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[Episode #225] – Demand Side Solutions

Energy transition is often depicted as a choice between different supply-side technologies such as wind or solar versus oil and coal. However, the demand side of the energy transition — focusing on efficiency improvements to buildings, adopting walking and biking over driving, and electrifying consumer appliances — deserves just as much attention.

Would you believe that widespread adoption of demand-side measures like these could cut the UK’s energy demand in half without sacrificing services or quality of life? That’s one of the key insights our guest in this episode has to share.

Nick Eyre is one of the most well-informed experts on the demand side of the energy transition. He is Professor of Energy and Climate Policy, and Senior Research Fellow in Energy, at the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University in England. He serves as the Director of the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions, which is UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI's) primary investment in energy use research. He is also a Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy, which is undertaking research on the combined, technical, economic, social and policy issues in moving to electricity systems with very high levels of variable renewables.

For the past five years, Nick has led a comprehensive project involving hundreds of researchers to review nearly 500 publications on the demand side of energy. This project concluded at the end of 2023, and he joins us today to share its key insights. He’ll help us understand the most important demand-side decarbonization strategies in 2024, and what we can do to accelerate their deployment. It’s a really comprehensive, yet very accessible (and not too geeky) discussion that offers at least a few practical insights that all of our listeners could readily consider applying in their own lives.

Guest:

Nick Eyre is Professor of Energy and Climate Policy, and Senior Research Fellow in Energy, at the Environmental Change Institute. He is Director of the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions, which is UKRI’s main investment into research on energy use. He is also a Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy, which is undertaking research on the combined, technical, economic, social and policy issues in moving to electricity systems with very high levels of variable renewables.

Professor Eyre acts as scientific advisor on climate change to Oxford City Council. He is interested in the role of public policy in reducing energy demand and carbon emissions, and the transition to zero carbon energy systems. This includes the integration of renewable energy into energy systems, energy market reform, policy instruments for energy efficiency and the role of local government and communities.

Professor Eyre was one of the UK’s first researchers on mitigation of carbon emissions, and was co-author of a presentation to the Cabinet on this issue in 1989. In 1997, he wrote the first published study on how the Government’s 20% carbon emission reduction target might be delivered. He has advised successive governments and a wide range of Parliamentary inquiries. He managed a large European Commission programme on the external costs of energy and was lead author of the report used as the basis for the UK Government’s first estimate of the social cost of carbon. From 1999 to 2007 he was Head of Policy and then Directory of Strategy at the Energy Saving Trust.

On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-eyre-96951a33

On the Web:  Nick’s faculty page at Oxford

Recording date: April 8, 2024

Air date: May 29, 2024

Geek rating: 3