Dr Marko Aunedi, Research Fellow, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering 

“One focus of my work projects us into the near future where smart appliances help us look after the climate.”

After completing my degree and Master’s in Croatia, where I grew up, I arrived at Imperial to start my long-desired PhD. My research focuses on how best to integrate technologies with a low carbon footprint into the electricity network.  

The jury is still out on what mix of energy technologies we will need to deliver affordable low-carbon energy. Should we get our electricity by building more nuclear plants, or from renewables, such as offshore wind turbines, supported by energy storage? Should we heat our homes using electricity, hydrogen or something else? How and when should we charge the batteries of our electric vehicles? 

One focus of my work projects us into the near future where smart appliances help us look after the climate. For example, smart fridges, dishwashers and washing machines could switch themselves on at night when energy demand tends to be low. This would enable more low-carbon electricity generators such as wind turbines to be plugged into the network. Due to their variable output, this is currently hard to do when half the country puts the kettle on at 1700. 

To meet the government’s ambition for zero carbon emissions from electricity generation, many more renewable resources will need to be built. I focused on this when I led the work on a white paper on net-zero electricity mix in Great Britain. The experience of presenting it in a live launch webinar to an audience of around 400 was pretty surreal – I’ve never presented to so many people without being able to see anyone. This was the mother of all Teams and Zoom calls, and over the last year I’ve had enough of those to last me a lifetime! 

Since the start of the pandemic, I have worked harder than ever before, which has been partially eased by not having to commute daily to central London, but also made more challenging by helping my wife home-school our children through two lockdowns. 

In my spare time I like to relax with my family and our dog on walks in the countryside. My highlight so far has been the 14-mile trek over Seven Sisters! Coming from Croatia with its amazing coastline, I also love spending time close to water and enjoy its calming effect while swimming, paddling or boating.  

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