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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K022288/1
Title: Reducing heat demand in UK cities: Using complexity science to enable effective decision-making
Principal Investigator: Bale, Dr CSE
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Arup Group Ltd CO2Sense CIC Leeds City Council
Department: Chemical and Process Engineering
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 16 September 2013 Ends: 15 September 2016 Value (£): 283,789
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complexity Science Energy Efficiency
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Feb 2013 Eng Fellowships Interview Meeting - Feb 2013 Announced
24 Jan 2013 Engineering Prioritisation Meeting - 24/25 January 2013 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Almost half (46%) of the final energy consumed in the UK is used to provide heat; this demand is currently largely met through burning fossil fuels. As a result, over a third of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions are directly attributable to heat-related activities. This brings the need to balance key national objectives, including reducing carbon emissions and providing a secure and affordable supply of heat to UK homes and businesses (the "energy trilemma"). Addressing these challenges will require new ways of reducing end-use heat demand and promoting energy efficiency, and the integration of technologies into existing city infrastructure that decarbonise heating and cooling or provide a means of storing heat. The reduction of heat demand is therefore closely linked both to alternative technologies and to business and governance models. As a result, the interactions between social and technical elements of the system need to be more thoroughly understood. Heat demand reduction that works with rather than against people and organisations, enabling heat technologies to be designed and deployed effectively and with maximum impact, is vital if the UK is to meet the 2050 target of an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions whilst providing affordable warmth to those already in fuel poverty or likely to become so as energy prices rise.

This fellowship project aims to develop tools that will enable local authorities and other key city stakeholders to make effective decisions for the reduction of heat demand. The approach to achieving a significant reduction in heat demand needs to be twofold: (1) efficient delivery of heat services (as an alternative to the point-of-use burning of gas in boilers) through district heat networks linked to low-carbon technologies such as combined heat and power (CHP) or energy from waste, and (2) an increased uptake of energy-efficient and low-carbon heating technologies such as insulation, heat pumps and solar thermal in the domestic sector. Neither of these has the potential to deliver a low-carbon future in isolation; instead, both must work in concert. The proposed research will consider how (1) and (2) interact.

The intention is that these tools will be used to analyse potential end-use heat demand reduction strategies and specific interventions that could be implemented by the public and/or private sector in the city energy system. Potential interventions can encompass different approaches by local and central government and can range from the primarily technological, e.g. use of low-carbon heat technologies in council-owned estates, to the primarily policy-based, e.g. supplementary planning guidance on connections to heat networks.

Novel approaches to modelling complex systems will be used that will deliver a better understanding of how the different aspects of the city-level heat system are linked. The whole system encompasses technologies, institutional and governance arrangements, the environment, the behaviours of individuals, and business models. Each aspect will be influenced by the others and so, in order to identify successful actions a local authority may take, the emergent behaviour of the whole system must be explored.

The research will be conducted at the Centre for Integrated Energy Research at the University of Leeds, which provides an interdisciplinary environment. As a result the research will include input from academics working in engineering, energy policy and modelling. In-depth engagement will also be undertaken with practitioners from project partners in local government and industry and stakeholders across the heat sector.

Key Findings
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk