The provision of energy services, such as comfort and illumination, relies on a complex energy system. This includes the technologies required to extract energy from different (renewable and non-renewable) resources, to transport that energy to where it is needed, and to convert into different forms and finally the energy services themselves. These technologies are highly dependent on the natural resources themselves, their location and availability, on the social systems which invest, manage and use the energy, and on the institutional and policy frameworks within which all these operate. The combination constitutes the whole energy system.
Many energy problems require detailed examination of particular aspects of the system, but this is not sufficient. There are interactions between parts of the system. The need for energy supply depends on the scale and timing of demand; energy infrastructure depends on the location of different activities; the technical and social systems depend on each other. So any energy system is more than the sum of its parts and requires ‘systems analysis’.
The need to move away from highly polluting and unsustainable energy supplies therefore implies not just a change from one fuel to another, but a transition in which all aspects of the energy system might well change. This theme of our research looks at the interactions and systemic changes implied by a shift to sustainability. In particular it considers the changes in decisions (at all scales) that may be required and the implications for the governance of energy.
- Funding: EPSRC
- Programme Lead: Dr Nick Eyre
ECI lead a theme in the third phase of the UKERC looking at challenges in energy decision making, including governance, actor decision making and systemic interactions. The demand for energy is the driver of the whole energy system, influencing not only the total amount of energy used, but also the location, type of fuel and characteristics of the end use technology. Energy systems face increasing pressures from many directions, most notably for a rapid transition to a secure, low carbon energy system. Understanding the role of energy demand in these changes is therefore an increasing priority. ECI lead, and are involved in, a number of sub-projects within the UKERC Decision Making theme.
- Funding: Oxford Martin School
- Co-Directors: Dr Nick Eyre and Dr Malcolm McCulloch
The Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy aims to deliver a framework for understanding technical, market and policy requirements for integrating renewables across scales, resource types and contexts. The work includes tasks on ‘Governance of and engagement with the demand side’, in which we aim to analyse shifts towards ‘active’ demand and the potential for more flexible demand at different scales. Partners at the Oxford University: Departments of Engineering, Materials, Law and Mathematic, the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
- Funding: EPSRC
- Co-I: Dr Nick Eyre; Led by Professor Jim Hall
The ITRC informs the analysis, planning and design of national infrastructure, through the development and demonstration of new decision support tools, and working with partners in government and industry. LCF input has focused on the NISMOD-LP model of demand and capacity for infrastructure systems, leading the work on modelling energy demand.
Full list of archived energy projects.