One of the UK Research Councils’ biggest investments in research to support energy efficiency policy and contribute to cutting carbon use and greenhouse gas emissions was unveiled today.
Five new End Use Energy Demand (EUED) research centres, that will look into the complexities of energy use across society and how energy can be both saved and used more efficiently, are to receive over £26 million funding from two research councils, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and a further £13 million from industrial partners.
Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, announced the funding today while visiting the Energy Institute at University College London, one of the institutions that submitted successful proposals, which will be focusing on Energy Epidemiology.
Mr Barker said: “We have now put energy efficiency at the very heart of the Government’s energy policy. Using energy more wisely is absolutely vital in a world of increased pressure on resources and rising prices. Not only can energy efficiency help save money on bills and cut emissions, it can support green jobs, innovation and enterprise.
“The five new End Use Energy Demand centres launched today will play an important role in improving our understanding of how energy is used across the nation, helping us learn more about what needs to be done to change consumer and business behaviour. I wish these centres every success and look forward to seeing the results.”
Professor David Delpy, EPSRC’s CEO, said: “We had a tremendous response from the academic community to this call. In all 38 proposals were submitted and many displayed unique approaches. The five centres chosen were considered to have best demonstrated that they could develop internationally leading research and apply it to help meet the Government’s 2050 challenges.”
Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the ESRC, said: “I believe the interdisciplinary nature of these centres will help us to better understand the challenges faced to meet our future energy needs. The centres must work together to ensure that the full potential impact of their programmes is realised. They will engage with the public, interact with users and promote synergies between the research projects which the ESRC fully supports.”
The announcement also coincides with the launch of three new reports, Technology Innovation Needs Assessments (TINAS), which examine the economic and environmental potential of low carbon innovation in the development of industry, homes and non-domestic buildings.
The research at the centres will focus on:
* Big Data - UCL – Director Professor Tadj Oreszczyn
The main goal of the RCUK Centre for Energy Epidemiology will be to provide an evidence base for government and industry. The centre will use novel, UK developed, approaches to ‘Energy Epidemiology’ to maximise the value of existing and very large future sources of energy-related data ('big data'), ensuring the greatest impact for evidence-based energy demand research.
The largest impact will be in creating accountability for multi-billion pound investments in energy efficiency in the UK. This will help meet long term carbon emission, energy security and fuel poverty targets, and help ensure that policies such as Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation deliver value for money.
* Food - led by Brunel University partnered with the universities of Manchester and Birmingham – Director Professor Savvas Tassou
Taking a ‘gate to plate’ view the Centre for Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains will develop innovative approaches, processes and technologies for energy demand reduction in all stages of the food chain; production, distribution, retail and consumption.
Researchers will work closely with some of the UK’s major food manufacturers, retailers, equipment manufacturers and scientific and technical providers.
* Materials Use - led by Cambridge – partnered with University of Bath, University of Leeds, Nottingham Trent University – Director Dr. Julian Allwood
The UK Indemand Centre will focus on reducing the use of both energy, and energy-intensive materials, in the Industries that supply the UK's physical needs, developing a better understanding of the operation and performance of the whole material and energy system of UK industry.
This will identify the policy, business and consumer triggers that would lead to significant change while supporting UK prosperity.
* Practices - led by Lancaster – partnered with the universities of Aberdeen, Manchester, Leeds, Reading, Sheffield, Sussex, and UCL – Director Professor E Shove
Focusing on how demand is made and met, the DEMAND: Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand Centre will work across the sectoral boundaries of mobility and building-related energy use. It will create new methodologies, techniques and approaches for data analysis, for integrating historical research with future oriented planning, and for assessing the societal viability of technological and infrastructural innovation.
This approach will allow organisations engaged in demand management and in radically reconfiguring infrastructures, buildings and transport systems to better meet greenhouse gas emissions targets.
* Technological Transitions led by University of Sussex partnered with University of Oxford
The Research Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand will develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the emergence, diffusion and impact of different types of low-energy innovations in the UK and use this understanding to inform the future development of UK energy and climate policies. Low-energy innovations could be new technologies, organisational arrangements and/or modes of behaviour that are expected to improve energy efficiency and/or reduce energy demand.