SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Research Themes

Our central research interests are in the prospects for a more sustainable energy future.The group's expertise is inter-disciplinary and covers a wide range of areas.

Research Themes

Energy innovation and transitions

solar panels

Fostering the transition towards sustainable energy systems is central to addressing climate change and other pressing societal issues. We examine technical, social and political aspects of change processes in multiple sectors. By engaging with policymakers, industry and civil society across the globe, we aim to open up pathways to inclusive and sustainable energy futures.


Economics and finance

graph with hand

Economics and finance are central to the challenge of the low carbon transition. We draw upon mainstream and alternative economic perspectives to better understand the complex relationships between energy, finance, innovation and economic growth. Our projects are problem-oriented and applied, and engage with a range of contemporary UK and international policy debates.


Energy justice

Radiator with hand in glove

We investigate both the process and outcome of energy policies and transitions through a justice lens. This includes questions of vulnerability and fuel poverty in Europe; corruption and violence against marginalized groups in Africa and Asia; and global issues of energy and human rights. We also explore how energy innovations can create new possibilities for improving equity and well-being.


Energy demand and behaviour

picture of an electricity meter

Significant changes in energy demand will be necessary to meet the challenges of climate change and sustainability. Energy demand research often focuses on incremental behaviour change or technological fixes. Our research goes beyond this, considering how people use and interact with technology, how organisations effect change and how policies can encourage this change.


Smart infrastructure

train station with people rushing in and out

Capital-intensive infrastructures – such as electricity grids, pipelines, rail networks, roads, electric charging points, buildings, and ICT – are key to delivering energy services. We investigate the governance challenges resulting from the increasing interconnectedness of such infrastructures, and how investment in smarter, low carbon infrastructures can be accelerated.



Energy supply technologies

Nuclear power plant

We study the economics, social acceptance and broader sociotechnical implications of different energy supply options. We conduct policy-relevant research on a range of technologies including nuclear, coal, gas and renewables. Our research examines issues related to the deployment of new technologies as well as the discontinuation of carbon-intensive technologies and the management of nuclear waste.