changing future climates, this theme will examine how future demand for surface water from the energy system (including that from thermoelectric plants, biocrops and fracking) will impact on the flow of other ecosystem services including ecological functioning, crop irrigation, and domestic and industrial water supply. The core output will be to discover how future energy systems might be optimally configured so as to minimise costs on other ecosystem services through surface water use.

Air quality

This theme will examine how the spatial location of future energy systems will impact air pollution and, as a result, on human health and ecosystem functioning. Clearly the focus here will be on combustion technologies and pollutants including, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulates. One major extension to the ADVENT modelling tool will be to move away from the current focus on major electricity production facilities to consider localised facilities including those providing combined heat and power.

Renewables connection to the transmission & distribution networks

A dominant consideration in the development of new renewable energy infrastructure is the cost of connection of new wind, solar and bioenergy to the transmission or distribution networks. Using the fine-scale spatial resolution of the ADVENT modelling tool we propose exploring how the costs of developing new renewable energy production might be minimised by optimally choosing locations in which the transmission and distribution networks might be expanded and reinforced.

Analysis will be made, where possible at a hectare resolution and the aggregated differences of the two scales investigated. The impact of climate change will be considered out to 2050 using RCP2.6 data.