U.K. to launch energy demand research centers


Greg Barker,
U.K. Energy and
Climate Change
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — November 14, 2012 – Five research centers are being established at universities in the U.K. to investigate what drives household and business energy demand and how to change future behavior.

The five End Use Energy Demand Centers will be funded by the Research Councils U.K. and project partners at a cost of £39 million.

The five Centers are:

  • RCUK Center for Energy Epidemiology at UCL, which will use novel approaches to ‘energy epidemiology’ to maximize the value of existing and very large future sources of energy-related data (‘big data’)
  • Centre for Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains at Brunel University, partnered with the universities of Manchester and Birmingham, which will develop innovative approaches, processes and technologies for energy demand reduction in the food chain
  • UK Indemand Centre at Cambridge, partnered with the universities of Bath, Leeds and Nottingham Trent, which will focus on reducing the use of both energy, and energy intensive materials, in the industries that supply the U.K.’s physical needs
  • DEMAND: Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand Centre at Lancaster, partnered with the universities of Aberdeen, Manchester, Leeds, Reading, Sheffield, Sussex, and UCL, which will work across the sectoral boundaries of mobility and building-related energy use
  • Research Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand at University of Sussex, partnered with University of Oxford, which will develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the different types of low energy innovations in the U.K. to inform the future development of energy and climate policies.

The establishment of these Centers forms one of the initiatives in a new Energy Efficiency Strategy, which is aimed to harmonize and expand existing and new activities in a single policy.

Cost effective investment in energy efficiency is estimated to save 196 TWh in 2020, equivalent to 22 power stations – and a reduction of 11 percent on the business as usual scenario.

Other key initiatives to kickstart the strategy include an energy efficiency labelling trial that shows the lifetime running costs of household appliances with John Lewis. A similar trial in Norway showed this information led to consumers purchasing goods that are more energy efficient.

There will also be a drive on financing energy efficiency for business and the public sector, including a nationwide rollout of the RE:FIT public sector energy efficiency program.

“This is Britain’s first comprehensive Energy Efficiency Strategy and sets out the action we are taking now, as well as what we will do in the future to ensure the UK continues to be a global leader in reducing energy use,” said Energy and Climate Change minister Greg Barker.

An accompanying assessment of behavior change programs indicates that these can be effective in encouraging people to use less energy in their home. However, how an intervention is structured and implemented affects the level of savings per household.

An estimate has also been made of the potential savings nationwide from energy saving behaviors in the home. The top ones are turning the thermostat down by 2 degrees from 20°C to 18°C, which would save 33 TWh annually, turning the thermostat down by 1 degree from 19°C to 18°C, which would save 16 TWh annually, and delaying the start of heating from October to November, which would save 11 TWh annually.

Another accompanying assessment of the non-domestic sector suggests the most successful strategies to deliver lasting change use a combination of technology change, feedback to users and norm activation. However, motivations to adopt energy strategy vary between organizations and sectors, with the more energy intensive the sector, the more energy efficiency opportunities are noticed and acted upon.