ARU research supports the green energy revolution

Close up of solar panels reflecting a variety of colours

ARU research is playing a leading role in the transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy use in the UK and Europe.

A series of projects and partnerships are helping to inform both policy and practice, as part of work to tackle the climate emergency.

Director of the Research and Innovation Development Office, Dr Michael Millan, says, 'One of ARU’s most important areas of work is our Sustainable Futures theme, and our energy research is a critical part of that.

'We have great strength in depth in the area, and are delighted to be helping to influence the use of energy, and policy making in the field. And that’s not just in the east of England, but the whole of the UK, and Europe.'

ARU has been chosen to lead a prestigious project to help the European Commission understand and apply research looking at the opportunities and social implications of a move towards a low-carbon future.

Dr Millan says, 'Previously, research may have focused too much on the technology in the field and not enough on the people. Decarbonising our energy use will only be a success if people want to be a part of it, and we’re delighted to be part of that critical work.'

The new €1million Energy-SHIFTS project, is being led by Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute (GSI). 

It brings together four leading interdisciplinary research institutes at European universities with three highly-respected policy, industry and communications organisations.

Over 100 leading academics from across Europe will research topics such as renewables, smart consumption, energy efficiency and transport.

By targeting more than 10,000 energy users from all areas of society, the project aims to deliver social sciences and humanities insights to move towards a low carbon future. 

ARU’s Dr Rosie Robison says, 'Through ENERGY-SHIFTS, those working at the frontline of energy policy will be able to more easily access expertise from diverse and active communities working in energy-related social sciences and humanities across Europe, to support policy which better considers the social impacts of energy.'

Fellow project lead, ARU’s Dr Chris Foulds says, 'Energy-SHIFTS will provide insights on how citizens and different stakeholders interact with the energy system. In particular, we’ll ask: how will people, in whatever their role, influence or be influenced by the way that we will consume and supply energy in the future across Europe?'

Another initiative, the Eastern New Energy project, has a bold remit: to help understand and remove the barriers that individuals, organisations and businesses face in rapidly decarbonising their energy use.

It brings together academics from across ARU, including the faculties of Business and Law, and Science and Engineering.

The ARU team aims to bring expertise in technology change and innovation – with specific applications in construction, digital technology, electric vehicle uptake and sustainability to maximise the use of modern, low carbon methods of building.

Led by the University of East London alongside 21 delivery partners, which includes ARU, the £10.2m project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It started in 2020 and will last for three years.

Results gained from the East of England region will inform plans to remove similar barriers to decarbonisation across the UK.

ARU is also working to examine options for using renewable energy sources for low and net-zero carbon heating in rural parts of the East of England that are not connected to the gas grid. The work looks at this relationship from a land use perspective and critically analyses the complexity of the interactions.

It will provide evidence to support the Clean Growth Strategy and the UK government aspiration restated in the 25 Year Environment Plan to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.

The research is a partnership with the University of East Anglia, as part of a case study for the European Integrating RENewable energy and Ecosystem (IRENES) project.

'Through all our energy research, ARU has demonstrated it is very much working in the spirit of the times, and the move towards a low carbon future,' Dr Millan says. 'We are proud to make such an important contribution to tackling one of the most important issues facing our planet.'

See also