Lights at night


Dr Liz Varga

Cranfield University

September 2011 to September 2013

Aims and objectives: This research project takes a complex systems perspective and uses agent based modelling methods to understanding interdependencies and inefficiencies in order to exploit opportunities to adapt infrastructure at points of conversion where two or more utilities might benefit from the change.

These points might be conversion from one resource to another (like coal to electricity) or transport (like sewage from industry to treatment plant) or both (like electricity from distribution point to street lighting).

  • The objective is to highlight opportunities for compatible joined-up regulation and inter-utility adaptation, by replacing, avoiding or improving conversions mindful of new technology.
  • The modelling will simulate national infrastructure improvements of various options to change.
  • The strategy to focus on conversion points could provide a future framework for joined-up exploratory research, not only for resource (fossil fuel) minimisation and carbon dioxide reduction, but also to examine utility security and resilience.

Final TUCP dissemination meeting, September 2013

Research has demonstrated the potential of using agent-based models to represent complex and interdependent multi-utility and service systems to explore the consequences of different policies and their effects on achieving sustainable national infrastructure into the future.

By emphasising the provision of services, rather than the physical assets, the project has led to some very interesting and possibly counter-intuitive findings regarding carbon emissions, with implications for consideration of future policy interventions and for meeting emission reduction targets set by the UK government.