School of Social and Political Science

Research project type

Reframing Energy Demand



Rather than narrow (and potentially misleading) technical and economic assessments, ‘Reframing Energy Demand’ (which ran from 2014 to 2018) focussed on explaining the differences between societies in patterns of energy efficiency and demand for heating. We paid particular attention to urban settings, because this is where heat demand is concentrated and where many resources for innovation are located, but we also consider the interaction of city, national and European scales.

We compared UK, Danish and German responses to concurrent economic and environmental challenges, and the role of cities in emerging solutions in each case. We studied particular cities in England, Scotland, Germany and Denmark to identify and analyse differences in energy performance of buildings, heating systems, and energy policy and market structures.

The research aims of ‘Reframing Energy Demand’ were threefold:

  • first, to develop a new analysis of innovations in energy efficiency and sustainable heat by drawing on two related strands of social science research on innovation: social studies of the technical infrastructures and market instruments which underpin energy demand and supply, and which structure the pace and shape of change
  • second, to develop detailed evidence about emerging innovations for energy efficiency and sustainable heat in selected UK and European cities, and to analyse the implications of these innovations for urban energy demand to 2050
  • third, to use our research to identify the potential, and means, for shared learning between European cities, in relation to energy efficiency and sustainable heat policy and practice. We did this by working closely with UK and European policymakers, businesses and communities

Findings provide insight into feasible and effective ways forward for UK energy efficiency and sustainable heat policy.

Read out latest briefing Meeting the strategic challenges of UK district heating which summarises key findings.

Research Team

Principal Investigators: Janette Webb (PI; Sociology), Mark Winskel and Ronan Bolton (Co-Is; STIS)

Further information

Research themes

  • Energy, environment and sustainability
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