New UKERC Phase 3 Research Fund projects announced

23 Jun 2017

The UK Energy Research Centre has announced the latest round of projects under its Phase 3 Research Fund. 

Three new projects, the first looking at the the integration of low-carbon heat pathways with storage (Loughborough), the second assessing the impact of multi-level policymaking on the UK energy system (Stirling) and the third looking at the impact of non-energy policies on the energy system (Strathclyde), will all receive funding. 

The Loughborough project will deliver new insights and modelling methodologies to support the successful implementation of a flexible cost-effective low-carbon heat architecture that integrates electricity and gas assets with short and long-term energy storage. This will improve our understanding of the levels of seasonal and diurnal flexibility needed to meet future demand.

The project will also explore how best to manage peak demand on electrical distribution networks, evaluate the potential of power-to-gas (hydrogen or synthetic methane) and biogas to decarbonise the natural gas network, and look at ways of incentivising this, and develop and populate the open data environment required to improve decision making.

The Strathchlyde project will look at the impact of non-energy policies on the energy system. The team has developed a number of purpose built models designed to capture the interdependence of the energy and non-energy systems, but to date these models have typically been used to assess the impact of shocks to the energy system. This project will develop the first systematic, national, regional and sectoral analysis of the economic and energy system consequences of key non-energy policies, focusing on three key areas: economic and fiscal policy, devolution and localism, business, and industrial and innovation policy (focusing on the forthcoming Industrial Strategy).

The Stirling project looks at the importance of multi-level policymaking. The UK Government has delegated some aspects of energy and climate policies to Scotland and Wales, giving them executive and legislative competences in areas such as planning, building regulations, the environment, and land use, enabling them to forge distinctive paths in areas such as renewables, fracking, and energy efficiency. EU law has both influenced and constrained UK and devolved energy policies, limiting divergences but also facilitating greater cooperation across the island of Ireland.

The project will examine the impact of multi-level decision-making on different areas of policy affecting the energy system, and the extent to which the ‘law on the page’ predicts the willingness and ability of each government to make authoritative choices. We will explore the impact of Brexit on devolved competences and capacities, and ask key questions such as how policymaking affects the energy system, who is responsible for reducing energy demand, and the impact of Brexit on UK and develoved policy on energy supply. 

Professor Jim Watson, Director of UKERC, comments: ‘I’m very pleased to welcome the new project teams to UKERC. They will strengthen UKERC’s capacity to understand important dimensions of the UK’s energy transition. The project on heat and flexibility will improve the evidence base on how heating systems could be decarbonised successfully. Two new projects on policy will improve understanding of the relationship between Scottish and UK energy policies in the context of the Brexit process; and the way in which wider fiscal and economic policy choices shape the energy system.’

For further information, please contact Ioanna Ketsopoulou