Event: Spatial Variation in Energy Use, Attitudes and Behaviours

This day-long event on Friday 7 February brought together researchers, policy makers, industry, the public sector and the third sector to share recent results on implications of the transition to smarter energy delivery and to synthesise the evidence base in support of appropriate public policies and commercial strategies. Nazmiye Balta-Ozkan from Policy Studies Institute at the University of Westminster hosted the event with Ben Anderson of the University of Southampton.

The move from today’s centralised, carbon-intensive model of generation, transmission and distribution grid to a decentralised low-carbon alternative is likely to increase the visibility of differences. These may be due to variation in infrastructure characteristics, availability of renewable resources as well as household and other demand profiles.

On the one hand, the transition to a system where the cost of providing an extra unit of energy is more reflective of actual costs should enable a better fit between consumers’ demand and tariffs that suit their lifestyles as well as more efficient use of infrastructure. On the other, this poses an important policy challenge: householders who are unable to take advantage of these changes due to financial, physical, socio-economic, educational, socio-structural, lifestyle or normative constraints may be disadvantaged.

While publicly available data on the spatial variation of existing energy demand has improved significantly in recent years (for example, DECC Sub-national Energy Consumption Statistics), the focus of analysis is still overwhelmingly at the national or regional level. However, spatial variation in energy use, attitudes and perceptions of low carbon technologies (electric vehicles, heat pumps etc.) and pro-environmental behaviours are likely to have significant implications for policy within and across countries.

In the absence of improved understanding, the spatial variation in consumers’ adoption and acceptance of the wide range of services that smart grid technologies can provide will be a significant unknown factor, undermining the realisation of many potential benefits. Understanding this spatial variation in uptake of, for example, management of energy consumption and demand via dynamic and differentiated tariffs and technologies such as local energy production is therefore crucial to assessing the socio-economic, infrastructural and energy and carbon implications.

Event agenda, report and presentations

Workshop report

Chair: Dr Ben Anderson, University of Southampton

Dr Milena Buchs, University of Southampton
Spatial analysis of energy use and wellbeing in England

Tom Watson, University of Westminster
Spatial Variation in the Public Acceptability of Low Carbon Technologies

Ian Preston, Centre for Sustainable Energy
Fuel Poverty in a Smart Energy System

Chair: Prof Jim Skea, Imperial College

Judith Ward, Sustainability First
The electricity demand-side and local energy: how does the electricity system treat ‘local’?

Dr Gareth Powells, Durham University
Prospecting for Flexibility? Socio-Technical Capital and Smart Electricity Demand Management
Presentation (with Harriet Bulkeley, Sandra Bell, Ellis Judson, Steve Lyon)

Nazmiye Balta-Ozkan, University of Westminster
Regional distribution of photovoltaic deployment in the UK and its determinants: a spatial econometric approach
Presentation (with Julide Yildirim and Peter Connor)

Katie Russell, Onzo
Domestic energy usage- one size fits none

Dr Ben Anderson, University of Southampton
Small Area Estimation as a tool for thinking about spatial variation in energy demand