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The Centre for Net Zero Market Design

Our mission

The UCL Centre on Net Zero Market Design will provide independent, evidence-based analysis to inform policies for a rapidly decarbonising UK energy system, with stakeholder engagement to support delivery of an investible market and efficient operation for business and consumers.

The challenge

Decarbonising electricity is the cornerstone of broader transition of the global energy economy, and radical innovation is driving fundamental changes in how we generate, transport and use electricity. The design of electricity markets is crucial to ensure adequate investment and efficient operation of the emerging systems. Success can deliver decarbonised electricity that reliably meets the needs of consumers at affordable prices; failure would lead to the opposite. 

Faced with these challenges and building upon our earlier stakeholder-engaged research we've established a new Centre for Net Zero Market Design, shaped in consultation with industry and other stakeholders.

Our focus

  • Provide independent research input to the wide-ranging policy and regulatory reforms that are required to decarbonise the UK electricity system within a decade.  
  • Specifically, work with the ongoing UK Review of Electricity Market Arrangements (REMA) and related initiatives under the new government. 
  • Contribute academic insights including from international experience, and relate UK options to developments in European electricity markets 
  • Through our Masters programmes, help to train a new generation of electricity market expertise fit for the global transition 

Priority Project

The economic and policy dimensions of surplus electricity generation

Until recently, the primary concern for electricity market reform has been ensuring sufficient investment in renewable energy generation technologies across GB. As we accelerate towards ambitious targets for installed renewable capacity, new challenges are arising. In our second REMA consultation response, we conducted preliminary analysis approximating the volume of electricity generation that could surpass demand in 2030. Our results indicate that a core focus for this new era of market reform should centre around the economics of the likely surplus of electricity generation from renewables at times of high output.  
The first project of the Centre will build on our preliminary analysis. We will quantify and characterise potential surplus output in 2030 and 2040, under various supply and demand scenarios, and will explore the relationship between the projected surplus and electricity prices (surplus of GB generation over demand at any given time may or may not lead to negative wholesale prices, depending upon multiple other factors). We will use this analysis to evaluate the implications for investment in new generation, the requirements for system wide storage and flexibility, and the impact on domestic and industrial consumers. Finally, we explore the policy options available to support the most efficient development of the GB electricity system given the challenges and opportunities arising from surplus generation. 


Associated projects

During 2024, Centre staff are also engaged in several ongoing associated projects:  

UKERC-WIND

A project shared by UCL’s Climate Finance team and the Energy Systems Modelling team at the University of Strathclyde to investigate the most effective way of incentivising the investment required to meet the government’s offshore wind target, while rewarding the flexibility to match supply and demand. Funded by UK Research and Innovation, Energy Programme. Contact: r.gross@ukerc.ac.uk

European energy-industrial decarbonisation in the global context

Integration, consistency and strategy.  Exploring the consistency of announced goals, vis-à-vis actual trends in energy investments in gas and electricity, and UK-EU energy relationships including the terms of electricity trade and investment in multi-purpose interconnectors and potential role of UK vs EU carbon pricing and border mechanisms. Funded by Institute of New Economic Thinking. Contact: yaroslav.melekh@ucl.ac.uk 

Chinese electricity reform

Systems mapping and modelling, a study with Oxford University and four Chinese partners to inform options for integrated reform and decarbonisation of the Chinese electricity system.  Funded by Quadrature Climate Fund and the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. Contact: simonsharpe@climatechampions.team 

To find out how our previous work shaped the establishment of the Centre for Net Zero Energy Market design, visit:


People

Professor Michael Grubb

Michael Grubb
Strategic leadership of the centre will be provided by Michael Grubb, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at UCL, and Deputy Director for the Institute of Sustainable Resources.

Simon Virley CB FEI

A portrait photograph of Simon. Simon wears a navy blue suit with a pink tie. Simon is fair skinned with grey hair and is smiling. Simon sits in front of a bright blue background
The Chair of the Advisory Board will be Simon Virley CB FEI, Vice Chair and Head of Energy & Natural Resources, KPMG UK.

 

"This Centre creates capacity for collaboration across industry, academia, and key stakeholders to tackle the issues of electricity market design for net zero. We aim to inform policy making towards a reformed system that incentivises investment in the right infrastructure whilst delivering affordable bills for consumers.” – Professor Michael Grubb
"No one organisation has all the answers when it comes to navigating the Energy Transition.  So we have to find new ways to collaborate across government, industry and academia to find the best solutions. That is why I am pleased to be chairing the Advisory Board of UCL’s New Centre for Energy Market Design, which can help facilitate that sharing of views and collaboration. – Simon Virley CB FEI

Researchers

Claudia Brown

Claudia is a Research Fellow in Electricity Markets and Investment at the Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London. Claudia’s research centres around energy policy and electricity market design, with a view to facilitating a rapid transition towards a net zero energy system in the UK. Her current research includes investigating the economics of surplus renewable generation as well as the impact of future policy design on the investment landscape for renewable energy technology. In previous work, she has evaluated options for UK wholesale and retail market reform to help tackle fuel poverty while accelerating domestic decarbonisation. A graduate of UCL’s MSc Economics and Policy of Energy and the Environment, Claudia has also employed qualitative methods to determine the factors driving and limiting biofuel production in the French context. 

Serguey Maximov

Serguey is a Research Fellow in Energy Sustainability at the Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London. With a background in mechanical engineering and a PhD in Energy Systems from the University of Edinburgh, Serguey employs qualitative analysis to evaluate the impact of policies on transitioning to a net-zero economy. His previous research has centred on modelling and optimising energy systems to effectively decarbonize heat and electricity supply, alongside designing and evaluating GHG mitigation policies for renewable energy implementation and energy efficiency in residential and industrial sectors.
Utilising his expertise in energy system modelling and data science, Serguey investigates the most efficient technological and policy pathways to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and other unsustainable technologies across various energy services essential for society. He has expanded his focus to examine the interaction between energy policy and investment in renewable energy, aiming to enhance understanding of how energy markets can operate more efficiently under higher renewable generation scenarios.