New UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand announced by EPSRC and ESRC

A new research centre, the UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand (UKCRED), to develop and deliver internationally leading research, focusing on energy demand from a systemic, socio-technical perspective, is announced today by two research councils.

Funded with £19.5 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), it will bring together a world-leading and multi-disciplinary group of researchers and be led by the RCUK Energy Demand Research Champion, Professor Nick Eyre, at the University of Oxford.

They will look to lead whole systems research on energy demand in the UK. They will champion research that is inter-disciplinary and whole systems, focusing on the energy demand aspects of the transition to a secure and affordable low carbon energy system, and the existing excellent single-disciplinary and component-related research.

Jackson Senior Research Fellow and Professor of Energy and Climate Policy, University of Oxford

Professor Eyre said: “The goals of a secure, affordable, low carbon energy system are only achievable if energy demand is reduced, decarbonised and made more flexible. Understanding how these changes can happen is a major inter-disciplinary research challenge.

The UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand gives us a major opportunity to address this challenge, building on existing excellent UK research. We aim to play a leading role in global research, and for the Centre to act as a hub, enabling all UK energy demand research to have more coordinated impact on business and policy decisions.”

The proposed programme of research will have several themes that align well with elements of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, especially ‘Improving Business and Industry Efficiency’, ‘Improving our Homes’ and ‘Accelerating the Shift to Low Carbon Transport’.

The Centre involves over 40 academics at 13 institutions across the UK and Professor Eyre will be supported by a team of seven Co-Directors who have a balance of skills, covering the key energy demand sectors – buildings, transport and industry – and a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds.

Collectively they have almost 200 person years of experience in energy demand research, with an emphasis on technology, innovation and systems perspectives. The Co-Directors all have a track record of strong commitment to inter-disciplinary research. They have played leading roles in all the key research council investments in energy demand research, including the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and the End Use Energy Demand (EUED) Centres.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: “This new Centre for Research on Energy Demand will play an important role in developing policy and practical innovations that can help the UK address energy demand over the coming decades. The inter-disciplinary nature of the research means we can get a much clearer picture of what needs to be done, both technologically and socially, to bring about change in energy use and demand. The team led by Professor Eyre are of a high calibre and I am confident they will make a big difference to the long term ambitions of the UK to meet its international obligations.”

The UKCRED involves the following institutions:

  • University of Oxford
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Reading
  • University College London
  • Loughborough University
  • Lancaster University
  • The University of Manchester
  • University of Sussex
  • University of Surrey
  • London School of Economics
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of the West of England
  • University of York

Energy Demand and Efficiency Researchers Oxford



The Engineering Department signs five-year agreement with Ørsted to optimise wind turbine foundations

The Engineering Department and renewable energy company Ørsted have signed a five-year research framework agreement to optimise the design of foundation structures for offshore wind turbines.

Continuing to drive down costs is critical for the offshore wind industry. More advanced geotechnical designs for foundations can make a significant impact as the foundations contribute significantly to the overall wind turbine capital costs. Ørsted and the Department of Engineering Science have already collaborated on a range of projects over 10 years, including the recently completed PISA (Pile Soil Analysis) project, leading to significant improvements in the design of offshore wind foundations.  The PISA Project won the British Geotechnical Association’s Fleming Award for 2017.

Byron Byrne, Professor of Engineering Science in the Civil and Offshore Engineering Research Group, said: “This exciting new phase of collaboration with Ørsted will put the next generation of offshore wind farms on more secure and cost effective foundations through robust design methods for cyclic loading. This will be challenging but essential if the cost of offshore wind energy is to be further reduced.”

The research under the framework agreement will further develop, extend and embed new geotechnical design ideas into well-defined engineering methods for offshore wind power. The focus will be on cyclic loading, which is an important element of safe design, especially for deeper water and larger turbines.

Cyclic loading is the repeated loading that comes from the action of wind and waves on the structure, as well as the operation of the turbine. The research activities will deliver new design methods to address this cyclic loading, through doctoral and post-doctoral research projects, including on theoretical development, soil laboratory testing and medium scale field tests.

Christina Aabo, Head of R&D at Ørsted Wind Power, said: “We are excited about this agreement with the University of Oxford, a world leading institution, which will help us better understand how we can optimise the design of wind turbine foundations. This partnership will enable us to further mature our foundation designs to support even bigger turbines in even deeper waters, lowering costs and risk level at the same time.”

Marine Researchers Oxford

Marine Research at Oxford

Fossil Fuels Research at Oxford

Fossil Fuel Researchers Oxford

Oxford University Innovation launches Oxford Sustainable Fuels

Oxford University Innovation is launching Oxford Sustainable Fuels (OSF), a new spinout company founded on technology that can turn waste from plastic, tyres and biomass into high quality transportation fuels and chemicals.

The team from l to r: Dr Tiancun Xiao, Founder, CEO; Prof Peter Edwards, Founder and Chair of Scientific Advisory Board; Dr Zhaoxi Zhang, Founder, CTO; Ben Williams, COO.

The rate of global plastic production has exploded in recent years, with the total amount of plastic produced annually now roughly the same as the entire weight of humanity. Today, less than 10% of plastic is recycled due to complexity of sorting, separating and cleaning for the recycling process. The mass of plastic waste continues to build at an alarming rate in the global environment, polluting our oceans and entering the food chain.

OSF, underpinned by research conducted at the University, plans to reduce the environmental impact of plastics by providing a low energy process to convert it and other solid hydrocarbon waste material into high quality transportation fuels. As its starting point, the company will utilise pyrolysis, a technology that thermally decomposes plastics in absence of oxygen and transforms them into an oil-like substance known as pyrolysis oil.

To date, pyrolysis oil itself has found few uses. However, Dr Tiancun Xiao, Prof Peter Edwards and Dr Zhaoxi Zhang from Oxford University’s Department of Inorganic Chemistry have discovered highly efficient methods to purify and upgrade this material to gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. OSF will capitalise on their technology by improving the commercial viability of pyrolysis as a waste management method, creating valuable products from material that would otherwise been disposed of through landfill and incineration, or end up polluting our oceans.

Significantly for the fight against pollution, the OSF process is able to handle mixed plastic and thus negates the need for sorting and separation, and will be complementary to current recycling methods in the effort to eliminate waste.

The Oxford-based company, which was spun out from the University by Oxford University Innovation, the institution’s research commercialisation arm, has raised £1m in seed investment from the investment arm of GEM, a Shenzhen-based waste recycling firm. This seed investment will be used to develop and scale up the technology to a pre-pilot plant scale. The company plans to have begun deploying its technology against plastic waste within five years.

Dr Tiancun Xiao, CEO of Oxford Sustainable Fuels, said: “It is our aim to become a key element of the circular economy by enabling the economic transformation of waste to valuable and needed products. To be a part of the solution in helping our global and local environment is a huge motivation for us. We believe this to be a key element in the fight against plastic in the oceans by turning waste into a valued raw material.”

Professor Peter Edwards, Statutory Chair in Inorganic Chemistry and co-founder of OSF, stated: “What’s important about OSF is that it is founded on new ways of thinking about plastic waste as a global resource for responsible recycling. My generation of chemists have spent their careers focussing on making plastics more efficiently, with better properties, but now we must turn our attention to dealing with the legacy of plastic waste material.”

A GEM industrial recycling operation

Dr Kaihua Xu, President of GEM, said: “The OSF team from Oxford have developed a pyrolysis oil upgrading technology that not only solves the problem of organic waste but also provides renewable energy for the future. We are delighted to have the opportunity to invest in this project and provide all possible support for development and promotion. GEM is an advocate and practitioner of circular economy in the world, Oxford University is the best University in the world. We firmly believe that the collaboration between China’s outstanding environmental protection enterprise GEM and the team from Oxford University will surely create positive chemistry and contribute to the development of the world’s green industries.”

Solar Researchers Oxford

Oxford to have key role in multi-million pound energy storage research

Oxford University is to be a key player in an extensive new activity supporting the development of next-generation batteries.

A team of the UK’s leading battery experts from universities across the UK will contribute to the work which will be enabled by £42 million funding provided by the independent national battery research facility, the Faraday Institution.

Announced today at the Royal Society conference on energy storage for automotive and grids, the work will encompass four initial projects, focused respectively on solid-state electrodes, battery modelling, degradation, and recycling.

Professor Peter Bruce, FRS, FRSE, Wolfson Professor of Materials in Oxford’s Department of Materials, will lead the work on developing solid-state metal-anode batteries while scientists from both Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science and Mathematical Institute will work closely with Imperial College London on investigations into the multi-scale modelling of batteries.

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The Faraday Institute

Storage researchers in Oxford

Changes to the organisation of the Oxford Energy Network

As some of you will know, Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith has stepped down from his role as Director of Energy for the University, and therefore as network convenor, after 7 years. Chris has made huge steps forward in the way we collaborate on, and publicise, energy research in Oxford. He will be a difficult act to follow, but we are going to try.

Chris’s role has been taken on by Nick Eyre, who many of you will know. Details of Nick’s research interests can be found here. And I have recently taken over the co-ordination of the Oxford Energy Network. The primary role of the network is to communicate across the twelve segments of the network.

In the short term, at least, we are going to aim to maintain the forms of interaction Chris has established – namely the Oxford Energy network website, a weekly Energy Colloquium, periodic meetings for the policy community, drawing on Oxford research insights, and an annual Energy Day. We have already begun to put plans in place, with the support of a Steering group for the network drawn from most of the departments undertaking energy-related research.

We are also keen to support funding applications wherever we can, by providing a “pathway to impact”, and making links to other relevant researchers. Nick and I aim to visit every department in the network this year to discuss priorities. In the meantime, if you have a funding proposal where OEN may be able to assist with an interdisciplinary collaboration, please get in touch with me.

We have been asked to report to the University on funding activity connected to OEN, and therefore are beginning to track successful energy research applications in the university, and would be pleased to hear from Network members about any such activity which may have been assisted by the network, and about energy research proposals submitted or announced in Michaelmas Term 2017. It would be appreciated if you could let me have this as soon as possible as we have been asked to submit this report in W2HT.

The network website is the main ‘window to the world’ on energy research in Oxford and we will try to capture all significant developments. If you have any new projects or information, which I can add to the website, this would be appreciated.

Anne L Ryan

Oxford Energy Co-ordinator

Oxford Photovoltaics to receive EU finance

Oxford Photovoltaics Germany GmbH, a subsidiary of Oxford PV, has announced they have received an EU bank financing of €15 million, to support the transfer of its perovskite on silicon tandem solar cell technology from lab scale to commercialisation.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) funding, awarded to Oxford PV Germany GmbH, is the first financing in Germany under the InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators’ Energy Demonstrator Projects’, with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2010 Financial Instruments – aimed at supporting European innovators such as Oxford PV, tackling tomorrow’s challenges and supporting climate action.

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Source: Oxford Photovoltaics


Young Energy Professionals Forum – the YEP forum

Energy UK’s Young Energy Professionals Forum, sponsored by CGI, drives the development of young people across the whole industry. The network provides opportunities to collaborate, improve and recognise success through topical events, access to industry leaders and site visits. Our membership has grown beyond 1450, spanning 270 different companies.

This prospectus brings together just a small snapshot of the huge breadth of jobs that are available in the energy industry today. There are of course many more jobs out there across the supply chain, with a huge selection of exciting opportunities! The possibilities across the energy industry are vast, so do your research and be amazed by the variety of companies and roles you can go into.

Read more here

Energy UK Young Energy Professionals Forum – guide to jobs in energy

YEP Forum – Toolkit

2 Oct: Energy in Growing Economies

Oxford Energy Day

2 October 2017, Maths Institute

Energy in Growing Economies

According to BP’s 2017 Energy Outlook, energy use in non-OECD countries is expected to increase by some 50%  and make up over two-thirds of global energy consumption by 2035.  This is lifting billions out of poverty, and underwriting the achievement of the millennium goals. How this increase is achieved, and whether it can be accelerated, is not only of interest for OECD countries. Opportunities to develop new models for providing energy uninhibited by existing infrastructure may provide lessons for others.

This event will bring together international speakers to discuss challenges and opportunities for growing economies.


2016/17 New Energy Systems Thinkers programme announced

This term the Energy Network is running a series of introductory lectures on energy issues at the Oxford Martin School. The talks are aimed at postgraduate students but they are open to the wider University community. Topics covered include: energy and development, the carbon problem, energy economics, wind and tidal power and storage. For more information on the talks visit the New Energy Systems Thinkers (NEST) website. Register to attend the talks here.