UKERC Whole Systems Networking Fund

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Research Office

Abstract

Despite the increasing attention paid to interdisciplinarity and whole systems research within the RCUK energy research portfolio, the Scientific Advisory Committee has identified the need for further action to ensure that a whole systems approach is more clearly reflected in the portfolio as a whole. There is a need for those conducting detailed, specific research on a particular technology or within a particular discipline to take into account more fully how their research relates to the whole energy system. Equally, whole systems energy research could make better use of insights from more detailed research. Within this, there is a desire to provide greater opportunities for early career researchers to get involved, and to ensure that any activities to address this problem encourage diversity.

This proposal for a Whole Systems Networking Fund has been developed to meet this need following a request to UKERC from the Research Councils. It has benefitted from consultation with senior energy academics funded by the RCUK energy programme.

The Fund's activities will be delivered in three main phases over two years:
1. An engagement phase. This will involve promoting the objectives of the networking fund to the research community, consulting them about potential themes, and laying the foundations for calls for proposals. This phase will also involve some activities led by the UKERC HQ team including a review of best practice on integration of specific and energy systems research; mentoring and training on research communication; and activities to improve the articulation between communities working on decision making tools and those working in more specific and specialist energy fields.
2. A delivery phase that will involve a series of calls for small and large networking grant proposals. A steering group composed of leading researchers from across the energy research community will advise on the calls and on the selection of projects for funding. Clear criteria for funding will be developed and applied, with an emphasis on promoting inclusion, interdisciplinarity, innovation and impact. Once commissioned, these projects will be actively managed by UKERC's expended HQ team to ensure that they meet their objectives and maximise their impacts.
3. An analysis phase which will involve work to learn lessons from projects, to maximise the impact of the Fund as a whole, including through a final event for academic, policy, industry and other stakeholders.

To deliver the Fund, the UKERC HQ team will be expanded with an additional two people to engage and advise the energy research community, and to ensure effective administration, management and communication of project activities. The governance of the Fund will be via a new Fund Committee comprising leading energy academics. A number of candidates have already agreed to serve on this committee.

Planned Impact

As set out in the Pathways to Impact statement, the Whole Systems Networking Fund's objectives are designed to maximise the impact of its activities.

Objective 1: To improve the connections and collaborations between the research communities engaged in whole systems energy research and those engaged in more specific research. This will be achieved by building on the UKERC HQ team's existing expertise and capacity, enhanced by the addition of two new team members. The academic community will benefit from their experience of facilitating engagement and dialogue with existing centres and networks, often in partnership with other organisations. Mechanisms to engage this community with the Fund include an extensive contacts database, UKERC's weekly network newsletter, social media and specific networking events to promote and discuss the Fund. These will be followed up by the capacity to actively work with funded networking projects to ensure they achieve their objectives, and dissemination of results.

Objective 2: To provide mechanisms for collaboration that encourage diversity, with a particular emphasis on providing opportunities for early career researchers. Meeting this objective will also build on UKERC's existing practice of promoting diversity, including a particular emphasis within Fund activities on supporting early career researchers.

Objective 3: To identify and learn lessons from best practice within the UK and internationally. By meeting this objective, the Fund will reach a wider group of energy researchers in the UK and internationally. This will be achieved through the publication and dissemination of outputs from Fund activities, and using UKERC's role in international networks such as the European Energy Research Alliance.

Objective 4: To work with policy, business and civil society to identify opportunities for wider engagement and impact. This objective is designed to ensure that the Fund has wider impacts outside the academic community. It will also build on UKERC's strong links with government, industry and third sector stakeholders which will complement existing links that many of those who are funded will have already. The mechanisms for achieving impacts on within these stakeholder communities include UKERC's well established communications channels, targeted events and support for briefings and other publications.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Outcomes from this award are reported regularly to EPSRC, ESRC and NERC via UKERC's six-monthly reports to our Funders Group.
Exploitation Route This varies across the 18 projects that are funded through this award. Our reporting to the UKERC Funders Group will continue to provide details of findings and their potential use. An evaluation of the impact of the Whole Systems Networking Fund as a whole is planned during its final six months (by October 2019).
Sectors Energy,Environment,Transport

URL http://www.ukerc.ac.uk
 
Description We regularly report on the impacts of the whole systems networking fund via UKERC's six-monthly reports to our Funders Group (comprising representatives and independent nominees from EPSRC, ESRC and NERC). Our interventions with stakeholders and the research community in the early stages of project inception has lead to bridges being built between previously poorly connected organisations. Examples include: engagement between the automotive and whole systems communities through the APC and ESC; linking NGOs to a broader evidence base and working with the legal community to better engage with whole systems researchers. These have led to follow on discussions and will lead to more extensive impacts and activities in the future.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Energy,Environment,Transport
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description 10:10 Climate Action 
Organisation 10:10
PI Contribution 10:10 Climate Action is delivering one of UKERC's WSNF-funded projects: The Heat Network. UKERC HQ is supporting the delivery of this project.
Collaborator Contribution The Heat Network, led by charity 10:10 Climate Action working in collaboration with UKERC researchers, looks to support the UK's heat decarbonisation efforts through the development of a successful, inclusive and enduring network of people and organisations helping to decarbonise heat. Decarbonising heat is seen as one of the UK's most difficult energy challenges, with heat making up around 50% of the UK's energy consumption and around a third of greenhouse gas emissions. With a focus on electricity decarbonisation and more recently transport, heat remains the 'Cinderella' of UK energy policy and in fact emissions from heating have increased for the past two years. This networking project aims to get Cinderalla to the ball. 10:10 Climate Action is a charity with deep experience of engaging people with climate issues and they will be leveraging their expertise to up the engagement around heat. The project will use a combination of survey work, workshops and publications to for the first time pull together those researching and innovating around sustainable heating.
Impact None yet.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) 
Organisation Energy Systems Catapult Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution ESC is partnering with APC to deliver one of UKERC's WSNF-funded projects: 'Decarbonisation of the UK Road Cargo Sector'. UKERC HQ is supporting the development and delivery of this project.
Collaborator Contribution the aim of the project is to define a cost-effective pathway to decarbonise road freight across the UK's transport and energy systems (an outline of the suggested work packages can be seen in the table below). This aim will be achieved collaboratively through a series of workshops that bring new sets of stakeholders together to generate ideas, with discussions informed by insights by the ES Catapult's ESME model, and a literature survey. From these varied sources - model, analysis, and discussions - we will explore decarbonisation pathways and the appetite among our stakeholders to undertake actions to promote them. Topics considered will include: R&D, technology challenges, legislation, investment (volume, and direction), and initiatives from firms, government, and other sectors - the aim being to bottom-out the major elements in a collaborative way.
Impact None yet.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Environmental Defense Fund Europe 
Organisation Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Environmental Defense Fund Europe is delivering a WSNF-funded project: Co-producing the Electric Vehicles Bill. UKERC HQ is supporting the delivery of this project.
Collaborator Contribution This project, coordinated by Environmental Defense Fund Europe (EDF), aims to broaden and deepen participation of researchers, NGOs, industry, the civil service and other interested parties in the political decision making process on new electric charging infrastructure in the UK. EDF will convene a series of diverse cross-stakeholder workshops to co-produce recommendations for amendments to the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which aims to improve the network of charging points for electric vehicles in the UK.
Impact None yet.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Green Alliance 
Organisation Green Alliance
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Green Alliance is running one of UKERC's WSNF-funded projects: Energy Pioneers. UKERC HQ is supporting the delivery of this project.
Collaborator Contribution This project, run by Green Alliance in collaboration with Green Alliance's Associate Rebecca Willis, aims to encourage collaboration between early-career women in the energy sector from the policy, industry and academic communities. They will support these women in identifying opportunities for policy influencing based on areas of common interest and expertise around energy policy issues that participants will have identified as challenges for the wider energy community.
Impact None yet.
Start Year 2017
 
Description CDT PV Network advisory board meeting and CDT showcase - K-S Longuere 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Attending the industrial advisory board meeting of the CDT PV network and presenting on the Solar Commission (WSNF project); networking with post graduate students and researchers attending and presenting at the CDT showcase. Kajsa-Stina Longuere participated on behalf of UKERC HQ.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description CIGRE UK's workshop on energy digitalisation and resilience - K-S. Longuere 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact CIGRE UK's event was a good opportunity for UKERC to build a relationship with CIGRE and to network with industry. Kajsa-Stina Longuere attended on behalf of UKERC HQ.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Community energy resilience and electricity systems in South Asia (WSNF-project), Kathmandu, Nepal 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Community energy resilience and electricity systems in South Asia, meeting, Kathmandu, Nepal, 11 Feb 2019. This event was delivered by the project team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Energy-PIECES masterclass (WSNF project) - D. Stoker and A. Sharick 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Masterclass for secodees in preparation for their secondments within energy policy as part of the WSNF-funded project Energy PIECES.David Stoker and Amber Sharick attended on behalf of UKERC HQ.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/programmes/networking-fund/energy-pieces.html
 
Description First workshop on low carbon technologies (WSNF project) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Kick off meeting for Women Buying Green, a WSNF-funded project. It was led and delivered by the project team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/programmes/networking-fund/women-buying-green.html
 
Description Increasing visibility of underrepresented groups in energy research (IVUGER) event - WSNF project - D. Stoker 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact First meeting of IVUGER network, which brings together female early career researchers within heat, and offers a mentorship scheme with input from senior female scientists. David Stoker attended for UKERC HQ.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/programmes/networking-fund/increasing-visibility-of-underrepresented-groups-i...
 
Description Kick off meeting for 'Solar Commission' (WSNF project) - W. Burns 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Kick off meeting in Exeter for Solar commission - a WSNF funded project. William Burns attended on behalf of UKERC HQ.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/programmes/networking-fund/solar-commission.html
 
Description Partner meeting for 'On road towards zero emissions in the Northern Ireland heat sector' (WSNF project) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop was the first in a series of workshop and concenred residential heat decarbonisation. 40 attendees representing different stakeholders groups attended, and there were a number of discussions and engagement on a number of energy topics in line with the project proposal. Arranged and delivered by project team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/programmes/networking-fund/barriers-opportunities-zero-emission-ni-heat-secto...
 
Description Roundtable with POWERful Women industry group and BEIS on gender balance. J. Watson, W. Burns, J. Bays. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A roundtable arranged by POWERful Women and UKERC that discussed gender balance in energy research. The event included participants from several gender-oriented WSNF-funded projects. Actions included an agreement to write to government ministers to highlight gender inequality in energy research, and to ask for their support in addressing this issue. William Burns, Jim Watson, and Jessica Bays attended this event for UKERC HQ. Amber Sharick helped arranging it.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Solar Commission Meeting (WSNF-project) - W. Burns and D. Stoker 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Solar Commission, meeting 6 Mar 2019, Institute of Physics, London. Range of academic, policy, and private sector stakeholders (e.g., National Grid, Siemens, NSG, Foresight Group LLP) held discussion to scope out innovation challenges in renewable energy systems incorporating solar generation. The meeting was delivered by the project team. David Stoker and William Burns attended on behalf of UKERC HQ.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Sustainable futures for off-grid solar and batteries (WSNF project) - K-S. Longuere 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This workshop was part of the WSNF-funded Solar + Solar Waste Pathways project. It brought together academics and stakeholders from a very diverse range of disciplines, and project partners from Kenya and India to discuss sustainable futures for off-grid solar and batteries. Kajsa-Stina Longuere represented UKERC HQ and presented on the WSNF.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2019
 
Description Watson, J - Green Alliance / UKERC Energy Pioneers debate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Watson, J (2018). Chair of Green Alliance / UKERC Energy Pioneers debate: How should we share the benefits of the energy transition? Imperial College London, 6th December.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018