UCL Energy Institute

Prof Catalina Spataru

Prof Catalina Spataru

Professor of Global Energy and Resources

Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
18th Oct 2010

Research summary

Catalina expertise is in the field of global energy and resources (energy, water, materials, land, food nexus), from theoretical investigations to implementation of research and practice to support policy makers and sustainability agenda. She is the Founder and the Head of the Islands Laboratory at UCL https://islandslaboratory.com, a unique initiative that aims to assess sustainable solutions for island nations and island cities in a circular economy under different climatic conditions. She is currently Principal investigator for projects, one being Re-Energize Governance of DR3 funded through the Belmont Forum. She has made contributions on climate and  sustainability strategies, some examples of her work:
  • RADaR model for resource allocation pre- and post-disasters (2019-2020)
  • ISLA model to assess future changes in energy demand and supply (2013) under different climate conditions which has been applied to more than 270 islands;

  • IDA3/5 (2014) to analyse trade-offs between water, energy, land systems under different climate scenarios; 
  • GLoDiesel model (2016) for electricity interconnections and storage; 
  • A Smart Home tool (2007-2010) with a friendly user interface to determine potential savings due to behavioural change and technologies upgrade;

  • A decision making tool for safety and risk assessment of end users following releases of NG/H2, probability assessment of leakages and explosions (2005-2009), work used to define a Decision Support Tool by EC for EU countries, to assess the socio-economic aspects of H2 addition to NG system;
  • Developed and tested adaptive indoor localisation systems for people tracking and activity recognition including wireless networks, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and cameras (2008-2011);
  • In addition, contributed to the dynamic energy model DynEMo (2010-2013), and development of the scalable dynamic energy model (DEAM) (2013-2015) simulating energy flows for consumers connected to substations to determine possible future loads imposed to plan upgrades

Teaching summary

She is currently leading and teaching two modules:

  • Metrics, Modelling and Visualisation of the Resource Nexus module (MSc Sustainable Resources) (since 2015- ) an interdisciplinary module developed to provide an understanding of trade-offs between resources (water, energy, land, food, materials) in a circular economy, with focus on sustainable islands
  • Smart Energy Systems Module (MSc EDE) (since 2013- ), a multidisciplinary module which she proposed and developed to provide students with an understanding of methods, concepts and practice of current and future whole energy system dynamics, offering a combination of theory, practical case studies, with interactive exercises, use of data and development of a model for islands.
Between 2005-2013 she taught lectures on mathematics, fluid mechanics, renewable energy and policy for MSc students, lab demonstrations (PV, Wind Turbines) for undergraduate; lectures for TMI module (2012-2015); co-run Energy Systems Modelling module (MScEDE) (2011-2014); delivered lectures part of UCL Engineering IEP yr1 Sustainable Energy Challenge (2014-2015);  lead and taught the module Communication Skills (MRes EDS) (2015-2019).
She supervises various MSc, Mres and PhD students. Some of them took the models she developed and extend/apply them in their research. For example, DEAM algorithms were included in the PhD model SpDEAM of Ed Sharp which calculates hourly loads at a spatial resolution of 0.5degrees Latitude/Longitude; IDA3 used by Theo Semertzidis in his PhD to run various future scenarios for water-energy nexus in Brazil; ISLA is used for modelling energy demand for Greek and Turkish islands by Eleni Zafeiratou and Mustafa Saglam. 


Catalina is a Professor in Global Energy and Resources and the Head of Islands Laboratory. She received several awards and fellowships during studies (e.g Socrates-Erasmus) and for excellent research (e.g Award Trevithick from Institution of Civil Engineers) (see achievements). She was invited as a visitor research fellow at MIT, USA (2014) and a visiting professor at Nuertingen-Geislingen University Germany (2017). She delivered talks and lectures in professional circles (e.g. Cheltenham Science Festival UK, European Business Summit Brussels, UN Environmental Management Group Nexus Dialogues Series), universities (e.g Princeton University, Stanford University, MIT), at conferences (e.g IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference). She organised public engagement events in collaboration with New Economics Foundation and funded by Royal Academy of Engineering. She regularly engaged with media being interviewed (e.g BBC) or cited (e.g Sunday Telegraph)She has been part of advisory board for conferences (e.g Nexus 2018: Water, food, energy and climate); regularly act as expert review panel for the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development Brazil, National Research Agency France, Franco-German panels, expert reviewer for Innovate UK, examiner for Phd students (Sweden, Finland, UK). She was member of the WEC Scenarios Study Group. She made contribution to international reports, e.g. World Energy Council Scenarios Composing Energy futures to 2050; Global Systems Science Orientation paper part of EU-FET consultation process.