Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

New UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have announced a new research centre, the UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand (UKCRED). The centre will develop and deliver internationally leading research, focusing on energy demand from a systemic, socio-technical perspective.

Funded with £19.5 million from EPSRC and ESRC, it will bring together a world-leading and multi-disciplinary group of researchers and be led by the RCUK Energy Demand Research Champion, Professor Nick Eyre, at the University of Oxford.

The Centre will look to lead whole systems research on energy demand in the UK.

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 including the University of Leeds. Jillian Anable, Professor of Transport and Energy at the Institute for Transport Studies, will be leading the ‘Transport and Mobility’ theme, while John Barrett, Professor of Energy and Climate Policy at the School of Earth and Environment, is leading the research on ‘Materials and Products.’

Transport and Mobility

The transport theme is structured around three whole-system challenges to reducing energy in use. Firstly, activities, people and places with high or increasing demand, including those with disproportionately high demands in the household and for mobility, including long distance travel.

Secondly, the potential for flexing mobility demands over time, mode and place and the implications of increased vehicle electrification on the electricity network.

Thirdly, the acceleration of local transport policy innovation and deployment. This research will explore the institutional structures, governance contexts and social processes that underpin (and can potentially accelerate) the diffusion of local innovation in transport policy.

By bringing together results from these projects, and working with other RCUK investments on freight and shipping, the researchers will develop state-of-the-art models for transport energy demand, in the areas of local fleets and plug-in vehicle charging strategies. They will continue the successful Commission on Travel Demand forum established as part of the EUED DEMAND Centre to bring insights to and from decision-makers.

Materials and Products

The key challenge for UK industry is to reduce energy demand while increasing energy and resource productivity by changing the use of materials and products throughout the whole supply chain and exploiting the remaining energy efficiency options in energy intensive processes.

The theme will identify the opportunities for reducing energy demand in UK industry by bringing together novel energy and economy modelling with a co-created programme of research with industry and government. The desired outcome of the research is a clear pathway for UK industry to reduce energy and emissions by while playing its key role in the wider UK economy.

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.”

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.”

Further information

For more information on the research centre, visit the EPSRC website.