UCL Energy Institute


UK can halve its energy demand by 2050 suggests new CREDs framework

27 June 2022

New framework to understand energy demand reduction in developed countries published in Nature Energy with input from UCL Energy Institute researchers

London buses at night in a lit commercial shopping district

A new paper providing a framework to understand how much energy demand reduction developed countries can achieve at a national level has been published today in Nature Energy by the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS). 

Current emissions pledges by developed countries continue to fall short of the 1.5 °C Paris Agreement target. A stronger focus on energy demand reduction in national mitigation plans could reduce this shortfall. The research suggests that it will be difficult and expensive to meets net-zero targets without developed countries taking serious measures to reduce demand for energy.

Findings from the paper suggest however that the UK can halve its energy demand by 2050. This world-first framework can be applied by other developed countries to explore their own energy demand reduction.

Steve Pye, Associate Professor in Energy Systems and Deputy Director for UCL Energy Institute said:

“The UK can halve its energy demand by 2050, through strong efforts on energy efficiency and positive social changes to our diets, how we heat our homes, travel around, and use products. This is crucial to meeting our climate goals, allowing for more rapid and immediate action over the coming decade, and reducing our reliance on high-risk carbon dioxide removal technologies in the longer term. It also provides an opportunity to shift away from fossil fuels and increase our resilience in the future to the energy price spikes seen today.”
“This paper is an important contribution to show the role that reduced energy demand can play both in the UK but also in other developed countries around the world. The research highlights the need for the UK government to get serious about energy demand reduction, and to develop an energy strategy that puts energy demand reduction at its core.”

Several researchers from UCL Energy Institute contributed to the research. Drawing on the Institute’s energy systems modelling expertise, Steve Pye, Oliver Broad and James Price worked with CREDs researchers to develop the project and research concept, and undertook modelling using the UK TIMES energy system model. From the Institute’s Energy and Buildings team, Tadj Oreszczyn and George Bennett undertook the household modelling whilst Paul Ruyssevelt undertook the non-domestic buildings modelling. 

Read the paper on Nature Energy