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Renewable Heat Event

by on July 6, 2017

Last month we hosted our final event of the project – ‘Understanding domestic micro-renewables: installation and use of heating technologies‘. The purpose was to bring together leading policy makers, practitioners and academics working in the area of domestic renewables for heat to discuss new research and consider where we might go next. We had around 40 participants from a range of different institutions and backgrounds making for some interesting discussions, and speakers included (see their biographies at the end):

Prof. Janette Webb

University of Edinburgh

‘Making UK Heat and Energy Efficiency Policy: the UK Committee on Climate Change and its Advisory Group’
Anthony Kyriakides

Scottish Renewables

‘Current home renewables support for Scottish householders’
Dr Richard Snape

De Montfort University

‘Uptake of domestic renewable energy incentives, the RHI and implications for domestic or community energy and heat’
Dr Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs

University of St Andrews

‘The limitations of current energy saving advice: a need to engage with visions of desirable home life.’
Dr Louise Reid

University of St Andrews

‘Domestic renewable (heat) experiences: the importance of everyday life’
Dr Tom Hargreaves

University of East Anglia

‘Learning to live in a smart home’

Full paper:

There was some live tweeting which was ongoing during the event, much of which was captured on our twitter feed but if you want to know more, search for #renewableheat.

All recognised the necessity for greater attention on renewable heat, reflecting that it had been the poor relation to electricity. For instance, the generation of electricity from renewables (20% globally in 2014) in comparison to heat (4% globally in 2014) was often alluded to (Kastner & Matthies 2016). Moreover, there was a high degree of consensus that technological or economic solutions did not reflect the complexity of everyday domestic life (Gram-Hanssen et al., 2017, Hecher et al, 2017, Michelsen & Madlener 2016), as discussed by Tom, Katherine and Louise. There was therefore recognition that the variability in uptake rates  suggests that the local and or social context within which such decisions are made is critical (Heiskanen & Matschoss 2017). Indeed, Richard’s presentation on RHI uptake rates was of interest as he suggested we will not meet the required targets set out by the Westminster government.

We also explored the politics within institutions and how these were ever-present, even if not explicit. Jan in particular encouraged us to consider the everyday as well as institutional politics that shape energy demand, and energy policies. This was brought into focus by Anthony with his presentation about the Scottish context and what the Energy Savings Trust was doing to promote renewable heat installations in households.

So, a huge thank you to all of those who presented and came along. And thanks too to our colleague Dr Joe Crawford for his help with chairing sessions.

Speaker biographies:

Professor Janette Webb, University of Edinburgh

My research concerns social studies of energy and climate change. In collaboration with the EPSRC Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, our research group is studying comparative European heat and energy efficiency policies and practices. Recent Heat and the City research focused on urban energy governance and organisation in globalising markets. Further work is analysing local engagement in energy developments (funding from Energy Technologies Institute and UK Energy Research Centre) and evaluating the Scottish Energy Efficiency Pilots (funding from Scottish ClimateXChange). Our research is used in 2017 Scottish Government Energy Strategy Consultations and 2013 UK Government Heat Strategy. I also work with Informatics engineers on living labs and social interactions with digital systems for energy feedback.

I am a member of Scottish Government Fuel Poverty Review Panel and Expert Commission on District Heating and Regulation; UK Government BEIS Steering Group on Heat Networks and Consumer Protection Research; UK Nominated Expert to the International Energy Agency Programme on District Heating and Cooling; Chair of the 2016 Advisory Group on Heat and Energy Efficiency, UK Committee on Climate Change, and Trustee of environmental charity, SNIFFER.

Anthony Kyriakides, Scottish Renewables

Anthony has led the Energy Saving Trust’s domestic renewables work, funded by the Scottish Government, since 2008.  He has a particular focus on delivering a programme of independent, impartial specialist renewables advice, information and financial support to help Scottish householders identify and install appropriate systems. Anthony works closely with government, the renewables supply chain and various other organisations involved in the renewables sector.

Since graduating from Imperial College, London with an MSc. in Environmental Technology, Anthony has focused his career in the environmental sector.  He delivered low carbon and low emission transport projects to the private, public and commercial sectors whilst at the Energy Saving Trust in London. He then moved to Scotland to work at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) where he was involved in the implementation of the Water Framework Directive.

Dr Louise Reid, University of St Andrews

I am a social scientist interested in what and why people do what they do, and the impact of these activities on the environment. As a human geographer, I explore how these activities are organised across time and space with a focus on the everyday domestic setting. Currently I’m based at the University of St Andrews in the Department of Geography and Sustainable Development where I am deputy director of the Centre for Housing Research (CHR). Recent research has focused on the everyday experience of living with domestic renewable heating technologies exploring concepts such as energy prosumption. I also have interests in the theorisation of well-being.

I moved to St Andrews from the University of Aberdeen in 2010, initially taking up a research fellowship with CHR, before moving into a Lectureship in 2011. I completed my PhD in 2010 and also have an MSc in Sustainable Rural Development (2004) and an MA (Hons) in Environmental Geography (2003).

Dr Tom Hargreaves, University of East Anglia

I am a Lecturer in Environmental Social Science at the University of East Anglia. My research focuses on how innovations to promote sustainability impact upon people’s everyday lives. Within this broad focus I am particularly interested in the inter-relationships between: the dynamics and evolution of social practices, how technologies are adopted and used in everyday life, and the effects of attempts to govern everyday life to try and steer it in more sustainable directions. To date, my work has explored a range of energy-related issues including: transitions to a low-carbon energy economy; the impacts of energy feedback and smart meters on everyday life; community energy projects as forms of socio-technical innovation; and the domestication of innovative ‘smart home’ technologies.

Dr. Richard Snape, De Montford University

Richard is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute for Energy and Sustainable Development, De Montfort University with research interests adoption of sustainable technology/practices, smart grid operation (particularly in community energy), and agent based modelling (ABM). Whilst completing his PhD entitled “Incorporating human behaviour in an agent based model of technology adoption in the transition to a smart grid”, he also worked as a Research assistant on the CASCADE project and subsequently as Research Fellow on the AMEN project. He has a keen interest in the dynamics of community energy schemes and led computational modelling research on the CEGADS project.  He was part of the team that won the Nesta Dynamic Demand Challenge.  In 2016/17 he was engaged by commercial partners to provide consultancy regarding smart signal generation for community energy schemes. Snape’s background is in electrical and information science (MEng) as well as a period in industry (2002-2010) working as a software developer and latterly senior manager in railway infrastructure maintenance.

Dr Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs, University of St Andrews

Katherine’s research centres on sustainable consumption and theories of change, focusing on everyday life, domestic energy, and higher education institutions. Her interest is in exploring how expectations of everyday (home) life evolve and become increasingly resource intensive. How can we steer these practices to be more sustainable? How do low-carbon technologies ‘fit’ into normal rhythms and systems? How does the understanding of home comfort differ temporally and spatially?

Katherine has an undergraduate degree and PhD in Sustainable Development, both from the University of St Andrews. Previously she worked as a Research Fellow for the Centre of Housing Research at the University of St Andrews and as Research Facilitator for Transition University of St Andrews.


Gram-Hanssen, K., Heidenstrom, N., Vitterso, G., Madsen, L., Jacobsen, H (2017) Selling and installing heat pumps: influencing household practices, Building Research & Information, 45(4): 359-370.

Hercher, M., Hatzl, S., Knoeri, C., Posch, A (2017) The trigger matters: The decision-making process for heating systems in the residential building sector, Energy Policy 102:288-306.

Heiskanen, E., and Matschoss, K (2017) Understanding the uneven diffusion of building-scale renewable energy systems: A review of household, local and country level factors in diverse European countries, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 75:580-591.

Kastner, I., and Matthies, E (2016) Investments in renewable energies by German households:matter of economics, social influences and ecological concern? Energy Research & Social Science, 17:1-9.

Michelsen, C., and Madlener, R (2016) Switching from fossil fuel to renewables in residential heating systems: An empirical study of homeowners’ decisions in Germany, Energy Policy, 89:95-105.


From → Conferences

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