Energy demand reduction has a key role to play if the UK is to meet net zero targets by 2050. A new national Energy Demand Research Centre will build an evidence base for understanding the impact of energy demand reduction, from the perspectives of what low energy demand futures may be like, how energy demand could become more flexible, what place-based solutions, skills and policies are needed, how energy demand can be embedded in governance and what does energy demand reduction mean from an equity perspective.
The centre, led by Prof Mari Martiskainen at the Universities of Sussex and Prof Sara Walker, University of Newcastle, and including ten other universities, will investigate how domestic, industrial and transport energy demand reduction can be delivered on a local and national level across the UK. The work of the centre will be divided into five themes:
- Futures (led by Prof John Barret, Leeds): to understand the underlying conditions needed to deliver a low energy future in the UK to contribute to rapid greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions.
- Flexibility (led by Prof Jacopo Torriti, Reading): to assess the needs, impacts and implications of demand-side flexibility – i.e. the capacity to use energy in different locations at different times of the day or the year – and to explore solutions that enable effective and equitable deployment of demand-side flexibility.
- Place (led by Prof Greg Marsden, Leeds): to build a new approach to place-based approaches and policy making which provides actionable insights, tools and processes which enable an acceleration of the Net Zero transition.
- Governance (led by Dr Kate Pangbourne, Leeds): to develop a research and action programme that contributes to the Centre’s delivery of short-term impact and identifies feasible models, policies and pathways to overall energy demand reductions and decarbonization.
- Equity (led by Prof Karen Turner, Strathclyde): to generate rigorous, interdisciplinary and actionable evidence and knowledge on how different energy demand solutions can deliver an affordable, clean and more equitable Net Zero energy system.
The centre has been awarded £15 million from the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).