University research into energy topics tends to concentrate on the design and development of devices, such as tidal flow turbines, or more efficient ways of using energy. Energy policy studies look at how the combination of energy technologies can be combined to fulfil the needs of wider society.
Energy is involved in all aspects of life. We use energy to heat our houses and schools, grow, harvest and cook our food, fuel cars, ships and planes, fight wars and power the sound systems at music festivals. Making goods requires energy and so everything we buy contains “embedded energy”, often produced on the other side of the world.
The UK Government has signed-up to policies to reduce energy use, and in particular to cut the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels but the responsibility for action is spread over many government departments.
Energy policy studies within Energy Lancaster takes a global view of all aspects of energy use and how these fit together. Much of the work is carried out in conjunction with other bodies, including the Royal Academy of Engineering, The University of Leeds and The Institution of Engineering and Technology. The work extends to cover the sociology of energy use and not just the technical details and their environmental impact.
Lancaster academics have been involved in Generating the Future, a study into how energy is produced and used in the UK and the implications of the cuts obligated by the 2008 Climate Change Act.
Following on from this, we have studied electric vehicles as a means of transferring transport energy use from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
Transport studies have also looked at the barriers to walking and cycling.
At the other end of the scale, members of Energy Lancaster produced a report into the lessons learned from the construction of previous generations of nuclear power stations, resulting in a significant report published in 2011.
More recently, we have been involved in a major study, launched in January 2012, into how the heating of homes can be decarbonised.
Apart from this proactive research work, Energy Lancaster academics have been responded to government consultations on policy, most often through professional bodies, such as the IET Energy Policy Panel.