UK Energy Research Centre Phase 4

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources


The UK energy system is changing rapidly. Greenhouse gas emissions fell by 43% between 1990 and 2017, and renewables now account for 30% of electricity generation. Despite this progress, achieving emissions reductions has been difficult outside the electricity sector, and progress could stall without more effective policy action. The Paris Agreement means that the UK may have to go further than current targets, to achieve a net zero energy system.

Reducing emissions is not the only important energy policy goal. Further, progress need to be made whilst minimising the costs to consumers and taxpayers; maintaining high levels of energy security; and maximising economic, environmental and social benefits.

There is a clear need for research to understand the nature of the technical, economic, political, environmental and societal dynamics affecting the energy system - including the local, national and international components of these dynamics. This proposal sets out UKERC's plans for a 4th phase of research and engagement (2019-2024) that addresses this challenge. It includes a programme of interdisciplinary research on sustainable future energy systems. This is driven by real-world energy challenges whilst exploring new questions, methods and agendas. It also explains how UKERC's central activities will be developed further, including new capabilities to support energy researchers and decision-makers.

The UKERC phase 4 research programme will focus on new challenges and opportunities for implementing the energy transition, and will be concerned with the three main questions:
- How will global, national and local developments influence the shape and pace of the UK's transition towards a low carbon energy system?
- What are the potential economic, political, social and environmental costs and benefits of energy system change, and how can they be distributed equitably?
- Which actors could take the lead in implementing the next stage of the UK's energy transition, and what are the implications for policy and governance?

To address these questions, the research programme includes seven interrelated research themes: UK energy in a global context; Local and regional energy systems; Energy, environment, and landscape; Energy infrastructure transitions; Energy for mobility; Energy systems for heat; and Industrial decarbonisation. The proposal sets out details of research within these themes, plans for associated PhD studentships and details of the flexible research fund that will be used to commission additional research projects, scoping studies and to support integration. A first integration project on energy and the economy will be undertaken at the start of UKERC phase 4.

The research themes are complemented by four national capabilities that form part of the research programme: an expanded Technology and Policy Assessment (TPA) capability; a new Energy Modelling Hub; the UKERC Energy Data Centre; and a new Public Engagement Observatory. Research within TPA and the Observatory will align and integrate with the main research themes. These four capabilities will also enhance UKERC's ability to provide evidence, data and expertise for academic, policy, industry and other stakeholder communities.

The UKERC headquarters (HQ) team will support the management and co-ordination of the research programme; and will also undertake a range of other functions to support the broader UK energy research community and its key stakeholders. These functions include promoting networking and engagement between stakeholders in academia, policy, industry and third sector (including through a networking fund), supporting career development and capacity building, and enhancing international collaboration (including through the UK's participation in the European Energy Research Alliance).

Planned Impact

Building on our strong track record of delivering impact during previous phases, UKERC will continue to advance internationally leading interdisciplinary research on energy systems, maximise UK capacity, and engage broadly with our key stakeholders and the energy research community. The impact objectives for UKERC phase 4 are to:

1. Provide evidence to help the UK and devolved governments develop and implement the low carbon pathways necessary to meet their carbon targets, in line with the Paris Agreement.
2. Provide opportunities to the UK energy research community, building UK capacity, developing new agendas and delivering outputs of international importance.
3. Provide academia, policy-makers, industry, third sector organisations, and practitioners with timely research that can be easily and effectively used to inform decision-making.

UKERC's approach to impact will also focus on dynamic interactions between actors and their wider networks, including:
- Policy-makers and parliamentarians, through tailored engagement activities that provide insight into options, consequences, costs, and potential limitations of future energy policies.
- National and international researchers and organisations with interests in energy research, including academia, UKRI funded Centres and other Government funded research institutes.
- Industry through UKERC research reports, facilitating participation in future research needs workshops with the research community, and through access to a network of acknowledged experts, including those outside UKERC's research programme.
- Civil society and publics with interest in energy issues and climate change, through the dissemination of independent research on contemporary energy issues, issuing press releases to inform media debates.

A programme of activities will be implemented to increase the impact of UKERC's research and engagement activities with these communities. UKERC's communications and international strategies will be revised early in phase 4. All strategies will contain monitoring and evaluation (M&E) frameworks, which will enable continuous impact assessment and evaluation, and for lessons to be learnt and fed back into UKERC's operations.



Jim Watson (Principal Investigator)
Janette Webb (Co-Investigator)
Nicola Beaumont (Co-Investigator)
Amii Rebecca Harwood (Co-Investigator)
John Barrett (Co-Investigator)
Robert Bailey (Co-Investigator)
Paolo Agnolucci (Co-Investigator)
Simon Shepherd (Co-Investigator)
Brett Howard Day (Co-Investigator)
Keith Robert Bell (Co-Investigator) orcid
Antony Patrick Froggatt (Co-Investigator)
Stephen Allen (Co-Investigator) orcid
Nicholas Pidgeon (Co-Investigator)
Christina Claudia Demski (Co-Investigator)
Marco Sakai (Co-Investigator) orcid
Paul Ekins (Co-Investigator)
Felix Eigenbrod (Co-Investigator)
Tom Edward Hargreaves (Co-Investigator)
Michael Joseph Bradshaw (Co-Investigator)
Helen Williams Pallett (Co-Investigator) orcid
Zia Wadud (Co-Investigator)
Paul Edward Dodds (Co-Investigator)
Meysam Qadrdan (Co-Investigator)
Andrew Lovett (Co-Investigator) orcid
Peter Taylor (Co-Investigator)
Jason David Chilvers (Co-Investigator)
Gavin Bridge (Co-Investigator)
Simin Davoudi (Co-Investigator)
Jianzhong Wu (Co-Investigator)
Astley Francis Hastings (Co-Investigator)
John Broderick (Co-Investigator)
Gail Taylor (Co-Investigator) orcid
Caroline Kuzemko (Co-Investigator) orcid
Mark Winskel (Co-Investigator)
Robert Gross (Co-Investigator)
Alona Armstrong (Co-Investigator)
Caroline Anne Mullen (Co-Investigator)
Anna Orlowska (Co-Investigator) orcid
Gregory Richard Marsden (Co-Investigator) orcid
Amanda R Lea-Langton (Co-Investigator)
Christian Brand (Co-Investigator)
Neil Strachan (Co-Investigator)
Jim A Halliday (Co-Investigator) orcid
Bridget Woodman (Co-Investigator)
Jillian Leigh Anable (Co-Investigator) orcid
Catherine Anne Hampton (Researcher)
Sarah Frances James (Researcher) orcid
Richard James Lowes (Researcher)
Graeme Hawker (Researcher)
Tara Louise Hooper (Researcher)
Matthew Winning (Researcher) orcid
Sarah Becker (Researcher)
Emily Margaret Cox (Researcher)
Steve Pye (Researcher) orcid
Philip Heptonstall (Researcher)
Lesley Wright (Researcher)
Robert Alan Holland (Researcher) orcid
Vincenzo De Lipsis (Researcher) orcid
Oliver Broad (Researcher Co-Investigator) orcid
Gavin Killip (Researcher Co-Investigator)


10 25 50