iPhone in evening light Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Digital Society

Our Digital Society work is focused on researching the effects that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is having have on energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Digital Society is one of the cross-cutting issues we research.

Since the 1970s, ICTs have driven a new industrial revolution that is transforming industrial structures, business strategies, employment patterns, consumer preferences and social practices around the world, but their impact on energy demand remains unclear.

To address this, we are:

Investigating the impact of ICTs on economy-wide energy consumption

While it has been argued that the ICT revolution is energy-saving and can form the basis of a new surge of green growth, this conclusion is contested. Our projects in this area look at the evidence on the impact of ICTs on energy consumption – both historical impacts and potential future impacts.

Exploring the potential for ICTs to deliver end-use services with much lower energy use

New business models are proliferating as entrepreneurs take up the multiple opportunities offered by ICTs and challenge established forms of economic organisation (e.g. taxi services, electricity markets). We are looking at what these potential models are, drawing on ideas from innovation theory.

Investigating how ICT diffusion influences energy-related user practices

Smart meters, automated vehicles, smart homes, and teleworking are some of the areas where the application of ICT might increasingly change user practices such as home working and changing leisure patterns. The UK has an ambitious target to fit all households with smart meters by 2020 – a technology being promoted on the grounds that it can both reduce energy demand enable flexibility in energy use patterns. Automated vehicles (AVs) could represent the most profound technological change in road transport since the rise of mass production, with reductions in energy demand being one of the many anticipated benefits.

Banner photo credit: Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Social entrepreneurship at the grid edge

This project provides an evidence base of how community groups are responding to opportunities for Community Led DSR and Collective Self-Consumption.

Business models in the digital society

This project looks at ‘consumer-centric’ business models which allow users to purchase high-quality energy services.

ICT energy consumption evidence

This project examines the current state of knowledge of the impact of ICTs on energy consumption.

Light reflections, photo by Andrew Haimerl on Unsplash

Our response to the Clean Growth Strategy

Shifting the focus: energy demand in a net-zero carbon UK is our first major cross-theme research report, and is a response to the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy.

The report proposes actions to strengthen and deliver the commitments in the Strategy, and seeks to answer the question: “what is the role for energy demand change in the transition to an energy system consistent with a net-zero carbon UK?”

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