UK Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC): PROGRAMME GRANT: Long term dynamics of interdependent infrastructure systems

Primary Investigator: Jim Hall (University of Oxford)

Co-Investigator: Prof. Mark Birkin (University of Leeds)

Overview: National infrastructure (NI) systems (energy, transport, water, waste and ICT) in the UK and in advanced economies globally face serious challenges. The 2009 Council for Science and Technology (CST) report on NI in the UK identified significant vulnerabilities, capacity limitations and a number of NI components nearing the end of their useful life. It also highlighted serious fragmentation in the arrangements for infrastructure provision in the UK. There is an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions from infrastructure, to respond to future demographic, social and lifestyle changes and to build resilience to intensifying impacts of climate change.  The aim of the UK Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium is to develop and demonstrate a new generation of system simulation models and tools to inform analysis, planning and design of NI.

The research will deal with energy, transport, water, waste and ICT systems at a national scale, developing new methods for analysing their performance, risks and interdependencies. It will provide a virtual environment in which we will test strategies for long-term investment in NI and understand how alternative strategies perform with respect to policy constraints such as reliability and security of supply, cost, carbon emissions, and adaptability to demographic and climate change. The research programme is structured around four major challenges:

  1. How can infrastructure capacity and demand be balanced in an uncertain future?
  2. What are the risks of infrastructure failure and how can we adapt NI to make it more resilient? 
  3. How do infrastructure systems evolve and interact with society and the economy?
  4. What should the UK's strategy be for the integrated provision of NI in the long term?

Working with a remarkable group of project partners in government and industry, we will use our new methods to develop and test alternative strategies for Britain's NI, building an evidence-based case for a transition to sustainability. Our ambition is that through the development of a new generation of tools, in concert with our government and industry partners, we will enable a revolution in the strategic analysis of NI provision in the UK, whilst at the same time becoming an international landmark programme recognised for novelty, research excellence and impact.

Grant Reference: EP/I01344X/1