Lights photo by David von Diemar on Unsplash

Meeting the UK’s energy demand challenge

20 September 2018

14:00 to 18:00

Our vision is to make the UK a leader in understanding the changes in energy demand needed for the transition to a secure and affordable low carbon energy system. This event explored the motivation behind CREDS, and the sort of innovations we might see in future.

Going further, faster and flexibly to meet our future energy needs. CREDS was launched at Methodist Central Hall Westminster, London.

Event report

CREDS was launched in September 2018 to help to make the UK a leader in making changes in energy demand so that we can move quickly to a secure and affordable low carbon energy system. This event explored the motivation behind CREDS, and the sort of innovations we might see in future.

Introduction – Jim Fleming, EPSRC & Claire Spooner, ESRC

Energy has been a major focus for UK research for the past 15 years, in support of the UK’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. CREDS has a remit to work as a united programme to raise the profile of energy demand research, and also to work as a hub for the wider energy demand research community.

Existing work on energy demand in the UK

A series of pioneering projects were presented. These have already provided insight into how better managing our energy demand can lead us to a fair, efficient and low-carbon energy system.

  • Centre for Energy Epidemiology (CEE)
    CEE was set up to collect and use existing data on energy use. The work has had a wide impact, including a rapid method for measuring heat loss through walls, quantifying additional benefits for energy efficiency (e.g. health), demonstrating the effectiveness of energy efficiency regulations and taking an interdisciplinary approach to research.
  • Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED)
    CIED research moves beyond technologies and energy supply to examine how energy innovations emerge and spread, and how this process is shaped by e.g. markets, government policy and social interactions. For example, work on domestic energy efficiency proposed three household engagement strategies: new business models, new forms of financing, and use of intermediaries.
  • Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIE-MAP)
    CIE-MAP aims to reduce industrial energy demand by looking at the whole supply chain: not just how materials are produced but whether they can be used more efficiently. Resource efficiency has the potential to deliver significant climate change mitigation impacts, but is traditionally seen as a waste, not climate change, issue. CIE-MAP has looked at developing a market for longer-lasting products, and attitudes to repair and how to create trust in new models of ownership and use.
  • Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand (DEMAND) Centre
    DEMAND asks fundamental questions about what energy is for, how is it is used, and how it is drawn through the energy system. DEMAND looked at the change and variation of energy demand in and over time; sites of social practice with rapid change; infrastructures and how they constitute demand; and social equity – and in how the pieces come together. Online resources, particularly animations, have been important in sharing DEMAND’s findings.
  • Centre for Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains (CSEF) 
    CSEF’s work takes a whole systems approach to energy demand reduction, looking at energy use throughout the food production process. Food is the UK’s largest manufacturing industry  and its highest value-added sector and food production is responsible for almost 30% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions. CSEF team worked closely with stakeholders, e.g. Innovate UK and developed innovative technology which is now in use in the sector.
  • Interdisciplinary Centre for Storage, Transformation and Upgrading of Thermal Energy (i-STUTE)
    i-STUTE is an interdisciplinary collaboration, bringing together social sciences and engineers to develop technologies and understand the markets for heating and cooling. For example, a roadmap for the data centre industry on reducing demand for cooling, an improved design for retail refrigeration systems and demonstrating demand response in test homes in Northern Ireland. Alongside this, researchers addressed the challenges of establishing new markets for these kind of technologies.

Launch of the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS)

This session was introduced and chaired by Joanne Wade (CEO, Association of the Conservation of Energy), Chair of the CREDS Advisory Board.

Nick Eyre – Director, CREDS

Society needs to reduce energy demand faster and further than ever before, and with renewable energy generation, we need to be able to manage this demand flexibly.

CREDS has three aims:

  • to transform energy demand research – by working across academic disciplines and developing genuinely innovative thinking;
  • to create impact in research, business and policy communities – by working with these groups from the start, not just at the end; and
  • to change public discourse – by persuading people of the critical role of energy demand.

CREDS will also support three inter-disciplinary energy demand challenges over the next five years. The first – decarbonisation of heat – is underway and there will be a call for two further challenges later in 2018: look out for more details on the CREDS website. Proposals will be invited under the themes of equity and justice, decarbonisation of difficult sectors, and co-benefits.

Juliet Davenport – CEO, Good Energy

Good management of energy demand is the only way forward for the energy sector, and there is an expectation that CREDS will put the intelligence into energy demand.

The energy system can no longer be thought of in isolation, and increasingly it is dependent on data and managing it well. The sector will have to embrace these and other challenges. Customers will interact differently with energy suppliers and increasingly energy providers will have to engage with customers who are older, vulnerable or less flexible, and to explore the opportunities that technology offers to reduce costs and provide new services.

Jim Skea – Imperial College & Co-chair, Working Group III, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

CREDS builds on a long foundation of energy demand work funded by the research councils, with the first programme in 1995 supported by ESRC. These are strong roots that have led to CREDS today. It is good to see that there is a strong connection between IPCC and CREDS, with many opportunities to include CREDS results in the next Assessment Report due in 2021*.

The ambition to limit global temperature rise to a 1.5°C target will depend both on very substantial reductions in fossil fuel use, as well as significant changes to the demand side. The IPCC’s future work will include a special report on transformations, including energy demand.

* The 6th Assessment Report (AR6) Working Group III (mitigation) will be published in August 2021.

Banner photo credit: David von Diemar on Unsplash