CREDS Mid-term review action plan: Delivery status

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03 February, 2023

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Recommendations from an independent panel review of CREDS’ progress at the mid-term of the programme.

An independent panel reviewed CREDS’ progress at the mid-term of the investment. Their recommendations are numbered and followed by a paragraph describing the actions agreed as a response by the CREDS Advisory Board and UKRI.

The second paragraph for each recommendation sets out progress against these actions. Further details are available in our two Annual Reports published in 2021 and 2022.

1. Include a cross-cutting challenge-led work package that develops integration across the entire programme

Use the remaining Flexible Fund for cross-cutting work on learnings from the pandemic for the challenge of net-zero

The final project has been commissioned and is ongoing until December 2023. It includes investigations into – space heating in buildings & travel patterns pre, during and post pandemic, local green recovery packages for city regions post-pandemic and modelling of heat and transport decarbonisation pathways.

2. Consider energy demand interactions between sectors – for example, heat and transport.

Ensure CREDS Final Project includes interactions between heating and transport electrification

The Positive Low Energy Futures project included quantitative assessment of many interactions between sectors, including buildings, transport, industry and food. The final project includes both heat and transport with a work package on modelling of combined heat and transport electrification.

3. Ensure that the risks associated with the approach of appointing ECRs in more senior positions are effectively managed

Include risks associated with ECR project leadership in the next revision of the Risk Register

The risk register has been revised accordingly. We provided two induction meetings to train the new PIs in Q3 2021. We have mentoring arrangements in place and the PIs are fully integrated into our theme structure and governance procedures. We have encountered no substantial problems. Most projects are led by experienced researchers.

4. Shift engagement with stakeholders to more solutions-focussed discussions and recommendations

Develop and undertake ‘spotlight’ campaigns

We have held four Spotlight campaigns.

  1. EDI topics with 3 webinars (see 11)
  2. Positive Low Energy Future promotion (see 6)
  3. International webinar & podcast series (see 8)
  4. Solution-focuse policy discussions with bespoke workshops to address specific asks such as: net-zero governance, digitalisation, energy advice related to smart meter data, lessons from the pandemic on heating and mobility and flexibility metrics.

Throughout 2023, the focus of the Director, Theme leaders and Core Team will be on engagement and impact around our published key findings and the suite of assets available to meet different audiences’ needs.

5. Consider the aims and research programme of the Centre, whether they still align and are reflective of the future evidence needs

Change CREDS aim to: “to understand the role of energy demand change in accelerating the transition to a zero carbon energy system, including the technical, social and governance challenges of demand reduction, flexible demand and use of decarbonised energy”.

Change agreed and implemented.

6. Include a cross-cutting challenge-led work package that develops integration across the entire programme

Ensure high impact for the cross-cutting project on Low Energy Demand Scenarios.

This project, now known as Positive Low Energy Futures, is complete. It involved integrated work between 17 researchers across five CREDS themes.

It has been published in Nature Energy (a high-impact journal) and promoted extensively to key stakeholders and the national media, including a parliamentary launch to MPs, peers and senior civil servants, to the APPGs on net-zero and intelligent Energy and PRASEG, and to a meeting of all departmental Chief Scientific Advisors. International reach has been through the Energy Demand changes Induced by Technological and Social innovations (EDITS) network and a plenary presentation to the European Council for an energy efficient economy. It has led to extensive follow-on work with the Government Office of Science and the Climate Change Committee, and discussions are ongoing with the Scottish Government.

7. Evaluate current stakeholder network identifying where there are gaps

Review stakeholder networks for business, local authorities and international research

Completed as part of the revised communications and engagement strategy and plan (CES Plan). Also published on the CREDS website.

8. Investigate how lessons can be learned via international engagement and how these might be applicable and implemented in the UK

Review and revise international engagement strategy

The CES Plan has been revised to adopt post-pandemic learnings. We ran four international webinars on mass retrofit, energy demand reduction in IPCC, price elasticity, and radical policy options, all with collaborations of CREDS and international speakers to share lessons. More are planned in 2023. We also made three into series of podcasts and participated in the key international modelling network (EDITS). We also had a major impact at the leading European conference in the field, eceee (European Council for and Energy Efficient Economy) conference 2022 Summer Study, where we ran two plenary sessions, three workshops and gave 11 paper presentations.

9. Develop a broader and more meaningful engagement strategy across the whole system both in the UK and internationally

Revise Communications and Engagement Strategy and Plan (CES Plan)

The review of the CES Plan has been completed, and agreed by the CREDS Advisory Board and UKRI. It focuses our resources on key stakeholders, – particularly key Whitehall departments, Scottish Government and targeted business associations and NGOs. The revised aim of CREDS (see 5) ensures that it is clear that we are not just focusing on energy efficiency but across the whole energy system through demand flexibility, and not only technological issues but also people-based, including governance.

10. Identify fast-track routes for implementation of solutions so there are no missed opportunities

As part of CES Plan review, retain some uncommitted time for the Core Team and Theme leaders that can be used for ‘rapid response’, including requests for media input.

This was agreed as part of the CES Plan. We continue to make rapid responses on key issues, notably to government on its climate and energy affordability / security strategies, and through many high-profile media appearances. We have set up a ‘rapid response’ process and budget allocation within the Flexible Fund that allows us to fund our staff to deal with these requests. We have also funded a part-time Government Affairs Manager to regularly meet key stakeholders so that these requests can be identified and actioned on the timescales needed.

11. Develop a set of benchmarks / performance criteria that can be used to define world-class research and identify what themes are going to need assistance to achieve this by the end of the project

Review research quality through individual meetings of theme leaders with the Director

This series of meetings was completed. No unresolved quality issues were identified. We continue to monitor and record progress on both research output and impact through our own quarterly reporting and impact monitoring spreadsheet processes and UKRI contractual requirements (annual reports and Researchfish). Support for research quality within CREDS includes pre-prints and publishing guidance on transparency, reproducibility and quality in research – video series. Further work in CREDS on data quality and archiving within the energy demand field is ongoing.

12. Undertake a gap analysis of CREDS, clarify what is in and out of scope for the Centre, and identify where improvements can be made, particularly in areas such as finance, transport, behavioural economics, and societal issues

Support UKRI to review the energy demand research landscape and priorities

This review has now been delegated by UKRI to the new Energy Demand Research Champions. CREDS remains happy to participate.

13. Ensure EDI is championed and integrated within all research themes

Spotlight campaign on EDI

Appoint researcher to scope the research agenda on racial equality and energy demand

We continue to have an EDI Working Group and have appointed an EDI Manager (two days a week). She is available on demand to answer EDI queries from the themes. She has also developed guidance notes on inclusive language and recruitment. The EDI Spotlight included webinars on inclusive leadership, diverse voices, and neurodiversity in academia. We launched, collated and published a blog about the Amplify Project – a confidential forum for members of the energy research community to share their own stories of workplace bullying and harassment. We continue to undertake specific EDI activities, including a survey on EDI progress within CREDS and supporting other UKRI-funded consortia on these issues e.g. ECR net-zero conference and Cross consortium engagement meeting (CCEM) covering 12 consortia.

The racial justice researcher appointment has been made. One workshop has been held jointly with the Runnymede Trust. Interim results will be discussed at a workshop in May, leading to publication of a research needs agenda. The project will be completed in December 2023.

14. Revisit the EDI Plan to include measures of success and have greater emphasis on actions

Review EDI plan

The EDI Manager has led a review of the EDI Plan in collaboration with the EDI working group, leading to a more focused plan and an ongoing review of impact. A report evaluating the progress of the plan is being prepared.

15. Reflect on the role CREDS has in delivering Responsible Research and Innovation and promote good practices and case studies where appropriate

Review research programme against the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation

We have completed this review and concluded that our research programme in consistent with the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation. We continue to publish case studies and guidance (see Supporting research section) for both researchers within the consortium and our wider hub role, for the Energy Demand Research Network. Topics covered include research funding landscape, communications, engagement and impact, EDI and research quality.

16. Develop and implement a succession planning strategy to ensure researchers are supported and developed in all stages of their careers

Continue to support CREDS researchers through mentoring, training and development opportunities

We continue to support researcher training, most recently through an impact training programme where all researchers have a had the opportunity to understand the concept of the journey from output to impact and the process to achieve it and develop an impact plan for their own work. The core team are liaising with each theme to provide support to deliver these plans. Individual development reviews are carried out by line managers and requests are actioned where possible. Effective succession planning remains very difficult due to UKRI funding cycles. Jobs, training and career development opportunities are collated and shared across the consortium on a regular basis via the 2-weekly internal newsletter Consortium update.

17. Influence institutional cultures where these inhibit more effective working practices and limit the career opportunities for interdisciplinary early and mid-career researchers.

Continue to advocate for change to support interdisciplinary research within our institutions

We continue to advocate for interdisciplinary research nationally, and for recognition that CREDS work is interdisciplinary. Within our institutions, many CREDS staff press for better recognition of the challenges facing interdisciplinary researchers.

The integration projects (see 3) and the final project (see 1) within the Flexible Fund have funded interdisciplinary projects within CREDS using our own criteria and which has allowed career opportunities for interdisciplinary ECR & mid-career researchers.

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