SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

SPRU to lead new £2m research programme on Digital Society and Energy Demand

SPRU will lead a new 5-year research programme on “Digital Society and Energy Demand” as part of a new research centre that was officially announced on Monday 26 March by two research councils: the ESRC and EPSRC.

The UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand (UKCRED) explores the drivers of energy demand from a systematic, socio-technical perspective. Funded by the UK Research Councils, the Centre brings together over 40 academics from 13 institutions. The centre will adopt a multi-disciplinary “whole systems” approach that seeks to understand the social, technological and economic aspects of reducing energy demand in the transition to a low carbon energy system. UKCRED is led by the RCUK Energy Demand Research Champion, Professor Nick Eyre, at the University of Oxford.

The programme of research at SPRU, led by Professors Tim Foxon and Steven Sorrell, will examine the contribution of digital technologies to reducing energy demand. The research will be based around three overarching questions:

  • What are the historical and potential future impacts of Information Communication Technologies  (ICTs) on sectoral and economy-wide energy consumption?

  • What factors and mechanisms explain those impacts?

  • How can the future energy-saving potential of ICTs be maximised?

Other partners in the Digital Society theme include the University of Manchester, the University of Surrey, the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics.

The Digital Society theme will build on research carried out at Sussex through the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED), in particular, projects on smart meters and energy productivity.

Professor Steven Sorrell said of the new partnership: “Reducing energy demand is critical for a low carbon future. We are very pleased that SPRU is playing a key role in this important new research initiative.”

Prof. Tim Foxon commented: “Work at Sussex as part of the new Centre will examine the impact of new digital technologies and business models on future energy demand, which have the potential to be an important part of a transition to low carbon energy systems.” 

PhD studentships

As part of this programme of work, SPRU is offering two 3-year PhD studentships.  These two studentships will explore the potential contribution of digital technologies to reducing energy demand and assisting the transition to secure, low carbon energy systems. For more information, please  visit the application page.

Please note that the deadline for applications is 12th April.