Our Flexibility work is focused on researching the changing relationship between the timing and extent of energy demand on the one hand, and the provision and consumption of energy services on the other.
Flexibility is one of the cross-cutting issues we research.
We refer to Flexibility as the capacity to use energy in different locations at different times of day or year (via storage or by changing the timing of activity); to switch fuels; to smooth or create peaks in demand or, in the case of mobility, to re-arrange destinations and journeys in ways that reduce energy demand and/or congestion.
Flexibility is not only about adapting supply to demand or switching fuel to match existing patterns, it is also about recognising that patterns are not fixed: they vary and can partly be shaped by technologies. For example, institutions already intervene to shape patterns of energy demand, but the strategies used tend to work in the background with the aim of minimising disruption to services. The challenge is to find opportunities to adapt social rhythms to better match peaks and troughs of renewable supply.
To address this, we are:
Understanding how energy demand is bound up with the rhythm of society and what people do
Our work in this area is about ensuring we have a detailed understanding of the contemporary timing of energy demand – domestic, non-domestic and in relation to the mobility of things and people.
Assessing interventions aimed at reducing peaks and increasing flexibility in the timing of energy demand
Our work in this area looks at technologies, pricing mechanisms and shifts in institutional timings to better understand how, where, and when people demand energy and whether they are likely to enable a more flexible management of demand.