Deployment pathways, technological options, and potential impacts of increasing demand for cooling in UK dwellings

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


Evidence from multiple countries shows that demand for cooling rises rapidly and non-linearly as summer temperatures rise. Much existing UK housing lacks both passive and active measures to limit summertime temperatures, having evolved in a climate that rarely reached temperatures that required either. But changing climate, coupled with poor design of much modern housing, means that we can expect to see significant increases in demand for and deployment of cooling in coming decades.
However, natural variability in summertime temperatures, coupled with the sharp onset and rapid rise of demand for cooling as a function of temperature, means that the trajectory of future deployment of cooling in new and existing housing is unlikely to be smooth. There is a significant probability that a future heat wave, as or more severe than that of 2003, would trigger a step change in demand for cooling, and lead to ad hoc deployment of cooling systems with little regard for efficiency, local environmental impacts (e.g. noise), impact on electricity distribution systems, potential role of passive measures, and possible synergies within the wider energy system. Adverse impacts are likely to fall disproportionately on less well-off demographics, and to be most apparent in certain regions, particularly London and the South-East, and in particular housing types - e.g. high-rise housing. It is not possible to rule out the possibility of a near-term climate event that would overwhelm the capacity of the supply chain, the regulatory system, and building owners including local authorities and housing associations to respond coherently.
The research area is the likely size and timescale of new active cooling demand in homes and the possible policy responses to it.
The research area described above is broad, spanning many disciplines (e.g. engineering, social science, geography, climatology). The approach could be technical or socio-technical. We invite applicants to choose one aspect of the research area that they would like to research, along with a suitable research approach. For example:
- An energy system architecture approach to research technology options for deploying cooling in different housing archetypes, and on the potential interactions of such options with the rest of the energy system.
- A socio-technical case study approach to research people's experiences of living in overheated homes and how this could lead to installation of cooling technologies.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S021671/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2573415 Studentship EP/S021671/1 26/09/2021 29/09/2025 Sapna Halai