Significantly reducing energy demand in industry requires reducing demand for energy intensive materials. To complement CIE-MAP’s research objectives our work at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) will explore strategies for changing the way we design, purchase, use and replace goods. Our research aims to extend work on sustainable consumption to the decisions taken in industry, government and households driving material demand. While many aspects of purchasing behaviour are understood, at least superficially, knowledge about preferences relating to product lifetimes is relatively weak. A major quantitative survey will be undertaken by NTU researchers and will provide the first reliable trend data on the lifetime of key products.
Led by Professor Tim Cooper, a team of four post-doctoral researchers and four PhD students will explore how to tackle excessive demand for materials in order to cut energy consumption substantially. NTU’s research will address a range of themes, including attitudes towards product lifetimes, the extent to which price is a reliable indicator of quality, why and how products depreciate in value, and how to encourage repair rather than replacement. The particular expertise that we are bringing to the project relates to design, sustainable consumption and behavioural analysis which complements the scientific skills of other partners.
To achieve a low carbon society, a step change in reducing the energy expended by UK industry is needed, and can only come about if we are able to identify new ways of designing, using, and delivering products, materials and services. While traditional research on mitigation of carbon emissions has focused on direct consumption of energy (how we supply energy, what types of fuel we use, and how we use them etc.), the role that publics, society and decision makers might play in energy demand reduction through achieving transitions in the use of material and products is less well studied. Complementing the wealth of existing research within CIE-MAP, the Understanding Risk Research Group at Cardiff University aims to address these questions, drawing on extensive experience in both qualitative and quantitative social science research methods, as well as insights and methodologies developed in a recent study for the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) investigating public responses to energy system transitions. Of particular interest are questions surrounding the social acceptability of different transition strategies, ranging from the light-weighting or redesign of buildings, cars and products, to a wholescale shift in consumption patterns from an ownership to a service delivery model.
Led by an experienced team (Prof. Nick Pidgeon, Dr. Catherine Cherry, Dr. Kat Steentjes) and partnered by the Green Alliance (led by Dustin Benton), the 3 year 9 month project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The project aims to conduct a programme of novel empirical research into public perspectives on and acceptability of a range of different demand reduction strategies, designed to reduce the energy used in industry, materials and products, utilising an interdisciplinary multi-method approach. It will address fundamental gaps in our knowledge of how society and decision-makers will receive and engage with innovative means of using and delivering materials in UK products and services in more sustainable ways. In addition to conducting fundamental empirical research, through stakeholder interviews, public deliberative workshops and a national survey of wider public perceptions, the project will also enhance CIE-MAP’s policy engagement through a comprehensive knowledge exchange programme with senior UK decision-makers and Parliamentarians coordinated by the Green Alliance.
For more information visit: http://www.understanding-risk.org
University of Bath
The University of Bath team, led by Professor Geoff Hammond, has an established reputation for carrying out good quality research into industrial energy demand and usage. This encompasses the fields of:
- Energy Analysis.
- Exergy analysis (a measure of the usability of a particular energy source).
- Reject heat utilisation.
- Renewable energy utilisation.
- Energy trend analysis.
- Decomponsitional analysis (investigating the background to energy trends).
- Utilisation of scenario and pathways to provide credible narratives identifying alternative futures and routes to reach them.
- Carbon capture and storage.
- Whole system lifecycle process energy and emission analysis.
Much of this work is multidisciplinary in nature and has been conducted in collaboration with industry, public bodies and other academic institutions.
These skills are being used to investigate:
- The possible range of energy demand of UK industry over different time frames up to 2050.
- Opportunities for improved energy efficiency within UK industry, both by adopting world best practice and new technologies.
- Examine the extent to which previously identified energy efficiency opportunities have been adopted.
- The possible range of the demand for of UK industry key energy intensive industrial materials (both domestically produced and imported) over different time frames up to 2050.
- Provide an inventory of key energy intensive industrial materials that could be available of reuse or recycling.
- The possible impact of emerging technologies of future industrial energy and key material demands.
- Thermodynamic of circular economies.