UCL Energy Institute


Latest UCL-Energy publications

1 December 2017

Deep uncertainty, energy epidemiology, sustainable development goals, and sociotechnical approaches - a round-up of the latest research to come from the UCL Energy Institute.


Across the Institute's four interacting themes researchers have been busy publishing papers and reports covering a diverse range of topics. Here's a round-up of recent highlights:


Using epidemiological methods in energy and buildings research to achieve carbon emission targets
Ian Hamilton, Alex Summerfield, Tadj Oreszczyn, Paul Ruyssevelt, Using epidemiological methods in energy and buildings research to achieve carbon emission targets, Energy and Buildings, Volume 154, 2017, Pages 188-197, ISSN 0378-7788, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2017.08.079.

This paper describes and illustrates the basis of the IEA EBC Annex 70: Building Energy Epidemiology, which draws on the health sciences to posit ‘energy epidemiology’ as a whole-system approach for empirical research that provides a methodological framework for building physicists, engineers, social scientists, and economists to engage in cross-disciplinary studies.

Beyond feedback: introducing the ‘engagement gap’ in organizational energy management.
Bull, R. and K. B. Janda. 2017. "Beyond feedback: introducing the ‘engagement gap’ in organizational energy management."  Building Research & Information:1-16. doi: 10.1080/09613218.2017.1366748.

This paper discusses socio-technical relationships between people, organizations and energy in workplaces. Inspired by Sherry Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation, it explores widening energy management beyond energy managers to other employees, introducing the idea of an ‘engagement gap’ to support a move beyond unidirectional forms of engagement (e.g. feedback and nudging) to more socially interactive processes.

Why are Most Buildings Rectangular? And Other Essays on Geometry and Architecture By Philip Steadman
Steadman, P. (n.d.). Why are most buildings rectangular? and other essays on geometry and architecture. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

This brings together a dozen essays and papers on architectural and urban form, written over the last twelve years. The book has two large themes: a morphological approach to the history of architecture, and studies of possibility in built form. Within this framework the papers cover the geometrical character of the building stock as a whole; histories of selected building types; analyses of density and energy in relation to built form; and systematic methods for enumerating building plans and built forms. One paper is co-authored with Ian Hamilton and Steve Evans of the Energy Institute: ‘Energy and urban built form: an empirical and statistical approach’

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Energy Systems

Uncertainty, politics, and technology: Expert perceptions on energy transitions in the United Kingdom
Li FGN, Pye S, 2018, Uncertainty, politics, and technology: Expert perceptions on energy transitions in the United Kingdom, Energy Research & Social Science 37, 122–132,doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2017.10.003

Energy policy is beset by deep uncertainties, owing to the scale of future transitions, the long-term timescales for action, and numerous stakeholders. This paper provides insights from semi-structured interviews with 31 UK experts from government, industry, academia, and civil society.  



Car Travel Demand: Spillovers and Asymmetric Price Effects in a Spatial Setting
Thanos, S., Kamargianni M., and Schafer A. 2017.Car Travel Demand: Spillovers and Asymmetric Price Effects in a Spatial SettingTransportation Science.

A novel analysis framework for the spatial aspects of car travel, measured by vehicle miles traveled (VMT), is introduced in this paper. The specification of a dynamic spatial Durbin model enables the analysis of VMT spatial spillovers and diffusion between neighboring areas in the short and long run. The framework is further developed to capture and introduce to a spatial setting potential asymmetry and hysteresis that can reflect reference dependence and habits. A panel data set is compiled at the subregional level, based on official car mileage recordings in England and Wales. In addition to the inelastic long-run responses of VMT to fuel price (−0.124) and income (0.116) changes, the results illustrate asymmetries and hysteresis in price elasticities with a significant spatial component. The impact magnitude on VMT from a number of factors, such as alternative fuel use, fuel deserts in rural areas, and road network and car fleet characteristics, is also estimated. The results are consistent with the car use saturation hypothesis through the positive impact of motorization rate to VMT. The negative effect of public transport infrastructure on car travel is only significant in the spatial models. The paper demonstrates the applicability and importance of spatial econometrics in transport research.

Energy Space Time

Cross-sectional Integration of the Water-energy Nexus in Brazil
Semertzidis, T., Spataru, C., & Bleischwitz, R. (2017). Cross-sectional Integration of the Water-energy Nexus in BrazilJournal of Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems. doi:10.13044/j.sdewes.d5.0169

This paper analyses the cross-sectoral integration of the water-energy nexus in Brazil. Recent droughts resulted in unprecedented water scarcity. This caused water shortages for population and agriculture, as well as for electricity production (hydropower being the main source of electricity production). As a result, the system became more vulnerable to blackouts. To alleviate the problem, fossil fuels were used as a back up. Droughts, floods and other water-related problems will not dissipate as time goes by in Brazil. The dependency on one single predominant source (hydropower) makes Brazil’s electricity supply vulnerable. This study shows through data analysis, flow diagrams and metrics the interrelation between water and energy. Based on historical data, the analysis shows the importance of the water demand for hydropower, cooling for thermal plants, and the extraction and production of biofuels, as well as of the energy demand of water services (water supply, wastewater treatment).   


Mapping synergies and trade-offs between energy and the Sustainable Development Goals
Tomei, J; Fuso-Nerini, F; To, LS; Bisaga, I; Parikh, P; Black, M; Borrion, A; Spataru, C; Castan-Broto, V; Anandarajah, G; Milligan, B; Mulugetta, Y; (2018) Mapping synergies and trade-offs between energy and the Sustainable Development Goals. Nature Energy (In press). http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/10037715/

Achieving equality, securing global peace and ending extreme poverty all depend on ensuring people have access to clean, affordable energy, By analysing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their related Targets, researchers found that access to clean and affordable energy is at the heart of around two-thirds of these targets – ranging from ending discrimination against women to ending poverty.

Using stories, narratives, and storytelling in energy and climate change research
Moezzi, M, K. B. Janda, and S. Rotmann. 2017. "Using stories, narratives and storytelling in energy & climate change research Energy Research & Social Science 31 (September):1-10. 

Energy and climate change research has been dominated by particular methods and approaches to defining and addressing problems, accomplished by gathering and analysing the corresponding forms of evidence. This special issue starts from the broad concepts of stories, narratives, and storytelling to go beyond these analytic conventions, approaching the intersection of nature, humanity, and technology in multiple ways, using lenses from social sciences, humanities, and practitioners’ perspectives.