Prof. Varga

Title: Aggregators: a new regime for mobilisation
of distributed energy resources

Distributed energy resources (DERs) such as photo-voltaics and electric-traction car batteries, in the past motivated by local resilience, or by carbon reduction, are not meeting their potential. When aggregated DERs can provide capacity to energy grids, permitting local redistribution of supply and storage, and avoiding expensive grid reinforcement. But aggregation, that provides the scale and certainty of performance, given the nature of intermittent renewables, requires data and algorithms that operate autonomously over digital networks, constantly revising, delivering, balancing, and settling transactions. There is now the ability to unlock digital data-driven economic growth via growth in DERS which offer lower cost, higher resilience, carbon friendly sources to energy markets.
Professor Varga has expertise in trans-disciplinary research projects across infrastructure systems (energy, transport, water, waste and telecoms) and food systems focusing on sustainable outcomes for the environment, society and the economy. Strongly underpinned by complexity science theories, methods and tools, which she is extending, Prof Varga is able to explain how services which rely on interdependencies and which cross boundaries and scales in these critical systems can be delivered more innovatively and resiliently. She does this mindful of trends and uncertainties in climate, societal and institutional change, and business models, by exploring possibilities for system futures through scenarios in order to measure interventions which transform infrastructure systems to provide sustainable consumption. Liz’s skills are in creating abstractions of real-world systems, focusing on wicked problems, recognizing emergent phenomena and co-evolutionary effects, and assessing measurable systemic outcomes. Liz uses mixed and hybrid methodologies embracing both quantitative and qualitative data to lead the design of computational algorithms and visualisations of the dynamics of inter-connected systems. She has experience of system transitions, modeling the effects of interventions from various scales: policy, technology and innovation, and analysing computational results representing economic, environmental and societal effects.
She won the Cranfield University Research Award (2014, 2016). Prof. Liz Varga has recently joined UCL and is developing a new Centre for Infrastructure Systems providing thought leadership through industry and government advisory roles. She supervises a number of doctoral students with theses on resilience, innovation and efficiency. She is a top 7% EPSRC Peer Review College reviewer (2018), an invited speaker on infrastructure systems, resilience and liveable/future cities, invited international reviewer, lecturer in systems, society and sustainability for engineers, and an international journal reviewer for: Emergence: Complexity and Organization (2008-). She has edited special issues on integrated utility systems, complexity and energy, and complexity and supply chain, and has a chapter in the new Edward Elgar Handbook of Research Methods in Complexity Science.

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