Integrating citizens into Europe's clean energy transition

SRI's Steve Hall and Mark Davis have secured three years of EU Horizon 2020 research funding to explore how energy “prosumerism” can help to build a more sustainable future.

Working as Co-Principal Investigators, the inter-disciplinary PROSEU project brings together a new consortia across eight countries via €3.1M of EU Horizon 2020 funding. The grant will enable Mark and Steve to bring €380k to the University and provide investment for a new research fellow post.

The rapidly falling costs of renewable energy technologies, along with advances in battery and other storage mechanisms is making local and city scale energy systems a realistic alternative to the centralised systems of the past. This means that energy systems across the EU need to incorporate millions of generators as opposed to a few thousand.

Interested in the role of cities and regions in delivering public infrastructures compatible with low carbon futures, Steve (School of Earth & Earth and Environment) explains: “As we diversify our energy system, we need new technologies for grid management and new ways for citizens to buy and sell energy. This has the dual benefit of opening up new avenues for clean energy in cities, but also reduces our dependence on imported energy”.

Meanwhile, Mark (Sociology and Social Policy) is leading a number of funded projects evaluating forms of alternative finance, from a sociological perspective: “The work Steve and I are to lead at Leeds will evaluate alternative business models and new forms of finance that have the potential to enhance the role of citizens in deciding where and how their money is invested. This is opposed to handing over that responsibility to traditional institutional investors and hoping they will create a sustainable social and economic future.”

A part of the EU’s energy transition policy programme, they hope that their research at Leeds will have a global influence by allowing the single European energy market to accommodate a diverse group of new energy stakeholders, and to act as a pathfinder example to other world markets for how to integrate citizens into the energy transition.

The project commences in March 2018 with a launch event at University of Lisbon (FCUL).