Thursday 7 February 2013

After attending a 2 day Research Councils UK (RCUK) workshop on future research needs in Energy in the Home and Workplace I have been thinking about research needs around energy efficiency. It is true to say that just applying existing technologies into situations where they are already economic would go a long way to closing the energy efficiency gap and achieving the full potential, there is always scope for more research. To me this seems to fall into three buckets; technology, information and social/economic.


My back of the envelope (front of the iPad) thoughts on my energy efficiency research wish list are:

  • super thin, lightweight, low cost (and probably transparent) insulation materials
  • building materials that change thermal and transparency characteristics
  • low cost high performance heat exchangers
  • low cost thermoelectric generators that operate at low temperatures
  • better grid and local scale electrical storage technologies
  • how do we use the energy consumption data that exists (especially for non-domestic buildings) to learn more about buildings actually perform and make the data transparent to enable collaboration across cities and regions?
  • how do we make our building models more accurate?
  • build a detailed understanding of the enabling conditions and constraints on decision makers that affect energy use and energy efficiency investment.  This has to be on a disaggregated segment basis, different segments even in a sector such as commercial buildings or the public sector have different enabling conditions and constraints.
  • build better understanding of the link between improved energy efficency and the growth of the economy.  This is a macro view of the rebound effect.
  • build better understanding of how reducing electricity demand in a local area can impact current and future investment needs of the Distribution Network Operators (& then what regulatory changes are needed to capture all the economic benefits)
That’s my starter for 10.
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Dr Steven Fawkes

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