The first-ever national observatory on public engagement in energy and low carbon transitions has been established at the University of East Anglia (UEA).
The initiative is part of £22m allocated to UK institutions to undertake research on the decarbonisation of key sectors such as industry, transport and heat, and explore the role of local, national and global changes in energy systems.
The funding for the fourth phase of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) and will enable engineers, social scientists and natural scientists to conduct vital research on global energy challenges and their implications for the UK, as it works towards achieving its net-zero target.
The observatory will monitor the many different ways that citizens are engaging with energy transitions on an ongoing basis, ranging from everyday consumption, citizens’ assemblies and social media through to protests and community action.
UKERC will also host and curate energy data, map and monitor public engagement, carry out systematic evidence reviews and improve the transparency and understanding of energy models.
Prof Jason Chilvers, who will head the new observatory, said: ‘The observatory will translate this evidence to improve how society is being engaged and how public views and actions are accounted for in addressing urgent problems of energy and climate change.’
UKERC chief executive, Prof Sir Mark Walport, said: ‘Moving the UK to a sustainable, resilient energy system that delivers on our net-zero ambitions requires collaboration, better data and expertise across the research and innovation ecosystem.
‘UKERC plays an important role in supporting this transition, delivering world-class research, facilitating national and international collaboration and generating evidence that informs real-world decisions.’