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Materials & Products

Our Materials & Products work is focused on researching the opportunities available for reducing energy demand in UK industry. It brings together new and novel approaches with a joint programme between industry and government.

Materials & Products is one of three energy-use sectors we research.

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Industrial energy demand accounts for 20% of the UK’s total energy consumption. In addition, the same amount of energy is required from non-UK industry to satisfy our consumption. While industrial energy demand has reduced significantly over the past 40 years, due to energy efficiency improvements and changes in our industrial structure, these reductions have slowed. To understand the potential of future options for energy demand reduction, whilst still recognising the importance of the industry sector for employment and economic growth, requires a detailed understanding of the outputs of industry (i.e. materials and products) and how these can be produced and consumed more efficiently.

To address this we are:

Identifying remaining energy efficiency opportunities

While not all energy efficiency options have been adopted, a considerable proportion of “quick wins” have been taken-up. This makes the challenge for finding further reductions even harder. In addition, the current understanding of future industrial energy and the demand for materials and products is very limited. Our projects in this area assess energy reduction options in UK industry and advance work on examining future energy and emissions under a number of scenarios.

Exploring how to change our use of materials and products throughout the supply chain to deliver a reduction in industry energy

Through a detailed consideration of the opportunities throughout the product life cycle, from initial supply chains, to the means of distribution, and throughout its use and final disposal provides the broadest range of mitigation options. Our projects in this area are providing detailed analysis of the materials and products supply chain.

Creating policy-relevant scenarios of the relationship between industrial strategy and future industrial energy demand

To be effective in mitigating climate change, technical and policy initiatives to reduce energy demand must have significant impacts at the economy-wide level. Our work in this area pulls together all the potential mitigation options and considers the wider implications of different industrial futures for the UK.

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This project looks at energy reduction options and the barriers faced by UK industry for adoption.

April 2018 to January 2019

This project looks at the relationship between the energy used to manufacture, market and dispose of a product and the energy the product uses during its operational life products.

July 2018 to August 2019

This project looks at how to improve economic data analysis estimations, estimates of work outputs from industrial processes and inter-relationships between industry sectors.

October 2018 to May 2019
Light reflections, photo by Andrew Haimerl on Unsplash

Clean Growth Strategy

The UK published the ‘Clean Growth Strategy’ on 13th October 2017 outlining the broad objectives and aspirations to meet the nation’s climate goals. What is less well documented is a detailed plan of how this will be achieved. Our work is focusing on drawing together existing research to analyse the energy demand aspects of the strategy. We will assess where additional policy and measures are required and identify important research gaps that we need to fill.

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