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Centre for Integrated Energy Research

Mini News Updates

July 2012

Researchers at the University of Leeds have found that while UK local authorities are willing to think strategically about energy sustainability, their limited resources make it difficult to act. A study published in the journal Energy Policy, shows that while local authorities may have a vision to make cities sustainable in terms of energy use, it is difficult to implement a strategy to make this happen during this challenging time for local government. The researchers used the City of Leeds as a case study to represent typical local city government in the UK. They conducted in-depth interviews with senior Leeds City Council managers and other stakeholders involved in energy-related projects across Leeds to find out if there was a will – and a way – to think strategically about energy use, from street lighting to the fuel consumption of waste collection vehicles. For further information on this project please contact: Paula Gould, University of Leeds Communications & Press Office, Telephone: 0113 343 8059/4031.

Dr Catherine Bale, a research fellow within the Centre for Integrated Energy Research, led the steering committee that organised the recent workshop on energy and complexity (in collaboration with the UK Energy Research Centre and the Meeting Place). Complexity Science is currently recognised by EPSRC (Energy Challenges for Complexity Science call in 2009) as an area within energy research that has the potential to tackle large scale societal research challenges. In this one day workshop we brought together approximately 100 experts from academia, government, the research councils and industry to explore, and provide insights into, the techniques and applications developed by four major EPSRC projects in response to difference energy challenges.

The projects presented cover aspects of energy systems including smart grid, transmission networks, transport and domestic sector decision-making, and included:

  • Complex Adaptive Systems, Cognitive Agents and Distributed Energy (CASCADE): a Complexity Science-Based Investigation into the Smart Grid Concept
  • Preventing Wide-Area Blackouts Through Adaptive Islanding of Transmission Networks
  • SCALE (SMALL CHANGES LEAD TO LARGE EFFECTS): Changing Energy Costs in Transport and Location Policy
  • Future Energy Decision Making for Cities - Can Complexity Science Rise to the Challenge?

Participants were invited to hear about new research applying complexity science methods to energy challenges and had the opportunity to:

  • Exchange knowledge and understanding of state-of-the-art methods using complexity science approaches to study energy issues
  • Explore the practical applications of these methods
  • Meet collaborators across different academic disciplines working on energy-related projects as well as practitioners in the field
  • Help in the process of identifying priority areas for future work
  • Hear about research councils’ strategies in both complexity science and energy research

For further information please contact Dr Catherine Bale (

April 2012

As part of the Centre for Integrated Energy Research project on identifying Research Priorities for Low Carbon Energy and Cities, we hosted a workshop on Tuesday 17th April at the University of Leeds. The workshop was well attended with representatives from across the consultancy, commerce, central and local government, and civil society and a live debate ensued. Over the course of the day participants reviewed and prioritise research questions across topics including: energy demand; energy generation and supply; interfaces between the energy system and other urban systems; achieving societal and economic objectives in the transition to low carbon cities; and cross-cutting issues. The outcomes of the project, which we hope will shape the research agenda and wider dialogue around energy and cities, will be published later in the year. For further information on this project please contact Prof Peter Taylor.

March 2012

Peter Taylor, Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems at the Centre for Integrated Energy Research, launched a report on ‘Pathways for Energy Storage in the UK’ at the Royal Society. The report, funded by the Centre for Low Carbon Futures, identified the need for a more joined up plan for energy storage which is consistent with developments in the wider energy system. “Many different technologies can provide electricity and heat storage but their future prospects are clouded by a range of technical, economic, regulatory and social uncertainties. There is an urgent need to clarify the long-term vision for the role of energy storage and this might best be achieved through a UK roadmap that brings together inputs from relevant stakeholders, including government, researchers, business, regulators and representatives from civil society” said lead author, Peter Taylor from the University of Leeds. Richard Williams, Royal Academy of Engineering, and University of Birmingham, a key contributor to the report said: “Future scenarios indicate that energy storage is essential to reduce the burden on the electricity network. The use of electric vehicles and ground source pumps in domestic use will increase demand very substantially and intolerably on our grid. Storage is not an option but a necessity”.

Ambassador Richard Jones, Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, opened the Energy building at the University of Leeds (home to the Centre for Integrated Energy Research) on 21st March 2012. A strong interdisciplinary culture pervades energy technology research at Leeds.This has developed over many years, initially on an ad-hoc basis, but there are now a series of major strategic activities that integrate energy research across the Leeds campus and beyond.What has been lacking, thus far, is a physical hub to facilitate in-depth collaborative working that enables cutting-edge energy technologies to flourish in their policy and socio-technical context.

This hub is provided by the new University of Leeds Energy Building, which houses simultaneously:

  • Over 150 energy technology researchers from multiple institutes and centres
  • Cutting-edge laboratories for both research and teaching
  • Collaborative space serving as an intellectual focal point for the broader energy research community at Leeds

The entire energy building is designed to facilitate collaboration.Laboratories are grouped by function, not affiliation and are open-plan except where safety requires otherwise, so as to promote interaction amongst staff and students and hence cross-fertilisation of ideas.Similarly, the 50 students in the Leeds DTC are housed together, even though their research is conducted right across the campus and beyond.As might be expected, the Energy Building is itself a model of sustainability with the maximum possible BREEAM rating of “excellent.”