Mott MacDonald supports government sustainable storage programme

20 July 2017

The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has hired Mott MacDonald to provide technical advisory, assessment and verification services for a new smart systems and storage innovation programme. The programme is aimed at hastening development of a range of renewable energy support technologies, such as energy storage systems.

The shift towards more sustainable forms of energy generation, as well as distribution, continues to dominate government agendas across the globe. Frameworks, such as the Paris Agreement, which aims limit climate change to beneath 2C, have given new reasons for individual nations to invest in green technology, in order to meet the targets set by the accord.

This growing impetus has seen increasing efforts to develop distributed energy networks. The networks, which often involve input from multiple generation sources, are likely to become increasingly important as the cost of renewable energy generators decreases and simple economics takes hold. One of the technologies that improves the efficiency of such networks, is energy storage.

Mott MacDonald to provide advisory support to  BEIS’ smart systems and storage innovation programme

In a bid to support the development of energy storage propositions, among a range of other technologies, the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has launched the smart systems and storage innovation programme. The programme supports the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes, which include storage, demand-side response and ‘smart’ technologies.

The BEIS recently commissioned engineering and consultancy Mott MacDonald, through the Energy Technical Specialist Framework, to assist with the technical development and management of the programme. The firm, which is involved in multiple sustainable energy projects worldwide, particularly involving wind farms, will provide technical advisory, assessment and verification services, focused on assessing the energy storage costs of initiatives with a use case tool, as well as bid appraisal, detailed project contract negotiations and delivery stages of the programme.

Regarding the project, Adina Popa, the consulting firm’s Project Director, said, “This appointment capitalises on our long track-record in assisting the UK Government with the implementation of energy sector innovation competitions, as well as our experience in a wide range of energy storage and smart energy system technologies.”

He added, “Building on our technical skills, this programme provides us with an opportunity to engage with organisations at the forefront of this market at an early stage as we grow our offering in energy innovation sector.”


How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.