Manchester researchers to take a leading role in four national energy research centres

The University of Manchester’s expertise in offshore renewables, hydrogen integration, energy networks and energy demand will be used in the creation of four multi-million pound research centres to drive forward change in the energy sector and help to meet the UK’s net zero target by 2050.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation, the energy research centres will boost knowledge, create innovative green technologies and reduce demand for energy to achieve greener, cleaner, domestic, industrial and transport energy systems.

The University of Manchester researchers will partner with academics across the UK in four specialist research hubs, designed to address key challenges in the energy transition.

The four hubs are:

A new Energy Demand Research Centre, which will build an evidence base for understanding consumer behaviour, assessing the impact of socio-technical energy demand reduction measures, and research mechanisms to improve energy efficiency. The centre will draw on expertise from The University of Manchester’s Professor Stefan Bouzarovski, a global authority on energy poverty, justice and equity, to investigate how domestic, industrial and transport energy demand reduction can be delivered on a local and national level across the UK. The centre has been awarded £15 million from the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

A £10 million ESPRC-funded HI-ACT Hub, which will see The University of Manchester’s Professor Aoife Foley, Chair in Net Zero, help evaluate routes to effective integration of hydrogen into the wider energy landscape, addressing interactions with electricity, natural gas, heat, and transport. By considering a whole systems perspective, the research shall identify where hydrogen offers most value.

The Supergen Energy Networks Impact Hub, which will investigate the modernisation of energy transmission and distribution systems to make them a driving force towards a rapid, safe, and just transition to net zero. The Hub will be led by Professor Phil Taylor at the University of Bristol, supported by The University of Manchester’s Dr Robin Preece as Deputy Director and Dr Victor Levi and Dr Alessandra Parisio as co-directors.

The Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Impact Hub, which will deliver research to accelerate the impact of current generation and future ORE devices and systems and support the UK’s ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Researchers will focus on innovation and new technologies in wave, tidal, solar and wind power. As co-director, Professor Tim Stallard will lead the work stream titled “ORE Modelling”, with activities supported at The University of Manchester by two Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw Fellows – Dr Pablo Ouro and Dr Sam Draycott – and Research Fellow Dr Hannah Mullings.

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI, said: “The government has set a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, requiring rapid decarbonisation of our energy systems. UKRI is leveraging its ability to work across disciplines to support this ambition through a major portfolio of investments that will catalyse innovation and new green energy systems.

“The funding announced today will support researchers and innovators to develop game changing ideas to improve domestic, industrial and transport energy systems.”

Dr Robin Preece, Reader in Future Power System at The University of Manchester and Deputy Director of The Supergen Energy Networks Impact Hub added: “Given the need to rapidly reduce carbon emissions, making sure our work at The University of Manchester catalyses innovation and create new technologies is paramount. By collaborating with specialists across partner universities through these hubs, we can help develop pioneering ideas that addresses critical, real world challenges.”

With the support of energy experts, The University of Manchester, is committed to delivering an equitable and prosperous net zero energy future. By matching science and engineering, with social science, economics, politics and arts, the University’s community of 600+ experts address the entire lifecycle of each energy challenge, creating innovative and enduring solutions to make a difference to the lives of people around the globe. This enables the University’s research community to develop pathways to ensure a low carbon energy transition that will also drive jobs, prosperity, resilience and equality.

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