Oxford University is to take a lead role in a new research centre which will develop and deliver world-leading expertise, focused on addressing the UK’s socio-technical energy challenges.

The UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand (UKCRED), was announced today by Claire Perry, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth.

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

The UKCRED will look to lead whole systems research on energy demand in the UK and champion inter-disciplinary research, that supports the transition to a secure and affordable low carbon energy system.

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”.

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 Centre involves over 40 academics at 13 institutions across the UK, which include the University of Reading, UCL and LSE. Professor Eyre will be supported by a team of seven Co-Directors who come from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds and have a balance of skills that will cover the key energy demand sectors - buildings, transport and industry.

Collectively they have almost 200 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 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.’