Universities in £1.6m energy research projects

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has commissioned four ambitious projects worth £1.6m. The projects involve researchers from 11 universities and institutes across the UK and address three key energy […]

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By Kelvin Ross

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has commissioned four ambitious projects worth £1.6m.

The projects involve researchers from 11 universities and institutes across the UK and address three key energy issues: the potential contribution of carbon capture and storage; spatial aspects of UK bio-energy development; and local and community governance of energy.

UKERC research director professor Jim Skea said: “These projects form an integral part of UKERC’s ambitious research programme. These are high quality projects which will make a real contribution to knowledge and to the transition towards a secure, low carbon energy economy in the years ahead.”

The first project is titled ‘Carbon capture and storage: realising the potential’, and will be led by Dr Jim Watson at the University of Sussex. This project will conduct an independent, inter-disciplinary assessment of CCS viability from now to 2030, by a three-institution partnership from the Universities of Sussex, Edinburgh and Imperial College, in close co-operation with research user organisations. Results will contribute to academic understanding, public policy making and business analysis of CCS.

Project two is led by the University of Surrey’s Dr Yacob Mulugetta and is called ‘Understanding local and community governance of energy’. It will demonstrate how grassroots organisations, local government initiatives and national-scale activities interact to create new political opportunities for active citizen engagement in both energy demand reduction and deployment of local energy generation. The project will involve the Universities of Surrey, Oxford and Aberdeen, as well as local government organisations.

The third project is ‘Spatial aspects of energy crops in the UK’ and is headed by professor Pete Smith from the University of Aberdeen. The project will explore spatial aspects of bioenergy development in the UK to 2050, looking at environmental, economic and social factors. The team will project the potential spatial distribution and yields of energy crops under current and future climate conditions. The research will involve the Universities of Aberdeen, East Anglia and Southampton, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the Scottish Agricultural College.

The final project is led by Dr Elizabeth Bomberg of the University of Edinburgh and is called ‘Grassroots action and the politics of energy governance in Scotland’. The project will analyse community groups in Scotland to assess whether they have an impact on energy use and decision-making related to energy policy. While the research will provide an in-depth and comprehensive examination of energy-related grassroots action in Scotland, its wider aim is to integrate political science perspectives into energy research – a field still largely dominated by natural scientists and engineers. The research will be carried out by the University of Edinburgh.