Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand

Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand


Fuel poverty research presented to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for energy and climate change speaking at workshop on fuel povertyDr Mari Martiskainen presented her research on fuel poverty at a workshop attended by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd. The aim of the workshop on Community Solutions to Fuel Poverty was to bring together a range of expertise in fuel poverty work and present concrete policy recommendations to the Secretary of State. The event took place in Hastings, an area badly affected by fuel poverty, on 13 May. 

You can read Mari's account of the workshop on the Sussex Energy Group blog.


Image by Mari Martiskainen

CIED researcher Jan Rosenow gave evidence on energy efficiency at The Energy and Climate Change Committee in December 2015.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee is a group of MPs appointed by the House of Commons to scrutinise the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  In this session the Committee assessed a range of proposals for future energy efficiency schemes.  Jan Rosenow

Tackling fuel poverty - Whose responsibility is it?  

A public debate on fuel poverty.  

Tuesday 10th November at the Friends meeting House in Brighton 7-9pm.  ESRC CIED fuel poverty event poster

Fuel poverty is a silent killer that has been neglected in envergy debates for too long.  Around 2.35 million households live infuel poverty in England, while an estimated 25,000 die each year because of it.  Come and join our expert panel as we debate 'tackling fuel poverty, whose responsibility is it?'

Makerspaces and sustainability workshop

How can makerspaces, fablabs and hackerspaces help cultivate sustainable developments?

October 26 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Machines Room, 45 Vyner StreetLondon, E2 9DQ United Kingdom

Interest in the social, economic and environmental possibilities of makerspaces and the maker movement continues to grow. This event brings together people involved or interested in sustainability activities to share, discuss, and reflect upon their experiences.

In the discussions, our objective will be to consider strategies for promoting and reinforcing the roles makerspaces can and could play in sustainable developments, including extending connections with opportunities in wider society and economy.

This event is organised by SPRU and CIED (the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand), from the University of Sussex, together with the STEPS Centre.

CIED AT THE #IST2015 Sustainability Transitions Conference

Last week the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) hosted the International Sustainability Transitions Conference here at the University of Sussex.Members of the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED) presented posters, papers and chaired events throughout the conference.

You can find out more and see the pictures on @SPRU’s storify (#IST2015).

Read about the conference from a PhD perspective on the Sussex Energy Group blog in a post by Jonas Torrens & Gijs Diercks - Steps towards an engaged and reflexive community: looking back at PhD-led activities at the International Sustainability Transitions conference.

Huge congratulations to CIED’s Karoline Rogge who won ‘Best Poster’ with her entry.Image of Karoline Rogge presenting her poster at the IST conference

CIED’ s Paula Kivimaa presented a poster on how energy use of the building stock in the capital of Finland, Helsinki has changed over a longer period of time, and how this coincides with tightening building regulations. Paula's poster shows both change in the energy efficiency of buildings constructed in different decades (the first two figures) as well as improvement in the existing building stock (the third figure).Energy Efficiency in Buildings in the City of Helsinki – A Long Run Sustainability Transition [PDF 1.78MB]   photo of Paula Kivimaa presenting her poster at IST 2015

Victoria Johnston and Frank Geels presented their paper - Adoption, upscaling, replication/circulation, and societal embedding: Four theoretical models of technology diffusion applied to biomass district heating systems in Austria (1979-2013) Johnson, Geels. Mari Martiskainen chaired the discussion.

CIED research features in an upcoming Research Council UK event on 'Sustainable Science Bringing Cutting Edge Science into the Classroom'

On 20th March 2015, Dr Florian Kern and Prof Gordon MacKerron will participate in this Research Council event which aims to look beyond the technologies and will also consider the processes from a social science perspective. In their presentations, Dr Kern and Prof MacKerron will cover issues of energy demand as well as energy supply that are closely linked to some of the work done by CIED. The event is part of the Sussex Science Learning Partnership, and focuses on delivering "quality science CPD by Science teachers for Science teachers". For more information on this event, please click here [PDF 399 KB]

CIED ‘travelling seminar series’ visits Green Alliance

On February 26th, as part of CIED’s ‘travelling seminar series’ connecting it’s research to key stakeholder organisations,  Dr Florian Kern and Centre Manager Sarah Schepers visited Green Alliance,  a charity and independent think tank focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. The organisation is a member of the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand’s  Advisory Group playing a very valuable role advising on  the policy relevance of the Centre’s research. Florian gave a seminar on ‘Policy mixes and the transition towards a low carbon economy’ where he outlined some of the conceptual thinking around sustainability transitions and policy mixes, often including various policy goals, instruments and strategies. It has long been acknowledged within ‘innovation studies’  that the stimulation of innovation involves different types of policy instruments, but how such instruments interact and form policy mixes has  only recently become of interest. He argued that transitions imply not only the development of disruptive innovations but also of policies aiming for systemic change. Ideally policy mixes for transitions might include elements of ‘creative destruction’, aiding low energy innovations to gain ground while destabilising existing,  unsustainable, socio-technical energy systems. He then went on to  apply this thinking to current UK policies to stimulate energy efficiency in buildings. This was followed by a very interesting discussion with the Green Alliance team about the applicability of this research to current energy policymaking , making some interesting observations on the research project which will help in later stages of the work.

On Sustainability Conference 2015

Dr Lee Stapleton presented his work with Steve Sorrell and Tim Schwanen on rebound effects at the 2015 Sustainability Conference on 23 January 2015.

front page of Lee Stapleton's powerpoint presentation.

Exploring the Direct Rebound Effect: Systematic Relationships between Model Robustness and Coefficient Estimates

Dr. Lee Stapleton, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, Brighton, UKOverview: In this paper the direct rebound effect is explored in terms of the elasticity of vehicle kilometres travelled with respect to two price metrics.

Theme: Sustainability Policy and Practice

CIED official launch event, London

The Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED) was officially launched at a well-attended joint event with the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group at Portcullis House, London on 12th June 2014. Dr Alan Whitehead MP chaired a vigorous debate on the future energy-efficiency revolution – introduced by five panellists and followed by broader and very informed contributions from the floor.

Steve Sorrell, Director of CIED and Co-Director of the Sussex Energy GroupSPRU, began by providing an overview of the Centre and its approach to reducing energy demand. Steve argued that the dominant approaches to energy efficiency policy, informed by orthodox economics and social psychology, needed to be supplemented by much greater emphasis on technological innovation and long-term transformation of the ‘socio-technical’ systems used to deliver heating, mobility and other services. Moreover,sustaining long-termreductions in energy demand requires the multiple rebound effects triggered by such changes to be effectively addressed.

Clive Maxwell, Director General, Consumers and Households at DECC, summarised the UK Energy Efficiency Strategy and the government’s approach to reducing energy demand, while Andy Deacon, Director of Delivery, Energy Savings Trust, elaborated on some of the practical challenges involved. Frank Geels, Co-Director of CIED, highlighted some of the difficulties with current policy (such as the slow progress on the Green Deal) and emphasised the importance of systemic change and ‘socio-technical transitions’ as well as the need for putting intentions into practice. Finally, David Hall, Executive Director, Behaviour Change, discussed the challenges of consumer engagement with energy efficiency, including some of the approaches used in the Big Energy Idea.

There followed a series of challenging questions and observations from the audience, including the relative merits of voluntary action and regulation, the importance of new entrants versus incumbents, the critical role of energy efficiency and reducing energy bills and the potential for ‘apps’ to encourage demand reduction. The discussion highlighted a variety of barriers and possible solutions to significant energy demand reduction, on which the panel gave their views.

One message was that the UK’s recent performance appears relatively good by international standards, with household energy consumption falling by ~2% per year since 2005 and with the UK being one of the least energy intense economies in the G8. However, this position results in part from the offshoring of energy intensive manufacturing and the combined effect of the challenges faced by the Green Deal and the changes to ECO are likely to slow the rate of improvement in the household sector in the medium-term.

Frank Geels commented upon the lack of ‘revolutionaries’, change agents and broader political will. He suggested there was too great an emphasis on individual technologies rather than the systems in which they are embedded, with users of technologies and the human factor being relatively neglected. A greater focus on emotional and rational benefits was suggested to move away from supply-side interests dominating demand-side responses. User engagement could be effectively framed around empowerment, with community energy service providers potentially providing an important role in implementing projects and raising awareness.

Driving the energy efficiency revolution requires more integrated policy making and cross-departmental cooperation to tackle the multiple cross-cutting issues involved. This requires the government taking a more active role. There is significant progress with the government estate, but this should not be confused with broader initiatives on public sector procurement and greener government – which forms a necessary part of leading by example. The issue of trust was also highlighted, together with the potential catalytic role of smart meters in facilitating broader systemic change.

On the other hand it was suggested that government and dominant business interests may hold the energy efficiency revolution back as there is an unwillingness to challenge perceptions and consider more radical options. Smaller cars were one example but downsizing and reconceptualising spaces for living and working were also put forward to avoid the need to travel in the first place. Systemic change can only come through a shift in focus from technologies towards the customers of demand-side solutions such as individuals, communities and cities which act both as incubators and diffusors of demand side innovations that are fuelling the energy efficiency revolution.

The event concluded with a summary and remarks from Alan Whitehead followed by networking.

Ofgem visit to discuss non-traditional business models to support transformative change in the energy market

On 24th March the Sussex Energy Group at SPRU and the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand hosted Dr Jeff Hardy, Head of Sustainable Energy Strategy at Ofgem who focuses on non-traditional business models, future energy systems and sustainable development. In February 2015, Ofgem published a discussion paper on ‘Non-traditional business models: Supporting transformative change in the energy market’. SEG and CIED invited Jeff to visit to give a seminar on the discussion paper which was well attended by researchers, students and several representatives from local energy co-operatives including OVESCOCommunity Energy South and Brighton Energy Co-op.

Recently, there has been a wave of new entry to the energy market and many of these entrants have new and non-traditional business models (NTBMs). This is a trend that is likely to continue. In his presentation, Dr Jeff Hardy explored  the drivers for this wave of new entry, the characteristics and types of organisations entering the market and their benefits, costs and risks. Ofgem are interested in  how they could transform the energy market and how regulation may impact upon them both now and in the future. The seminar was an opportunity for local energy providers, students and researchers to provide Dr Hardy with some initial responses to the questions raised in the discussion document. This seminar was followed by a round table discussion with researchers from SEG and CIED who provided early responses to the Ofgem document. Sussex Energy Group and CIED will be following up this visit with a more formal and collective written response to the discussion document in early May.w

CIED Research Workshop with Brighton and Hove City Council

On Thursday 28th May CIED convened a research workshop with key members of Brighton and Hove City Council as part of CIED’s endeavours to ensure that its energy demand research relevant, accessible and policy focused. With a  first round of research projects already underway CIED is starting to develop ideas for a second round of projects. The aim of this workshop was to discuss opportunities to match projects where possible to city priorities where there could be a mutual benefit and knowledge sharing potential. Opportunities explored were possible placement of researchers within the council for short secondments to facilitate knowledge exchange and sharing of research findings to support council policy development.

In attendance from Brighton and Hove City Council were a number of people working across all areas of sustainability including transport planning, City planning, housing and energy management.

Following a presentation given by Centre Director Steve Sorrell on the research focus and themes of CIED, Tim Schwanen, Co-Director presented an outline of the project Innovations in urban transport ‘and shared some initial findings. A subsequent round table discussion on the project identified several opportunities for future collaboration on transport related issues as did a conversation on the project The diffusion of energy service contracting where there may be a possibility for a CIED researcher to undertake a short placement to further the research in this area.

The workshop concluded with several follow up opportunities identified and a commitment by CIED to organise more such workshops through the ‘engagement hub’ that bring local organisations interested in energy demand together.