On Friday the EPSRC visited UCL Energy to host a workshop discussing future directions for Energy research funding. About 50 delegates from across
UCL attended the day which included seminars, interactive workshops and plenty of time for lively discussion and debate. Energy research accounts for 23% of the EPSRCs funding portfolio, and is the largest industrial sector directly supported by EPSRC.
Jason Green, Head of Energy at EPSRC, introduced the morning session, focusing on our need to make a case for energy research that is not just all about CO2 emission reductions, but that addresses the ‘energy trilemma’ of:
- GHG emissions
- Security of supply
- Reducing costs
It was great to hear that there is a strong interest in expanding UK energy research capacity, and that there are opportunities to develop more international work in the area. This was followed by an introduction to the UCL Energy Institute’s energy research by BSEER Director Professor Tadj Oreszczyn.
Next, we formed small break-out groups to discuss the question ‘what research areas would you protect, reduce or grow?’ This was a challenging task as, unsurprisingly, everyone believes their own research area should be protected or grown! However, we were forced to think about how we would defend our work in the context of the wide range of energy research that is currently being funded, and how our own research feeds into the overarching aims of the ‘Energy’ theme.
After lunch, there were a series of interactive parallel workshops covering the following themes:
- Developing leaders
- Cross-disciplinary research
- Building international reputation
I attended the first two on the above list. In ‘developing leaders’ we heard about the EPSRC fellowship scheme for energy research. Fellowship are available for ‘post-doctoral’, ‘early career’ and ‘established career’ researchers and may provide a great opportunity for career progression.
Cross-disciplinary research is a particularly challenging endeavour, yet one which is increasingly important as it becomes apparent that the mono-disciplinary approach falls short when it comes to addressing the complexity of energy research.
Professor Neil Strachan set us the challenge to consider how our own disciplines could contribute to a specific research brief and then to suggest how other disciplines could support us in achieving this goal. We were divided into groups of social scientists, economists, engineers and natural scientists. We then shared feedback between the groups to see if the services we were offering from our own disciplines aligned with what others felt it would be useful for us to contribute.
Needless to say this provoked a lively response which we were still debating when the session drew to a close…
Overall it was a stimulating day and we’d like to thank EPSRC for coming to see us.