Years Active: 2004-2009

The environment provides the resources on which energy production is based. There are both positive and negative environmental consequences associated with the extraction, generation and use of energy. To maintain or enhance the health of the environment, we must integrate environmental knowledge with knowledge of the economy, engineering and society.

The Environmental Sustainability (ES) Theme in UKERC Phase I therefore cut across UKERC's vertical themes (Demand Reduction, Future Sources of Energy, and Energy Infrastructure and Supply). It interacted strongly with the cross-cutting Energy Systems and Modelling theme. The over-arching goal of the ES theme was to develop and demonstrate an approach that could be used to appraise consistently the relationships between the environment and all fuel cycles.

This theme was led by Dr David Howard of the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology, at the Lancaster Environment Centre with the support of the British Geological Survey and Edinburgh and Southampton Universities. 

Research Activity

The research topics covered were bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, transport and offshore renewables.

This theme aimed to:

  • Advise how to efficiently quantify and monitor changes in environmental resource and condition
  • Exploit our understanding and modelling of environmental processes and interactions
  • Highlight beneficial change
  • Propose and test ways to mitigate detrimental effects.


Past and current studies into the environmental aspects of energy generation have in general focused on single elements of the energy system (e.g. nuclear power, biomass).

Particular emphasis was given to (a) the energy "capacity" of the environment (and how this might be enhanced or used to best effect) and (b) the spatial and temporal features of the impacts of energy generation and demand patterns.

Key Outputs

All the working papers and research reports produced by this theme can be found in the UKERC Publications Library.