Nottingham Business School to lead major European project to tackle energy poverty

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A Europe-wide project to study and support cities and communities in their goal to produce more energy than they use is to be led by Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University.

The €4m scheme will see 15 PhD researchers recruited to work across the continent, exploring Positive Energy Districts (PEDs) from different perspectives and in different localities.

PEDs aim to tackle energy poverty and injustice by generating local, decentralised, innovative energy ecosystems, placing consumers at the centre.

‘Human-Centric Energy Districts: Smart Value Generation by Building Efficiency and Energy Justice for Sustainable Living’ is funded by Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Currie Actions. It complements the EU’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan which aims to establish “100 positive energy districts by 2025 (baseline 2015) and 80% of electricity consumption to be managed by consumers in 4 out of 5 households.”

Evidence from the research will be used to create tools, systems and policies that can be used by cities and councils to transition into PEDs across Europe.

The researchers and their host universities will work with local partners, including private organisations and policy makers, to implement the findings. In Nottingham, NBS will partner with different stakeholders to examine multiple angles and challenges.

In collaboration with Nottingham City Council and energy efficiency experts, such as GreenVision Energy Ltd, the Independent Transport Commission and the Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies (CENEX), NBS will identify how to use innovative business models to efficiently integrate new technologies into the existing infrastructure of the city and the region.

NBS will also collaborate with the National Energy Action Charity to proactively engage communities and citizens to ensure that the new energy system includes everyone and becomes an essential pillar for contributing to the decarbonisation of our economies without leaving large parts of the population behind.

The project is being coordinated by Dr Kostas Galanakis from NBS, with a team of co-investigators from the School’s Human Resource Management and Economics departments.

Dr Galanakis said: “A centralised system of energy creation is not working for large parts of the population who are experiencing fuel poverty and it is not environmentally sustainable. This project will consider policy, technology and the needs of society and citizens to explore how we can transition to local, carbon neutral systems of energy production which meet the needs of all energy consumers.”

Wayne Bexton, head of Energy Services at Nottingham City Council, said: “Horizon 2020 has enabled accelerated research within energy innovation across Nottingham. In conjunction with Nottingham Trent University, we have already piloted a variety of new low carbon technologies, which we hope will become commonplace as we move to a carbon neutral future.

“We now look forward to the latest programme helping identify the tools, systems and policies that allow us and other cities to meet carbon neutral aspirations in a just manner through creating citizen focussed positive energy districts.”

Co-investigator and Principal Lecturer in Human Resource Management and PhD Programme Leader at NBS, Dr Néstor Valero-Silva, said: “We are bringing together a national and international community of researchers, and other relevant stakeholders, to identify how we can generate a shared vision, with actions that have a real impact on energy production and consumption, using a systems thinking approach.”

The PhD researchers will be selected at a recruitment event at Nottingham Trent University in July, where host University partners from across Europe will also be in attendance. This project will inform future developments in the NBS PhD programme.