Innovation in renewable energy technology, identification of barriers to growth and understanding how those barriers might be overcome is central to our research and teaching.
We actively pursue policy research across many areas, taking advantage of our links with the University of Exeter's Energy Policy Group as well as our position within the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences to develop interdisciplinary work.
We have supported departmental research in wave energy with policy work in wave energy, with a particular focus on the innovation of new, more economically viable technology and the steps that will be necessary for the UK, and particularly the South West region to develop industrial capacity in marine renewable energy. To this end we have partnered with other institutions in the South West and beyond, including Cornwall Council, Cornwall Development Council, A&P Falmouth and Cornwall Marine Network.
Our policy research is diverse in nature and we are keen to leverage our focus on policy to partner with other institutions and companies with expert knowledge in different fields in order to produce mutually rewarding and socially relevant research.
SHIFFT is an INTERREG 2 Seas project that is stimulating the adoption of low-carbon heating in existing residential and community buildings. There is enormous potential to reduce CO2 emissions through the adoption of low carbon heating, but a lack of awareness and knowledge on the technical options available and the benefits of sustainable heating; as well as the upfront investment costs of measures, can mean progress is slow.
SHIFFT is helping to address this by installing measures in a number of pilot areas to demonstrate sustainable heating; working with citizens to raise awareness, remove barriers, develop incentives and co-create solutions for a transition to sustainable heating; developing city-based strategies in the 4 seas countries; and developing best practice to share with and encourage cities across Europe to develop their own low carbon heat strategy.
The Intelligent Community Energy project (ICE) aims to design and implement innovative smart energy solutions for isolated territories in the France Channel England area.
Isolated communities often face unique energy issues related to efficiency, reliability and sustainability. This is commonly due to dependency on external and fossil fuel energy supply, low electricity grid capacity and limited or no connection to wider grids. As a result isolated communities have higher than average carbon emissions and are more vulnerable to fluctuating fuel prices.
The ICE project will overcome these challenges by producing an innovative low-carbon energy system (Smart Grid) which will cover the entire energy cycle from production to consumption. The project will focus on improving and developing smart solutions for energy production, storage and consumption for remote communities.
ICE is an interdisciplinary project which draws on the department’s expertise in policy, resource assessment, reliability engineering, electrical engineering an lifecycle analysis.
This is a new project supported by the UKRI GCRF funding stream ‘Beyond Technology’ and will consider the many elements impacting democratisation and inclusivity around energy choices in communities. Its research focus will be in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Nigeria.
The primary research questions of the work are as follows: how can the strategic political understanding of many of these countries which is dominated by grid outreach be changed to incorporate the substantial decentralized, off-grid provision that will be necessary to achieve both effective outreach and low carbon transition? If the habit of centralized monopoly can be broken in African countries with small electricity markets by the introduction of RETs, will this lead necessarily to more decentralised systems or, on the contrary, will centralised systems be perpetuated with the same limited number of players? And in the case that decentralised RETs are being implemented will this lead to a democratisation of the energy systems or to the reinforcement of non-democratic local authorities?
Atta Ajayebi’s research focuses on environmental evaluation of renewable energies, particularly techno-economic and social impacts of large-scale production of bioenergy. The methodology generally involves developing a spatially and temporally explicit Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) model.
Sam Collier is primarily based in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol. His research seeks to determine the role of local energy actors in the spatial diffusion of solar photovoltaics, and their contribution to overcoming the energy trilemma of energy security, energy affordability (and equity) and environmental sustainability. Spatial analysis will identify factors associated with the uptake of small-scale solar at various geographical scales, reflecting energy governance as multi-scalar. This spatial work will inform a subsequent case study approach, which will assess local energy’s current role in the energy system and how this might evolve in the future.