Lancaster University is leading one of only five new research centres in the UK that will look into the complexities of energy use across society.
The centres, which were announced this week, will 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.
They will look at how energy can be both saved and used more efficiently, supporting energy efficiency policy and contributing to cutting carbon use and greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.
Lancaster’s Centre, DEMAND: Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand, will work on transport and building-related energy use, focusing on how energy demand is made and met.
DEMAND will be directed by Professor Elizabeth Shove (Department of Sociology), with Professor Gordon Walker (Lancaster Environment Centre) as co-director, and will involve researchers at Lancaster across three faculties.
The five year research programme involves working in partnership with the Institute of Transport Studies at Leeds, the European Centre and Labs for Energy Efficiency Research at EDF R&D based in Paris and with researchers at the universities of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Reading, Sheffield, Sussex and UCL.
It will create new methods of data analysis, integrate historical research with energy-demand planning, and assess whether innovations in technology and infrastructure will work in the real world. The Centre’s research focuses on basic questions about what energy is for and how patterns of consumption and practice change.
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.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg 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 Chief Executive, 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 other four research centres are:
Big Data - at UCL – Director Professor Tadj Oreszczyn
Food - led by Brunel University partnered with the universities of Manchester and Birmingham – Director Professor Savvas Tassou
Materials Use - led by Cambridge – partnered with University of Bath, University of Leeds, Nottingham Trent University – Director Dr. Julian Allwood
Technological Transitions led by University of Sussex partnered with University of Oxford