Can energy efficiency deliver on its promises?

This post is by Paul Brockway, research fellow at the University of Leeds. He examines roles and relationships between energy, economy and society as part of UKERC’s research programme. This blog was initially published on the Green Alliance Blog. Energy efficiency is often seen as a win-win: falling energy use benefits consumers and the environment, whilst …

Sand and Sun, CIED’s Summer School has begun

Thoughts and reflections on CIED Summer School 2017 By Bettina Zenz The CIED Summer School on ‘Accelerating Innovation to Reduce Energy Demand’ took place from 10-12th of July 2017 at the University of Sussex, Brighton. CIED’s first ever Summer School was certainly much anticipated by organisers and attendees alike, and brought together 28 doctoral, postdoc …

PV or not PV – the question for New Zealand

It costs households more and it is hard to justify on environmental grounds (in a country that already gets 80% of its electricity from renewable sources).  But New Zealanders are installing solar PV like never before.  How to make sense of this seemingly irrational behaviour?  CIED Visiting Fellow Dr Janet Stephenson sheds some light on …

Screenshot of CIED website. Credit: CIED

CIED’s new website

As you have likely seen, the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand has a new website. Our main aim for doing this work was make sure that you could find our great research more easily. We also wanted to build it on a web content management system that was easier to use than our current content management system and with responsive design.

low energy buildings

Don’t throw out the energy efficiency baby with the Brexit bathwater

Will Brexit put energy efficiency progress in the UK at risk, ask Jan Rosenow, Pedro Guertler and Richard Cowart of RAP (Regulatory Assistance Project)? In electric appliances and heating systems – probably not. The biggest risk is in the building sector.UK policymakers will need to put efficiency first if they want to reach carbon targets …

Transforming the Low Energy Housing sector

“Insulation is not sexy. Energy efficiency is not sexy. Putting more insulation in your walls that you will never see and you will never even know is there, is not sexy.  But your bills are a bit lower,” said Alex Hunt, a sustainable building consultant and partner with Bright Green Homes. Is it time for …

The historical foundations of UK energy policy since the 1940s

Guest blog by Dr David Vincent Since 1945, UK energy policy has undergone seismic shifts, starting with the energy industry nationalisations of the late 1940s and moving on to energy industry privatisations of the 1980s and 90s. These shifts were tempered with some ground-breaking, longer term thinking with respect to the climate change mitigation aspects …

lightswitch on white wall

Efficiency First: a new paradigm for a sustainable energy system

The UK’s energy policy is at crossroads. Ambitious carbon targets, an aging energy infrastructure, rising fuel poverty and a legacy of fossil fuel investment warrant bold political decisions to ensure the UK transitions to a sustainable low-carbon energy system. Because of the long-term nature of investment in energy infrastructure, decisions made over the next five …

Energy efficiency: the sweet spot for an economic stimulus after Brexit

Brexit has opened a new era in British politics. Economic uncertainties and a potential slowdown in investment are likely to stay with us in the short to medium term. The Chancellor has made clear that he is prepared to ‘reset’ fiscal policy after Brexit and the Prime Minister announced the launch of a ‘proper industrial …

Is Brexit an opportunity to rethink UK carbon pricing?

The UK’s exit from the European Union will make changes to UK carbon pricing unavoidable. Given the complexities and inefficiencies of the current policy mix, could Brexit be viewed as an opportunity for radical policy change in this area? And, if so, what is likely to be the best outcome? The UK played a critical …

Exergy Economics Workshop 2016

Over 40 economists, engineers and social scientists converged last week on the sunny University of Sussex campus for the second International Exergy Economics Workshop. Organised by the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED) and the Centre on Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIE-MAP), the workshop was a chance for researchers to come together to …

Makerspaces: Creating inclusive spaces for sustainable innovations

Making stuff is all the rage these days. But how does sustainable development fit into this enthusiasm? The White House is celebrating a Week of Making from June 16-23 2016 after hosting its first Maker Faire in 2014 to spark a “grassroots renaissance in American making and manufacturing“. The hope is that by exposing people …

Energy Efficiency: Time to get out of reverse gear

by Jan Rosenow & Richard Cowart In recent years across the UK, citizens, government, and the business community have all demonstrated a willingness to lead the world in the fight against climate change. So the mystery today is – why is the UK walking away from energy efficiency, the most effective and least-cost way of …

Limits to growth or opportunities for prosperity?

Last week, in a hot and crowded room deep within the Houses of Parliament, myself and fellow researchers from The Sussex Energy Group (SEG) and The Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand attended the launch event of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Limits to Growth. The APPG, chaired by Green MP Caroline Lucas and …

Intermediary actors in low energy transitions

Intermediary actors can be crucial for bringing about low energy transitions. This blog explores what they are and provides some key insights about intermediaries in low energy transitions. It has long been recognised that changing the way we produce and use energy is of crucial importance to tackle the challenges related to depleting fuel resources and …

What would Brexit mean for UK energy efficiency policy?

Only 10 weeks and UK voters will make the most profound decision of this decade – will Britain stay or leave the European Union? There have been numerous analyses of what the implications of a so-called Brexit might be. Those include the economic impacts, security, and sovereignty. In this blog I will discuss one specific …

How good is your model? Quantifying quality research

Our latest EPSRC-funded research carried out in CIED (and led by SPRU, Sussex) has something new to say about the testing of statistical models. Available now in the journal Energy Economics and authored by Lee Stapleton, Steve Sorrell and Tim Schwanen, you can access the paper here The paper estimates the so-called ‘direct rebound effect’ associated …

Stimulating ‘creative destruction’ to transform how we use energy

By Paula Kivimaa & Florian Kern Given the urgency of climate change, it is unfortunate that the recent ‘reset’ of UK energy policy missed a big opportunity. That is to take a more strategic approach to developing public policies to drive the rapid, transformative change required to reduce energy use and decarbonise its supply in …

Tackling Fuel Poverty – Whose responsibility is it?

By Mari Martiskainen and Sarah Schepers, Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, November 2015 Fuel poverty – an issue affecting 2.35 million people in England alone, one that has wide-reaching causes and implications not only for those directly affected, but also for the wider society and economy. Annually, It costs the NHS approximately £1.36m as …

Moving beyond products to material culture

BLOG 2 Prototyping or debating sustainable developments in makerspaces? Adrian Smith, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex September 2015 In the previous blog I introduced some of the diverse ways that makerspaces are helping cultivate sustainable developments. Admittedly, these initiatives do not represent the totality of makerspaces, where many projects and activities are oblivious …

Why should we seek sustainable developments in makerspaces?

BLOG 1 Why should we seek sustainable developments in makerspaces? Adrian Smith, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Community-based workshops like hackerspaces, fablabs and makerspaces, equipped with design, prototyping and fabrication tools have spread rapidly in recent years. Interest in the social, economic and environmental possibilities of these spaces has grown too. Amidst the …

How Scotland could make the most of its energy efficiency policies (and why the rebound effect could be a good thing)

CIED project partners at the Centre for Energy Policy (CEP) at University of Strathclyde together with Climate XChange recently held an event ‘How Scotland could make the most of its energy efficiency policies’. Hosted by the Scottish Government, the event presented insights from recent CEP research, including work on household energy efficiency and rebound effects. …

Highlights of the 2015 ECEEE Summer Study conference

The ECEEE Summer Study is the ‘work hard / play hard’  conference of the energy research world. Set in the beautiful Giens Peninsula on the south coast of France, intense sessions, plenaries and informal meetings co-existed with swimming in the Mediterranean, petanque tournaments and long, delicious lunches and dinners, where local wine (efficiently) fuelled more …

Reflections, rebound, a week in France

The European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE) convenes an international conference every two years. This, spanning the 1st-6th June 2015, was my first experience of this biennial event located on a dazzling peninsula in the South of France at Belambra Les Criques. The scenery there is stunning and the weather was glorious too …

Energy debates must not forget those less able to speak for themselves

Reflections from the 12th eceee summer study As Colin Nolden mentioned in his post yesterday,four members of the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand attended the eceee Summer Study held near Hyeres, south of France, during 1-6th June 2015. The bi-annual eceee’s Summer Study has been held since 1993 and it focuses on energy efficiency …

The Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency

On Monday 20th April, the International Energy Agency convened a workshop at its headquarters in Paris to discuss the state-of-the-art in evaluating the multiple benefits of energy efficiency. This workshop was attended by around 50 people: evaluators, policy makers and academics from over a dozen countries. The Sussex Energy Group was represented by Lee Stapleton. …

Why We Need to Shift Focus from Energy Supply to Reducing Demand

Mari Martiskainen asks whether it is time to have a real debate about moving our focus from energy supply to realising the benefits of energy efficiency. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported last week that the energy efficiency market was worth between $310 billion and $360 billion in 2011; thanks to energy efficiency improvements in …

Tackling the existing building stock as a real energy policy priority

By Mari Martiskainen and Florian Kern, Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, SPRU Those familiar with the UK’s energy efficiency policy for buildings are aware that back in 2006 the then Labour government announced that all new domestic buildings would need to be ‘zero carbon’ from 2016 to help meet the government’s energy and climate …

­Davey: Energy Efficiency Key Agenda in Upcoming Elections

“We need to see energy efficiency as part of the nation’s infrastructure programme”. This was the charge of Ed Davey, Liberal MP and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. Davey was speaking at an Association for the Conservation of Energy event to say thanks to outgoing director Andrew Warren, often referred to as the cheerleader …

What future for the technological innovation systems approach in analysing sustainability transition

In this blog, Dr Florian Kern discusses the future of the Technological Innovation Systems approach, identifying three key challenges facing the framework. Today the 5th annual gathering of the community studying sustainability transitions (organised in the Sustainability Transitions Research Network) starts in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Such conferences always present a good opportunity to step back …

Makers, fixers and circular economies

The connection between grassroots making and fixing movements and innovation for low energy demand may not be immediately obvious. When thinking about energy demand and resource use it is reasonable to focus attention on immediate and intensive activities, such as heating homes or offices, or making energy-using products more efficient. However, if we think about …

Can the UK achieve an energy efficiency revolution?

The Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED) was officially launched at a well-attended joint event with the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group at Portcullis House, London on 12th June 2014. Dr Alan Whitehead MP chaired a vigorous debate on the future energy-efficiency revolution – introduced by five panellists and followed by broader and …

UK’s energy efficiency policy ‘not fully coherent’ –the difficulties of making complex policy mixes work

A recent commentary piece in Ends report (UK’s energy efficiency plan not fully coherent’, by Paul Hatchwell, 7th May) is critical of DECC’s National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEAP).In the article Hatchwell refers to an assessment by the EU-wide Coalition for Energy Savings which concluded that the ‘UK’s plans were considered ‘assessable’€, but classed as …

Scrapping the German Renewable Energy Act?

When the German Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation (EFI)  released its annual report to the German Chancellor Merkel a couple of weeks ago, two of the 260 pages caught most of the attention of the media. Two pages which presented the conclusion that the German Renewable Energies Act (Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz, short: EEG) with its …

Utilities transforming into energy service providers?

A recent Financial Times (FT) article ‘Crisis-hit European utilities square up to technological revolution‘, argues that the large utilities have underperformed compared to the broader European equity market and, according to the CEO of RWE, are facing ‘the worst structural crisis in the history of energy supp€ly’. The article reports that some utilities are divesting, …