Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Energy and decarbonisation theme

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) energy and decarbonisation theme aims to position the UK to meet its energy and environmental targets and policy goals through world-class research and training.

The goal is to secure a low-carbon future through the creation of reliable, economically viable energy systems while protecting the natural environment.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

The energy and decarbonisation theme aims to position the UK to meet its energy and environmental targets and policy goals through investing in world-class research. It leads the UKRI energy programme on behalf of all research councils, bringing strategy to UK energy research in support of government targets.

The overarching goal of the energy and decarbonisation theme is to invest in research and innovation to secure a low-carbon future, through the creation of reliable, economically viable energy systems while protecting the natural environment, resources and quality of life.

Our aims are to realise the benefits from past research and to focus our resources and build our portfolio in areas with the potential to meet the UK’s 2050 climate change and net zero targets.

The energy and decarbonisation theme promotes multidisciplinary partnerships between researchers, industry, funders and government departments, and has a current portfolio in excess of £500 million.

Research areas

Each research area covered by the energy and decarbonisation theme is listed below:

Our approach

EPSRC has been actively managing its portfolio since 2004 to enhance the UK’s international standing in energy and decarbonisation research.

Working with the UKRI energy programme Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) we have updated the energy programme’s priorities, which are followed by the EPSRC energy and decarbonisation theme priorities.

Our inputs included the UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy, the work of the Net Zero Innovation Board and wider feedback on strengths and future priorities following community engagement undertaken by EPSRC’s energy and decarbonisation team.

Key engagement activities

Using the UKRI energy programme priorities to commence discussions, the EPSRC energy and decarbonisation theme engaged with a variety of stakeholders through a series of activities including:

  • formal, structured activities: for example, workshops, regular meetings of the Energy programme SAC and the cross-research council programme coordination group
  • less formal discussions with: academic and industrial stakeholders, UKRI partners, and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

We meet regularly with the SAC to review areas directly associated with energy and decarbonisation research, as well as those from across EPSRC’s portfolio that may potentially have some bearing on energy and decarbonisation research.

We also routinely engage with a number of key stakeholders in energy and decarbonisation across the research and innovation landscape, including policymakers, academia and businesses.

We drew heavily on these relationships to ensure the national research priorities for energy and decarbonisation in the UK are well supported.

Why we're doing it

Research is the key to achieving an affordable low carbon energy system while conserving our natural resources, the environment and our quality of life.

To help combat climate change the UK has a target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, an enormous task requiring changes to every sector of energy generation, supply, use and regulation, and the decarbonisation of sectors across the UK. These reductions need to be delivered while creating a secure energy system for the UK:

  • providing affordable energy
  • enabling continued economic growth
  • limiting impact on scarce natural resources and the environment

Challenges

The key short-term challenge is to rapidly accelerate the deployment of green energy technologies that decarbonise our energy supply and increase energy efficiency in buildings, industry and transport sectors. There is also an opportunity to develop existing networks and infrastructure to support the changing energy and decarbonisation landscape, such as through carbon capture and storage and large-scale deployment of renewables.

Research for our future

It is only through fundamental research focused on addressing these challenges that truly transformative changes to our energy future beyond 2050 can occur. The energy and decarbonisation theme, working with UKRI partners, is uniquely positioned to provide policymakers with guidance about the development of potential energy scenarios and their impact on citizens, the economy and the environment. This demands understanding of behaviour change, environmental systems analysis and technological innovation.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Events

You can apply for funding to support an EPSRC research proposal in the area of energy and decarbonisation at any time under any open EPSRC scheme, including:

  • standard mode
  • programme grants
  • fellowships

EPSRC working with overseas scientists

EPSRC standard research grant

EPSRC new investigator award

EPSRC open fellowship

EPSRC postdoctoral fellowship

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with EPSRC portfolio and data relationships.

Find out more about research theme connections and funding for energy and decarbonisation.

Find previously funded projects in the energy and decarbonisation theme on Grants on the Web.

Read our corporate reports about:

Who to contact

Ask a question about the Energy and Decarbonisation theme

EPSRC Energy and Decarbonisation team

Email: energyanddecarbonisation@epsrc.ukri.org

Heads of Theme, EPSRC

Jim Fleming, Joint Head of Energy and Decarbonisation
  • renewables and power
  • talent and skills

Email: jim.fleming@epsrc.ukri.org

Ruqaiyah Patel, Joint Head of Energy and Decarbonisation
  • systems, heat and industry
  • international

Email: ruqaiyah.patel@epsrc.ukri.org

Jane Sykes, Joint Head of Energy and Decarbonisation
  • transport, demand and digital
  • Strategic advice

Email: jane.sykes@epsrc.ukri.org

Senior Portfolio Managers, EPSRC

Gerard Davies
  • decarbonising agriculture
  • supergen programme
  • portfolios: bioenergy

Email: gerard.davies@epsrc.ukri.org

James Tarver
  • decarbonising electricity generation
  • National Nuclear User Facilities (NNUF)
  • infrastructure (Incl. strategic equipment)
  • portfolios: nuclear fusion

Email: james.tarver@epsrc.ukri.org

Neil Bateman
  • decarbonising land transport
  • UKRI Challenge Fund: Faraday battery challenge
  • clean maritime
  • portfolios: energy storage

Email: neil.bateman@epsrc.ukri.org

Grace Belshaw
  • decarbonising aviation
  • energy demand
  • digital twins for transport

Email: grace.belshaw@epsrc.ukri.org

Helen Hunt
  • decarbonising heating and cooling
  • systems for net zero
  • portfolios: whole energy systems

Email: helen.hunt@epsrc.ukri.org

Katie Hart
  • decarbonising industry
  • negative emissions technologies
  • portfolios: hydrogen and alternative energy vectors, fuel cells, carbon capture and storage

Email: Katie.hart@epsrc.ukri.org

Portfolio Managers, EPSRC

Amanda Howes, Portfolio Manager
  • centres for doctoral training
  • Strategic Advisory Team (SAT) co-convenor
  • portfolios: end use energy demand (EUED)

Email: amanda.howes@epsrc.ukri.org

Amy Spalding, Portfolio Manager
  • fellowships
  • offshore renewable energy
  • portfolios: marine, wave and tidal, wind power

Email: amy.spalding@epsrc.ukri.org

Adam Suttle, Portfolio Manager
  • remit enquiries
  • portfolios: solar energy, energy networks

Email: adam.suttle@epsrc.ukri.org

Ethan Tull, Portfolio Manager
  • new investigator awards
  • Strategic Advisory Team (SAT) co-convenor
  • portfolios: nuclear fission

Email: ethan.tull@epsrc.ukri.org

Delivery Support Team, EPSRC

Kym Wheeler, Delivery Support Manager

Email: kym.wheeler@epsrc.ukri.org

Lisa Woolford, Delivery Support Manager

Email: lisa.woolford@epsrc.ukri.org

Becca McInerney, Delivery Support Manager

Email: becca.mcinerney@epsrc.ukri.org

General enquiries, EPSRC

Email: energyanddecarbonisation@epsrc.ukri.org

Governance, management and panels

Last updated: 15 August 2023

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