ADVENT (ADdressing Valuation of Energy and Nature Together)

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Environmental Sciences

Abstract

The UK Government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment. Delivering on these parallel objectives, however, involves numerous tensions. Future low-carbon energy pathways that, for example, depend on the sourcing of feedstocks through hydraulic fracking have implications for the availability of clean water and hence for the ecosystem services such resources provide to other industrial, domestic or agricultural users. Likewise, pathways that envisage more wind farms have implications for the quality of the natural landscape and the cultural ecosystem services people derive from the visual enjoyment of those landscapes.

The central objective of this project is to explore future UK low-carbon energy pathways and quantify their differing implications for stocks of natural capital (e.g. groundwater and natural habitats) and for the provision of ecosystem services (e.g. irrigation, visual amenity, recreation). In addition, the project will apply methods of economic valuation to estimate in money terms the value of the ecosystem service changes associated with different future energy pathway. Ultimately, the project seeks to provide policy makers with tools that allow them to take a whole-systems perspective on energy futures in a way that integrates energy and environmental considerations into a single framework.

The research programme will begin with workshops bringing together members of the valuing nature and energy futures research communities. The aim will be to encourage discussion between the participants and to arrive at a shared understanding of the conceptual framework that should underpin the research as well as to establish the baseline of existing knowledge.
Part of that knowledge base will be a description of the particular future energy pathways to be explored in the project. The next task for the research team will be to develop a detailed life cycle characterisation of each pathway. Drawing on previous research, the project will then identify the anticipated ecosystem service impacts of each particular element of a pathway. And, where available, collate evidence regarding the estimated value of those various impacts.

For numerous elements, however, those impacts and/or values may be unknown. Indeed, the project will seek to fill those knowledge gaps through a set of case studies. These will explore aspects of bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, visual disamenity, impacts on marine recreation biodiversity consequences and the impacts of infrastructure to reduce energy demand.
Drawing on the results, the research will then seek to integrate the available evidence so as to assess the environmental impacts of each energy pathway in its entirety. To that end, the project will build on previous work by extending two complementary modelling platforms. The first is a micro-economic model that allows for a spatially-disaggregated exploration of the impacts of each pathway. The second employs macro-economic modelling to understand how natural capital use in different pathways impacts on the broad functioning of the economy and concomitant implications for growth, jobs and trade. To provide a holistic assessment of each pathway, a further work stream will quantify the international implications for natural capital and ecosystems services of UK decisions on future energy systems.

The findings will be made available to academics and policy makers through an extensive programme of dissemination and knowledge exchange. In addition, through training a cohort of PhD studentships, the project seeks to leave a legacy of academic capacity focused on the interface between energy and the environment. Together, the new knowledge and expertise delivered by the project will provide a major contribution to ensuring that energy and natural capital policies can be developed in a coherent manner for the maximal benefit of society as a whole.

Planned Impact

In addition to the academic community, we envisage three groups of key beneficiaries from the research: (i) government departments and public policy makers; (ii) private sector companies in the energy, water and agriculture sectors; and (iii) the public and society more generally. Our communication, engagement and dissemination plans are described in the Pathways to Impact document. Here we outline the expected impacts of these combined activities.

National Decision-Makers:

A fundamental objective of this project is to quantify and value the natural capital and ecosystem services impacts of different energy pathways. Moreover, based on that knowledge, the project will develop decision-support tools that provide a whole-system assessment of different energy futures. Accordingly, the project's outputs will have direct importance to numerous decision-making agencies including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). Each of those agencies has immediate needs for tools that will allow them to assess and compare different possible energy pathways across both the energy and environment spheres. The project will also provide inputs for agencies involved in national policy making regarding natural capital, particularly the on-going development of natural capital accounts being pursued by the National Capital Committee (NCC), Office of National Statistics (ONS) and HM Treasury (HMT). The research team have long track-records of collaboration with each of these organisations ensuring the project's findings will have a pathway for direct dissemination to the relevant decision-making bodies.

Regional Decision-Makers:

In addition, the project will undertake a number of case studies whose regional focus will provide valuable input to local decision-makers. For instance, research on public attitudes to potential marine energy developments in the Bristol Channel-Severn Estuary (WP5.6) will be of interest to Local Enterprise Partnerships given the economic importance of tourism in the region. Similarly, the work on implications of changes in energy consumption in north-eastern Scotland will be of relevance to unitary authorities within the region with respect to strategic planning and decisions regarding future infrastructure investments.

Private Sector:

Outputs of the project will also be of direct relevance to a number of businesses and organisations in the private sector. The strategic planning of energy companies will be particularly enhanced by better understanding of potential environmental impacts from their operations and how natural capital considerations might constrain these in the future. Similarly, the water supply industry has an obvious interest in the implications of future energy pathways for water resources and how these could influence future investments in abstraction, treatment and distribution infrastructure. The agricultural sector also stand to benefit from project's outputs. In particular, the project will provide insights into possible future demands for bioenergy and spatial variations in the availability of water for irrigation purposes. In addition, the project will provide information directly relevant to businesses in the energy, water and food sectors with interests in developing corporate natural capital accounts.

Public and Wider Society:

The final group to be impacted by the project will be society more generally. The project's outputs will help ensure that the public's valuation of important natural assets such as green spaces used for recreation and landscapes enjoyed for their visual amenity are meaningfully represented in decisions concerning future energy pathways. These insights will also be relevant to the work of many environmental NGOs such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and county wildlife trusts.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/M019713/1 29/06/2015 30/08/2021
1924218 Studentship NE/M019713/1 30/09/2016 12/08/2021 Gemma Delafield
 
Description The overall science aim was 'develop and exemplify conceptual frameworks and modelling tools to integrate the analysis of prospective UK energy pathways with considerations relating to the value of natural capital'. Both of these have been achieved and published in a series of papers. The key finding demonstrated is that if environmental costs and benefits are not incorporated into assessment of energy pathways then the outcome of these will be sub-optimal from a societal perspective (e.g. infrastructure investments occurring in the wrong place or an inappropriate mix of technologies used.
Exploitation Route The work is being developed further through a number of additional research council projects. We are also presenting findings to government departments (e.g. Defra, BEIS, Scottish Government) and businesses (e.g. Drax).
Sectors Energy,Environment

URL https://ukerc.ac.uk/research/advent/
 
Description The project funding has now finished and over 45 papers have been published from the research. We anticipate that the final total will be over 50 papers. Contacts have been developed with a range of government, business and NGO stakeholders and presentations either have been or will be made to a number of these. We are also completing a set of six policy briefs that summarise different aspects of the project achievements and findings. Overall, the findings are particularly relevant to public and private sector organisations seeking to incorporate land use and environmental impacts into their plans to achieve Net Zero objectives.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Input to BEIS regarding the International Strategic Framework being developed by the International Working Group of the UK Energy Innovation Board
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Involvement in Local Energy East project and the Greater South East Local Energy Hub
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description ADVANCES (ADVancing Analysis of Natural Capital in LandscapE DecisionS)
Amount £508,879 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/T002115/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2019 
End 06/2021
 
Description ADVENT External Advisory Board Meeting, London, July 2017 
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 The first meeting of the ADVENT External Advisory Board (EAB) for ADVENT took place at Ergon House, London on 11th July. The membership of the EAB is currently: Tony Grayling (Chair, Environment Agency), Chris Maxwell, (Marine Management Organisation), Rebecca Clark (Natural England), Geraldine Newton-Cross (ETI), William Cracroft-Eley (Terravesta), Jonathan Scurlock (National Farmers Union), Steve Croxton (Uniper Technologies), Eleanor Stone (The Wildlife Trusts), Adrian Fox (The Crown Estate), Jim Watson (UKERC), Rosie Hails (Valuing Nature Programme), Jim Wharfe (Independent Consultant), Georgina Mace (Natural Capital Committee). Notes summarising the discussion have been written-up and circulated to EAB members and the ADVENT project team.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Contribution to HM Government Open Innovation Team's work on land use and geospatial data 
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 Andrew Lovett took part in an expert interview with staff from the HM Government Open Innovation Team on 29th July 2020 to assist in their work on land use and geospatial data. The overview of academic research compiled by the Open Innovation Team was used to provide a range of teams within HM Government with a summary of expert insights on the ethics of location data. The teams who benefited from the overview said that it had changed the way they thought about the policy area, and will feed into internal policy papers and most likely a gov.uk publication in the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Defra Environmental Land Management Modelling Expert Panel 
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 Five members of the ADVENT and ADVANCES team (Brett Day, Felix Eigenbrod, Astley Hastings, Andrew Lovett and Guy Ziv) were invited to join an Environmental Land Management Modelling Expert Panel (E.L.M-MEP) for Defra. The panel is intended to be a source of independent review and scrutiny during the implementation of the modelling strategy to inform the development of the ELM agri-environmental programme. The panel has met twice to date (16th December 2020 and 22 January 2021) with further meetings scheduled in 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Incorporating biodiversity in natural capital assessments of UK low-carbon energy pathways 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact UKERC Webinar on 11th October 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://ukerc.ac.uk/interactive/webinars/
 
Description Integrating Natural Capital into Energy Transition Assessments - Presentation to British Council/ National University of Science & Technology Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation to an online forum on Smart Energy Systems for a Sustainable Future organised by the Department of Education and Culture of British Embassy Moscow and National University of Science and Technology on 22 February 2022.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://uk-russia-alliance.ru/smartenergy/eng
 
Description Meeting with policy and environmental research teams in EDF Energy, London, 25th November 2016 
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 Andrew Lovett, Brett Day and Gemma Delafield from the ADVENT project met with members of the policy and environmental research teams in EDF Energy on 25th November. The discussion was useful in terms of identifying possible areas of future collaboration, particularly in terms of water resource issues.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Participation in Marine Management Organisation (MMO) Science Alignment Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Andrew Lovett represented the ADVENT project at the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) Science Alignment Workshop in London, 9th September 2015. This identified two particular areas in the MMO Evidence Strategy where there is clear overlap with planned ADVENT research and a follow-up meeting is now planned to discuss possible collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Phone conference with representatives of National Grid and Anglian Water 
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 A phone conference on 20th January 2020 with representatives from National Grid and Anglian Water to discuss methods of modelling spatial variations in natural capital to inform sustainability assessments. There was particular interests in how the techniques developed by the ADVENT and ADVANCES projects might be transferable to operational business requirements
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Presentation at European Geophysical Union General Assembly, Vienna, April 2016. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Andrew Lovett on 'Integrated modelling of ecosystem services and energy systems research' as part of session on Energy and Environmental System Interactions - Policy and Modelling at the European Geophysical Union General Assembly, Vienna, 20th April 2016. This particularly helped to further develop links with researchers in the EPSRC wholeSEM consortium at Cambridge and Mark Howells research group at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at NERC Radioactivity and the Environment Programme Executive Board Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Andrew Lovett on ADVENT at NERC Radioactivity and the Environment Programme Executive Board Meeting, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster, 28th January 2016. Generated feedback and some useful information about policy documents and scenarios regarding the nuclear industry in the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at NERC/NSF joint US-UK workshop on 'Improving Understanding of Potential Environmental Impacts Associated with Unconventional Hydrocarbons' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Matthew Agarwala on ADVENT at NERC/NSF joint US-UK workshop on 'Improving Understanding of Potential Environmental Impacts Associated with Unconventional Hydrocarbons', 5-6th November 2015, Washington DC, USA. Generated discussion with researchers in USA interested in similar issues.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at UKERC Annual Assembly 2016, Leeds, July 2016. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Andrew Lovett on "Linking energy system and natural capital modelling tools" at the UKERC Annual Assembly 2016, Leeds, 7th July 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at the Association for Environment Conscious Building (AECB) 2016 Conference, Norwich, July 2016. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk by Andrew Lovett on "Making decisions as if nature mattered" at the Association for Environment Conscious Building (AECB) 2016 Conference, University of East Anglia, 15th July 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation at wholeSEM Annual Conference 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lovett, A.A., Day, B., Harwood, A.R., De-Gol, A., Sunnenberg, G. and Bateman, I.J. (2015) Spatial Modelling of the Energy-Land-Water Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities. Presentation at wholeSEM Annual Conference 2015, Cambridge, 7th July 2015. Presentation led to discussion with a number of international researchers interested in similar issues and a subsequent invitation to participate in a session at the EGU General Assembly April 2016 in Session ERE1.8 - Energy and environmental system interactions - Policy and modelling.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Presentation by Andrew Lovett at UKERC Annual Assembly, Edinburgh, July 2107 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentations on the ADVENT 'Fast Track' initiative and the international implications of energy pathways at the UKERC Annual Assembly, Edinburgh, July 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation by Andrew Lovett at UKERC Annual Assembly, Sheffield, July 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Andrew Lovett and three other project team members to provide an update on activities and findings within the ADVENT project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation by Andrew Lovett at UKERC Assembly, July 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Andrew Lovett (UEA), Kathryn Logan (University of Aberdeen), Caspar Donnison (University of Southampton) and Seb Dunnett (University of Southampton) on different aspects of the ADVENT research programme and recent modelling results which generated discussion and requests for further information from audience members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description The ADVENT Programme: Review and Prospect 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Presentation at the UKERC Annual Assembly 2021 summarising the achievements and findings from the ADVENT propgramme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://ukerc.ac.uk/