Energy Policy, People and Society

Energy system transition is too often seen as a technical problem for engineers. Equally important, it is an economic, social, political, and wider public policy challenge to be addressed by those with expertise in the social sciences and humanities disciplines.

As we transition towards a lower carbon society with an increased proportion of renewables in the energy mix, ETP universities are working with policy-makers and industry, right across the energy sector, to develop pathways and policy approaches that are not only technically, but economically, socially and politically feasible.

Thematically Driven

The ETP Energy, Policy, People and Society Theme is united by research, knowledge exchange and real-world impact aimed at addressing challenges around delivering ‘just transitions’ and other fiscally responsible and politically acceptable outcomes. This involves challenges around innovation systems, feasible policy making solutions and practical instruments to drive energy systems transformation across the whole energy system and the full energy mix, comprising:

•    All energy sources – renewables, fossil and nuclear
•    All energy pathways – electrical, fuel and thermal
•    All aspects of energy demand – residential, industrial, and public sector energy use
•    All geographic scales – from single buildings, to communities, to entire regions

Scottish Expertise in a Global Context

The Energy, People and Society Theme focuses on Scottish expertise, contributions, and networks in a global context, answering complex, interlinked challenges:
•    Across multiple pathways
•    Within and between systems
•    Across geographic scales
Our remit includes the social sciences and humanities; all those bringing useful insight and analyses to energy, society and sustainability themes beyond a purely engineering/physical science perspective.

    Knowledge Exchange and Growth

    Our approach is based on knowledge exchange, with insights fed inwards and outwards as we constructively challenge and navigate industry dialogue.

    We operate as a fully independent Scottish network to support academic research in an applied context, with a view to building collaboration, consortia, and skills through targeted support for ETP students and early careers researchers.

    ETP Academic Expertise in Energy, Policy, People and Society

    This theme complements, and draws upon, the expertise from the other 10 ETP Energy Themes. Areas of ETP academic expertise relevant to technically, economically, socially, and politically feasible energy systems include but are not limited to:
    •    Smart and hybrid energy systems and networks
    •    Computational design, modelling tools, simulation and analytics
        *    for e.g., resource efficiency, energy performance of buildings and whole energy systems, economics and socio-political factors, digital connectivity
        *    to improve e.g., robustness of inputs, scenario design, model calibration, soft-linking models
    •    Energy efficiency/ building energy management
    •    Energy Demand-Side Response (DSR) / Demand-Side Management (DSM)/
    •    Energy supply management / distributed generation
    •    Energy Storage Systems (ESS) / Hybrid Energy Storage Systems (HESS)

      Towards Transformed Energy Systems Under Constraints: Recognising Inevitable Trade-Offs in Decision Making

      By supporting and informing efforts to develop technically, economically, socially, and politically feasible energy systems transformations, ETP universities can facilitate incorporation of increased renewable and low carbon energy sources in ways that recognise the constraints and trade-offs involved in all decision making. Amongst many other contributions, this could enable us to:
      •        Make them smart(er), cleaner and fairer
      •        Use whole-systems economic modelling techniques to support and inform decision-making
      •        Increase and enhance energy supply in terms of sustainability, security, diversity of supply and policy support
      •        Increase the pace and scale of transition by developing instruments to drive energy systems transformation
      •        Deliver better solutions that incentivise transition on both supply and demand sides, including but not limiting to increasing consumer leadership, co-production, engagement, empowerment, satisfaction, and efficiency in energy use and management.

      Opportunities for Holistic Approaches

      There are many drivers and barriers for energy transition which can present both challenges and opportunities for technological innovation, such as: effective design of market incentives; operable and sustainable government policy; economic and industrial infrastructure. Diverse and inter-related factors are also governing the pace of change, including: economic; environmental, socio-political; security; technological advances; behavioural; cultural; and data management capabilities. As a result, taking a holistic whole economy and society approach to technological innovation is key to enabling the energy transition.

      Innovation funding

      We offer businesses based in Scotland access to resources including project funding to work with Scottish universities on research and innovation projects.

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      Energy Systems

      Energy Systems Integration

      ETP universities are working with policy-makers and industry, right across the energy sector, to support the development of Smart Energy Systems and increase Energy Systems Integration (ESI).

      Definition of Energy Systems Integration
      US National Renewable Energy Laboratory Report ‘Energy Systems Integration: A convergence of ideas’ (NREL July, 2012)

      Specific Knowledge Exchange support for Energy Systems can be found through ETP's Knowledge Exchange Network (KEN) and the Energy Systems Business Development Manager.

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