Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

  • 26 March 2018

ECI to lead new £19 million research centre on energy demand

A major new UK research centre on Energy Demand has been announced by the EPSRC and ESRC today, to develop and deliver internationally leading research, focusing on energy demand from a systemic, socio-technical perspective.

Ⓒ Adobe Stock / tolstnev
Ⓒ Adobe Stock, Jamesh77

Funded with £19.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand (UKCRED) will be led by the Environmental Change Institute's (ECI's) Professor Nick Eyre and bring together a world-leading and multi-disciplinary group of researchers.

They will look to lead whole systems research on energy demand in the UK. They will champion research that is inter-disciplinary and whole systems, focusing on the energy demand aspects of the transition to a secure and affordable low carbon energy system, and the existing excellent single-disciplinary and component-related research.

Professor Eyre said: “The goals of a secure, affordable, low carbon energy system are only achievable if energy demand is reduced, decarbonised and made more flexible. Understanding how these changes can happen is a major inter-disciplinary research challenge.

The UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand gives us a major opportunity to address this challenge, building on existing excellent UK research. We aim to play a leading role in global research, and for the Centre to act as a hub, enabling all UK energy demand research to have more coordinated impact on business and policy decisions.”

The proposed programme of research will have several themes that align well with elements of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, especially ‘Improving Business and Industry Efficiency’, ‘Improving our Homes’ and ‘Accelerating the Shift to Low Carbon Transport’.

The Centre involves over 40 academics at 13 institutions across the UK and Professor Eyre will be supported by a team of seven Co-Directors who have a balance of skills, covering the key energy demand sectors - buildings, transport and industry - and a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds.

Collectively they have almost 200 person years of experience in energy demand research, with an emphasis on technology, innovation and systems perspectives. The Co-Directors all have a track record of strong commitment to inter-disciplinary research. They have played leading roles in all the key research council investments in energy demand research, including the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the End Use Energy Demand (EUED) Centres.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: “This new Centre for Research on Energy Demand will play an important role in developing policy and practical innovations that can help the UK address energy demand over the coming decades. The inter-disciplinary nature of the research means we can get a much clearer picture of what needs to be done, both technologically and socially, to bring about change in energy use and demand. The team led by Professor Eyre are of a high calibre and I am confident they will make a big difference to the long term ambitions of the UK to meet its international obligations.”

The UKCRED involves the following institutions:

  • University of Oxford
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Reading
  • UCL
  • Loughborough University
  • Lancaster University
  • The University of Manchester
  • University of Sussex
  • University of Surrey
  • LSE
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of the West of England
  • University of York

Professor Nick Eyre led the ECI's Lower Carbon Futures team until last year when he took on the RCUK Energy Demand Champion role. The Lower Carbon Futures team are influential in UK energy policy discussions and house internationally recognised experts in the human dimensions of energy use. Since 1993, they have been a leading player in research relating to the transition to a low carbon future and have won major grants relating to energy demand. ECI were a founding partner in the UK Energy Research Centre in 2004, leading a programme on reducing energy demand, and laying the foundations for this new endeavour, to lead the new UK Centre for Research and Energy Demand.

"We aim to play a leading role in global research, and for the Centre to act as a hub, enabling all UK energy demand research to have more coordinated impact on business and policy decisions."


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