Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

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.

More detail on the UKERC website.


UKERC Projects

Relating energy practices to energy services.

The aim is build conceptual bridges between the two and develop a better understanding of the quantitative implications of practices and the qualitative aspects of services. A ‘practices’ approach arguably recognises the energy user as a more active participant in energy systems than a ‘services’ approach, an important consideration now that the role of the user in energy systems, and of the demand side generally, is increasingly acknowledged. We are addressing the role of energy policy in influencing practices and services through a PhD studentship (Sam Hampton).

People: Sarah Darby, Tina Fawcett, Sam Hampton

Decision-making on short timescales through demand response.

The project focuses on decisions required to balance the GB electricity system with increased intermittent power generation, new demands (e.g. electric vehicles and heat pumps), and use of ICT for controlling end use devices and the grid (smart grid). A range of decisions, e.g. on small scale generation, investment, storage and demand response may be important, and decision making is needed on timescales that pose challenges for distributed decision-makers. They have to develop the capacity to make decisions on very short timescales and/or cede control of those decisions to actors such as energy suppliers or aggregators. Either approach raises issues of risk, trust and accountability. In connection with this project, PhD student Yingqi Liu is researching interactions between demand response and demand reduction, including research on capacity market design.

People: Sarah Darby, Tina Fawcett, Sam Hampton

Energy implications of transport, providing new insights into the transition to electric vehicles and the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal

Ever wondered how transport decision-making varies across individual (consumers), organisational (fleet managers, local authorities) and policy (central government) levels? And how these decisions impact on energy systems? If so then this project may provide new evidence on answering current policy questions such as the impacts and energy/transport interdependencies of road transport electrification, air pollution mitigation and dwindling energy tax revenues.

The project is developing and using a number of system modelling tools and socio-technical approaches. The Transport Energy and Air pollution Model (TEAM) was used to investigate the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal by exploring unaccounted and future air pollutant emissions and energy use for cars in the UK.

People: Christian Brand