UCL Energy Institute


Industrial Energy Use from a Bottom-up Perspective

29 November 2016


Principal Investigator: Neil Strachan
Duration of the project: 24 months
Sponsor: NERC
Amount of the grant: £541,000 (UCL share is £50,000)

A hybrid top-down/bottom-up framework for industrial sector energy and carbon analysis

As has been identified in earlier research on the field, the industrial sector in the UK accounts for some 21% of total delivered energy and 29%of carbon emissions. There are large differences between sub-sectors in the end-use applications of energy. A great deal of diversity can be found throughout industry, especially in terms of products manufactured, process undertaken and technologies employed. They all play a role in determining energy use.

The overall aim of the project is to evaluate the energy improvement potential and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions via bottom-up case studies set within a UK industry-wide understanding. Earlier top-down, UKERC sponsored research at the University of Bath will be used to identify process combinations and the suitable level of sector aggregation that might yield the greatest improvement potential and the adequate level of representation respectively. Data obtained will be collated with the purpose of providing for the modelling needs of UK policy makers (e.g., the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), at DECC and the Environment Agency).

The consortium will aggregate the bottom-up results in the form of a ‘usable energy database’ that will be used to provide information in support of the industrial modelling needs of UK policy makers. The industrial sector of the UK MARKAL-TIMES model will be revamped, and the updated model will be used to estimate the industrial sector’s role in low UK CO2 budgets.

The project will then provide an indicative assessment of the potential for technological innovation in the various UK industrial subsectors, including the impact of fuel switching. Difficult sectors were investment could be targeted more effectively will be also identified.

The team consists of the University of Bath, the University of Oxford, the UCL Energy Institute and the Environment Agency.

Hybrid top-down/bottom-up modelling framework (click on the image to expand)

Priority subsector choice based on emissions level and improvement potential (click on the image to expand)


Under this agreement the team will provide:

  • A bottom-up assessment of the energy improvement potential and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in a range of important UK industrial sub-sectors, based on engineering or ‘lumped parameter’ approaches, and differentiating between ‘traded’ and non-traded sector emissions;
  • The settlement of the data in the context of an industry-wide, top-down evaluation of the overall improvement potential of UK industry in the near term [2015 – 2020], under UKERC I and related studies at Bath.
  • A revamped industrial sector of UK-MARKAL/TIMES model. The updated model will be run in order to estimate the industrial sector role in UK low CO2 budgets.
  • The disaggregated energy and CO2 implications of the studied sub-sectors;
  • An indicative assessment for UK policy makers of the potential for technological innovation in the various UK industrial subsectors out to 2050, including fuel switching (particularly to low carbon energy carriers, notably electricity) and including the identification of sectors or processes were investment could be targeted more effectively.
  • Relevant research publications include:
  • Dyer, C.H., G.P. Hammond and R.C. McKenna, 2008. ‘Engineering sustainability: energy efficiency, thermodynamic analysis and the industrial sector’, The Environmental Engineer (Journal of Sustainability and Environmental Engineering, Institution of Engineers, Australia), 9 (2) [Winter], 17-22
  • Strachan, N., et al., 2009. ‘Soft-linking energy systems and GIS models to investigate spatial hydrogen infrastructure development in a low-carbon UK energy system’, Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 34 (2): 642-657
  • Hammond, G.P., R.C. McKenna and J.B. Norman, 2009. ‘Thermodynamic analysis of the UK industrial sector’, In Proc. 5th European Conference on Economics and Management of Energy in Industry (ECEMEI-5), Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal, 14-17 April, 12pp.


This research will inform UK policy decision-makers and industrial manufacturers, on the role of UK industry in the low CO2 budgets. Consequently, International and European policy decision making is meant to be influenced by the outputs of this project. The dissemination of the results is planned through academic publications, seminars, summer schools (including the UKERC Summer School for young researchers) and specialist meetings.


The Industrial Energy Use from a Bottom-Up Perspective link to the UKERC project website: https://ukerc.rl.ac.uk/DC/cgi-bin/edc_search.pl/?WantComp=43

Further information about the energy models, used at the UCL Energy Institute: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/energy-models