To meet the Paris Agreement’s goals, we need the global transition to clean power to be at least four times faster than it is at present.
Accelerating the global renewable energy revolution
In 2015, countries adopted the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the central goal of which is to limit the rise in global average temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. We will only achieve this goal by substantially and rapidly reducing use of fossil fuels. We hope this report will encourage investors, businesses and governments to accelerate action in favour of our planet, and power us towards a sustainable future for all.
While there is much to be positive about, it is also evident that we need to continue to push the acceleration of the global renewable energy revolution. In 2017, just 12.1% of global power came from clean sources, 1.1% more than in 2016. Climate change is moving faster than we are. Last year was the second hottest on record and carbon dioxide levels continue to rise. In electricity generation, new renewables still have a long way to go. While renewable generating costs have declined, and governments are phasing-out fossil fuel subsidies– they amounted to a total US$260 billion in 2016 -- the transition needs to accelerate and be complemented by strong private finance that can make sure this global momentum continues.
Brexit & Beyond: UK Zero Carbon Energy Policy, Department of Politics and International Studies
The UK has committed to reducing emissions to net zero by 2050, which infers high degrees of energy policy change, and some quite fundamental changes in how society functions, the types of energy we produce and use, and how energy is managed and consumed. UK energy policymakers must now make decarbonisation decisions within a new political context: Brexit. This adds a further layer of complexity, and indeed uncertainty, given its wide-ranging scope, and associated potential political, economic and trade implications.
Dr Caroline Kuzemko is the Principal Investigator of 'Brexit & Beyond: UK Zero Carbon Energy Policy', which is one of the two projects of the UK Energy Research Centre's theme 1: UK Energy in a Global Context.
This project, which is being delivered jointly by Chatham House and the University of Warwick, seeks to unravel and explore Brexit so that we can better understand it, what it means for energy policy and politics. This is done across four main work packages:
- Combine conceptual insights from (IPE, climate change, and energy policy) scholarship in order to frame Brexit and how it relates to zero carbon energy policy;
- Map the immediate implications of de-integration from the EU for current UK energy policy, and for net zero energy policy based on documented analysis and stakeholder engagement;
- Analyse how UK energy policy is being re-oriented, as a result of Brexit, in the medium term (2020-2022) in three strategic areas: carbon and emissions trading; gas and electricity trade and interconnection between the UK and European markets; and demand management;
- Application of scenario planning methods to explore different longer-term trajectories (2023-2030) for the UK’s net zero energy policies, as the UK re-configures itself domestically and globally.
By understanding Brexit, and its implications across the different temporal stages, the project will highlight additional, relevant barriers and opportunities for the UK as it strives to fully decarbonise energy and what these mean for meeting zero carbon targets.
Low Temperature Heat Recovery and Distribution Network Technologies (LoT-NET), School of Engineering
The LoT-NET project is investigating how waste heat can be recovered, used and incorporated in smart, thermal and electrical energy systems. Heating and cooling produces more than one third of the UK's CO2 emissions and represents about 50% of overall energy demand. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has concluded that heat networks could supply up to 20% of building heat demand by 2050.
LoT-NET aims to provide a cost-effective near-zero emissions solution for heating and cooling that realises the huge potential of waste heat and renewable energies by utilising a combination of a low-cost low-loss flexible heat distribution network together with novel input, output and storage technologies.
Lot-NET considers how waste heat streams from industrial or other sources feeding into low temperature heat networks can combine with optimal heat pump and thermal storage technologies to meet the heating and cooling needs of UK buildings and industrial processes. Heat networks have previously used high temperature hot water to serve buildings and processes but now 4th generation networks seek to use much lower temperatures to make more sources available and reduce losses. Lot-NET is going further by integrating low temperature (LT) networks with heat pump technologies and thermal storage to maximise waste and ambient heat utilisation.
Heat source availability is often time dependant. Lot-NET will overcome the challenges of time variation and how to apply smart control and implementation strategies. Thermal storage will be incorporated to reduce the peak loads on electricity networks. The wider use of LT heat networks will require appropriate regulation to support both businesses and customers and Lot-NET will both need to inform and be aware of such regulatory changes. The barrier of initial financial investment is supported by BEIS HNIP but the commercial aspects are still crucial to implementation.
Project partners: 3D Technical Design Ltd Asda Causeway Coast & Glens, Dept for Bus, Energy & Ind Strat (BEIS), Emerson Climate Technologies GmbH, FutureBay, Greater London Authority (GLA), Islington Council, London Underground Ltd, REHAU Ltd, Spirax sarco, SWEP International
Fuel - the resources of fiction, Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies
Professor Graeme Macdonald from the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies researches resource culture in world literature, energy humanities and petrofiction and the environmental humanities. In a 2017 book by Imre Szeman and Patricia Yaeger, "Fueling Culture. 101 Words for Energy and Environment" he wrote a chapter entitled "Fuel - the resources of fiction". Professor Macdonald asks some key questions about our relationship to energy.
How has our relation to energy changed over time? What differences do particular energy sources make to human values, politics, and imagination? How have transitions from one energy source to another—from wood to coal, or from oil to solar to whatever comes next—transformed culture and society? What are the implications of uneven access to energy in the past, present, and future? Which concepts and theories clarify our relation to energy, and which just get in the way? Fueling Culture offers a compendium of keywords written by scholars and practitioners from around the world and across the humanities and social sciences. These keywords offer new ways of thinking about energy as both the source and the limit of how we inhabit culture, with the aim of opening up new ways of understanding the seemingly irresolvable contradictions of dependence upon unsustainable energy forms.
New biocatalysts for generation of renewable chemicals from biomass, Department of Chemistry
The conversion of polymeric lignin from plant biomass into renewable chemicals is an important unsolved problem in the biorefinery concept.
The lignocellulose content of plant biomass represents a major source of renewable carbon that could be used:
- to produce bio-ethanol via conversion to glucose and fermentation
- to produce chemical feedstocks for commercial use
The work of Professor Tim Bugg and his team at Warwick’s Chemistry department has led to a number of projects to evaluate the industrial potential of lignin decomposition and production of added value chemicals and polymers.
You can hear more from Professor Bugg in the following video.
Key UN Sustainable Development Goals in this theme are:
Warwick Business School
Prof. Bradshaw's research on the geopolitical economy of global energy has examined the role of foreign investment in Russia's oil and gas industry (with a focus on Sakhalin); global energy dilemmas and the interrelationship between energy security climate change and economic globalization; and the challenges to the UK's gas security. He is the academic lead for the University's Global Research Priority on Energy. He is the author of Global Energy Dilemmas (2014), co-editor of Global Energy: Issues, Potentials and Policy Implications (2015), and co-author of Energy and Society: A Critical Perspective (2018) and Natural Gas (2020, Polity Press). He is currently involved in a 5-year programme of research on the UK's energy transition in global context for the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC 4) and is monitoring and assessing the UK shale gas landscape as part of a 4-year NERC/ESRC research programme on Unconventional Hydrocarbons in the UK Energy System.
Department of Chemistry
Professor Bugg's research group is studying the microbial conversion of biopolymer lignin, found in plant biomass, into renewable chemicals. Research interests involve the discovery of novel bacterial enzymes for lignin degradation and metabolic engineering of bacterial lignin degraders to produce target bio products.
· BBSRC-FAPESP “Lignin valorization in lignocellulosic bioethanol plants: biocatalytic conversion via ferulic acid to high value chemicals” BB/P01738X/1. Feb 2017 – Feb 2022.
· RA CoBiotech “Microbial conversion of lignin to monomers for bio-based plastics using synthetic biology (MILIMO)” BBSRC grant reference BB/T010622/1. April 2020 – March 2023
· “Bacterial enzymes for lignin depolymerisation: new biocatalysts for generation of renewable chemicals from biomass” T.D.H. Bugg, J.J. Williamson, G.M.M. Rashid, Curr. Opin. Chem. Biol., 55, 26-33 (2020).
· “Sphingobacterium sp. T2 manganese superoxide dismutase catalyses the oxidative demethylation of polymeric lignin via generation of hydroxyl radical” G.M.M. Rashid, X. Zhang, R.C. Wilkinson, V. Fülöp, B. Cottyn, S. Baumberger, and T.D.H. Bugg, ACS Chem. Biol., 13, 2920-2929 (2018)
· “Structural and functional characterisation of a multi-copper oxidase CueO from lignin-degrading bacterium Ochrobactrum sp. reveal its activity towards lignin model compounds and lignosulfonate” R.S. Granja-Travez, R.C. Wilkinson, G.F. Persinoti, F.M. Squina, V. Fülöp, and T.D.H. Bugg, FEBS Journal, 285, 1684-1700 (2018).
· “Biocatalytic conversion of lignin to aromatic dicarboxylic acids in Rhodococcus jostii RHA1 by re-routing aromatic degradation pathways” Z. Mycroft, M. Gomis, P. Mines, P. Law & T.D.H. Bugg, Green Chemistry, 17, 4974-4979 (2015)
Department of Chemistry
(UKRI) funded research projects regarding the politics of sustainable energy transformations:
They are very recent projects, so there are no publications yet (just Policy Briefing Papers, and blogs)
Kuzemko, C.; Bradshaw, M.; Bridge, G.; Goldthau, A.; Jewell, J.; Overland, I.; Scholten, D.; Van de Graaf, T.; Westphal, K. (2020) ‘Covid-19 and the politics of sustainable energy transitions’, Energy Research & Social Science 68
Kuzemko, C.; Britton, J. (2020) ‘Policy, politics and materiality across scales: A framework for understanding local government sustainable energy capacity applied in England’, Energy Research and Social Science 62
Kuzemko, C. (2019) ‘Re-scaling IPE: Local government, sustainable energy & change’, Review of International Political Economy, 26:1, 80-104.
Kuzemko, C.; Lawrence, A.; Watson, M. (2019) ‘New Directions in the International Political Economy of Energy’, Review of International Political Economy, 26:1, 1-25
Political Economy of Sustainable Energy Transitions Sustainable Energy Policy (UK and EU) Climate Change Policy (UK) iv) I teach two relevant modules (3rd year) PO3A4 The Global Energy Challenge PO3A5 The Politics of Climate Change (which covers energy and transport transitions)
School of Engineering
Prof Wang’s research interests include: power system analysis and optimisation, energy storage and grid integration, multi-vector local energy systems
Prof Wang also teaches Power Electronics module for Year 3 and MSc students. Power electronics is underpinning technology for connecting and usage of power generation from renewable energy sources.
Recent research projects:
- West Midlands Regional Energy System Operator (RESO), (Innovate UK, 2020 - 2022)
- Supergen Storage Network Plus 2019, (EPSRC 2019 – 2023)
- Self-Powered Active Cooling and Cleaning for Solar PV Efficiency Improvement (EPSRC, 2019 – 2021)
- Joint UK-India Clean Energy centre (JUICE) (EPSRC, 2016 – 2021)
- Li, D.C., Guo, S.S., He, W., King, M., Wang, J., Combined capacity and operation optimisation of lithium-ion battery energy storage working with a combined heat and power system, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Jan 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2021.110731.
- King, M., Jain, A., Bhakar, R., Mathur, J., Wang, J., Overview of current Compressed Air Energy Storage projects and analysis of the potential underground storage capacity in India and the UK, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Jan 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2021.110705
- He, W, Dooner, M., King, M., Li, D.C., Guo, S.S., Wang, J., Techno-economic analysis of bulk-scale compressed air energy storage in power system decarbonisation, Applied Energy , 282: 116097 5, 2021.