Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: End use energy demand (energy efficiency)

Research into energy demand and its reduction through technical and socio-economic measures. It includes research in the context of the built environment, transport, heat, industrial processes and products.

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

The scope and what we're doing

This research area focuses on energy demand and its reduction through technical measures (for example energy efficiency) and socio-economic measures.

It includes research in the context of the built environment, transport, heat, and industrial processes and products.

The research is interdisciplinary, covering socio-technical and techno-economic approaches, for example:

  • energy-efficient technologies
  • materials
  • design
  • deployment
  • markets
  • policy
  • regulation
  • organisational aspects
  • individual behaviour.

The Committee on Climate Change’s fifth carbon budget has recognised reducing energy demand as the most effective intervention to meet 2050 greenhouse gas emission targets, while other approaches focus on supply.

Read about the Committee on Climate Change’s fifth carbon budget on their website.

This research area focuses on research that includes a technical and socio-economic understanding of demand for energy services, rather than solely on technology or solely on socio-economic aspects.

Critical mass programme

The critical mass programme within this research area is the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS). CREDS has been formed from the previous six End-Use Energy Demand (EUED) centres and aims to enable stakeholders in government and industry to understand energy demand and how it might change in the future.

We will establish a sustainable critical mass activity.

Energy demand

The fields of energy demand in transport and in non-domestic buildings should become more integrated into critical mass activities.

Research on heat

Research on heat is an important cross-cutting theme and the integrated approach to it should continue.

Energy supply

A key priority is to form a stronger link with research on energy supply, including mapping the co-evolution of EUED with supply. Activity should include research into the relationship between individual decisions and absolute energy demand.

Digital and information technologies

The link to developments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) research area and digital technologies is increasingly important. This research area’s portfolio should include research on data, ICT and new business models that turn demand-related opportunities into new products or services.

Making an impact

Societal and economic impact derives from reducing the energy needed for sustainable lifestyles and breaking the link between economic growth and energy demand. The primary route for impact in this area’s portfolio is by influencing both government and corporate industrial policy, especially within energy-intensive industries. Success will require practical evidence and a co-ordinated approach to engaging government and policymakers.

Building a community of researchers

To build a sustainable community of researchers, we will build studentship funding and support for leaders in the field of energy demand research.

One aim for the UK end-use energy demand research community is to establish itself as world leading and achieve this through the internationalisation of the socio-technical and economic approach to this topic.

This research area is also of potential relevance to the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office’s Official Development Assistance funding streams.

Why we're doing it

Interdisciplinary research

The interdisciplinary nature of this research is a strength of the UK community and socio-technical research (such as on behavioural issues and business models) is recognised as a crucial aspect.

It is our ambition for UK research activities to establish themselves as world leading and the multidisciplinary approach taken by the EPSRC programme is regarded as a strength.

The UK End Use Energy Demand (EUED) community is now engaged in international activities, including working with the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Since demand reduction can be a low-intervention, low-cost method of cutting carbon emissions, a key challenge is to ensure that researchers work with policymakers so that policy measures arising from their research are appropriate and successful.

Crossover with other research areas

Within the overall EPSRC portfolio, this research area is underpinned by the Infrastructure and Urban Systems research area. It also draws on research areas in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) theme as intelligent technologies can contribute to solving some energy demand problems.

There is very strong overlap with resource efficiency research and the Manufacturing the Future theme, especially with research that considers the embodied energy of other resources and materials.

There is a close link to research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). ESRC and EPSRC jointly fund the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions.

Reducing energy demand in the industrial sector

Stakeholders have identified significant opportunities to reduce energy demand in the industrial sector and in non-domestic buildings, as well as through innovation in heating technologies and infrastructure. There is considerable potential net economic value from energy savings, plus opportunities for growth in green product innovation.

Research area growth

During the last Delivery Plan, this research area grew within the EPSRC portfolio, increasing by a factor of three between 2011 and 2020. In 2018, the six EUED centres were combined into the interdisciplinary Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions. The 2021 portfolio can be broken down into transport (22%), built environment (28%), industrial or processes (23%) and cross-cutting or general (27%).

There are a very small number of early career fellows in this area and one centre for doctoral training, covering energy demand in the built environment. Given the importance of this area to meeting 2050 greenhouse gas emission targets, this academic capacity should be maintained.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for end use energy demand (energy efficiency).

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Who to contact

Nicola McDougal, Portfolio Manager

Email: nicola.mcdougal@epsrc.ukri.org

Telephone: 07562 306906

Last updated: 17 October 2022

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