Energy Seminar – Week 5: The UK energy demand observatory – how Oxford helps to understand and accelerate changes in energy demand

Dr Phil Grunewald

Dr Phil Grunewald, who has been awarded a UKRI programme grant to build a national energy observatory.


Summary: The way we use energy will have to undergo fundamental changes during the transition towards a net-zero world. Many of the technical solutions are known: insulate homes, electrify heating and transport, deploy smarter, more efficient and flexible appliances. But how well do they work in practice? Tracking the impact requires careful observation and robust control groups.

Oxford leads the technology and social science of a new £8m UKRI investment to establish an energy demand observatory, which will track energy use in real households.

Additional laboratories facilitate scientifically rigorous testing of technologies, policies and other interventions, where the observatory acts as a control group. The data from this programme helps to pinpoint which measures are consistent with our decarbonisation pathways and where further action is required.

Phil’s presentation will show how Oxford and UCL have developed the capabilities for such an observatory over the past decade and what opportunities now lie ahead.

Read UKRI news announcement here.

Speaker: Phil Grunewald has been with the Oxford University since 2013. During this time he developed new approaches to understand how, why and when we use energy. With the help of an EPSRC Fellowship he was able to move from asking people to fill in paper diaries and attach his electricity recorders under their meter, to fully automated processes using smart meter data, IoT sensors and mobile apps. UKRI have now awarded a programme grant to build a national energy observatory for which Phil is the Oxford PI and technical lead.

Before joining the Department of Engineering Science in 2020, Phil was at the Environmental Change Institute, where he led the Oxford Energy Network and the Flexibility theme of the Energy Program.

In 2009 Phil was awarded an interdisciplinary UKERC scholarship for his PhD at Imperial College London on the future role of grid storage.

Prior to academia, Phil was a Marie Curie Fellow, developed the worlds first EUV lithography tool for Intel, laser processes for the photovoltaic industry and cycled round the world.


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