We see places as active participants in the energy transition. Just as energy demand and carbon consumption is unevenly distributed across the economy, so the transition to zero carbon and lower energy demand futures will happen differently across our communities. The Place Theme focuses on the potential of a place-based lens to accelerate progress by designing place appropriate pathways grounded in the skills, culture, resources, technologies and services of those places.

EDRC Place theme icon

Developing place-based action on energy demand

We build a new approach to place-based approaches and policy making to provide actionable insights, tools and processes to speed up the Net Zero transition. Decision-making on climate and energy policy remains dominated by national scale actors. Whilst this keeps whole system impacts in view, it relegates place considerations to a variable which impacts policy success. Such an approach misreads the implementation challenge, risks reinforcing sectoral siloes and misses opportunities for integrated solutions across the economy, reinforcing regional inequalities. A place-based approach is essential to designing and delivering the decarbonisation and energy transformation that is now urgently required. Research suggests that adopting place-based decarbonisation approaches could deliver Net Zero goals at around a quarter of the cost of top-down approaches with half of the energy demand and greater co-benefits (PWC et al. 2022).

EDRC is the first UK-wide energy demand centre with a dedicated Place theme. Our work focuses on bringing together sectoral transformations (in industry, transport and buildings) in place to understand the extent to which different policy pathways are deliverable or at risk, given the variable combinations of topologies, communities, regions, skills, infrastructures, services and institutional change capacity that exist across places. Through a co-design process, we will work with local communities, local government, skills and delivery bodies, engineers and network planners to explore how to design and realise place-based energy demand strategies and interventions. Our work will be scaled up through communicative data science and the co-development of actionable solutions and toolkits to accelerate energy demand solutions in the Net Zero transition. The overarching research question is “How can place characteristics be used to accelerate the design and delivery of low energy demand futures?”

“The net zero transition will play out very differently across urban and rural areas and within our towns and cities. It is really exciting to be part of a research programme, founded on co-design, which sees place as an opportunity and a driver of the transition rather than a recipient of top-down policy.”