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Energy from Microgeneration: Sustainability and Perceptions in the UK


PhD Project Details

Project Leader: Professor Adisa Azapagic

Project Duration: September 2010 - September 2014.

Project Overview

Microgeneration technologies are small scale producers of heat and/or electricity from a low carbon source, such as solar panels, wind turbines and ground source heat pumps. These technologies are suitable for use in residences and commercial/community buildings.

The low carbon nature of microgeneration implies that they can make a contribution to UK climate change targets. Additionally microgeneration may rely less heavily on fossil fuels, which implies a potential contribution to improving energy security. However, the impacts associated with microgeneration, including greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel usage, vary significantly both across different technologies and also within each technology set (e.g. impacts change with different energy capacities and local environmental conditions). Microgeneration may have the potential to contribute to UK climate change, energy security and fuel poverty targets but this contribution is far from guaranteed due to these impact variations. Furthermore, while they may reduce carbon emissions, microgeneration technologies generate other environmental impacts such as acidification, eutrophication, ozone layer depletion and eco-toxicity.

The main research question in this work is: Can, and should, microgeneration contribute to meeting UK climate change, energy security and fuel poverty targets and, if so, how can greater uptake be achieved? The research is framed into three sub-questions:

  • What is the potential contribution of microgeneration to UK climate change, energy security and fuel poverty targets and what are the associated environmental, economic and social impacts?
  • How do UK public perceptions of microgeneration affect uptake and where does the greatest potential lie in increasing uptake and maximising the benefits of microgeneration?

The research aims to provide further insight to the interactions between technological (e.g. energy generation efficiencies), environmental (e.g. global warming potential impact), social (e.g. energy behaviour change, disruption to household) and political (e.g. cost of microgeneration support) aspects of microgeneration. A number of methodologies and tools will be used for these purposes, including life cycle assessment (LCA), MaxDiff scaling and choice experiments.

For More Information

The primary contact for this project is Dr Paul Balcombe.

All group members involved in this project: