Thursday, 17 January 2013

Apologies - typo in URL

And the correct URL for the project website is

Signing off

The CLUES project has now ended. However you can still visit the project website at which will continue to be updated. In particular you can find details there of academic publications from the project as they get published, download the project tool - which is a guide for strategic policy makers considering the pursuit of decentralised energy pathways, and use the interactive CLUE Energy Triangle tool - which is a self-evaluation exercise. Do browse around the site for information about the project and its outputs.
Thanks for you interest,
Yvonne Rydin

Monday, 26 March 2012

Energy-materials linkage

This looks like an interesting new book, published out of the engineering faculty at Cambridge University: Sustainable Materials - With Both Eyes Open. It is accompanied by a website at www. The central premise is the need to rethink how we use materials in order to cut our carbon emissions. As well as switching to renewable energies, the authors set out three key principles concerning how we design the use of materials:
1) make lighter products with less materials in them
2) keep products for longer making more use of the embodied carbon within them
3) use them more intensively.
In addition they suggest the reduction of wastage in production processes and better reuse of components in old products.
So taking the case of steel-frame commercial buildings, they propose lighter-weight designs with less scrap during production, greater reuse of steel, buildings planned for a longer life and more people per sq.m. within the buildings.
In bits, we know all these things but it is interesting to see it all put together.

Yvonne Rydin

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

London’s Energy Future

The London’s Energy Future Symposium took place on 19 March at UCL. The event was the first in a series organised by London 2062. This is a project under the UCL Grand Challenge Grants Scheme which looks at the long term future of London across a number of issues by bringing together a range of leading academics and practitioners. Speakers included Paul Ekins and Bob Lowe of the UCL Energy Institute, Peter North of GLA and Bob Fiddik from the London Borough of Croydon. Among the many issues discussed that day few are listed below:
· Current policy challenges including the price of energy (i.e. low-carbon energy is currently more expensive than high-carbon energy); energy efficiency in buildings (measuring building performance, building industry skills, building valuation and motivating/ regulating
household reduction/ consumption); and incentivising investment (via the electricity market reform, Green Deal loans and Green Investment Bank).
· GLA’s policy is that London is moving towards district heating! GLA has already produced a series of ‘heat maps (see and is drawing up at the moment an ‘Energy Master Plan’.
· ‘Lessons’ from other countries show us that the UK needs to move towards more ‘collective thinking’ which is, however, deeply counter cultural in this country; and de-risking legislation for the energy market
· Who should design energy systems and energy policy? Economists and engineers, alongside policy makers, not only policy makers as done over the last 10 years!
· For the scale of envisaged change to happen we need to built a ‘community of practice’, continuous and coherent policy support, and include economics and engineer ‘literates’ in policy processes.
This was an interesting discussion, loaded with economic and technical stuff! However, the role that institutions and people might play in this transition has been little touched upon!

Catalina Turcu, UCL
21 March 2012

A golden age for gas - but not in Europe!

Just came across this interesting post on the EU Energy Policy Blog...
'Forget the gloom about fossil fuels. True, oil is scarce; granted, coal is dirty – but natural gas is clean and plentiful. In terms of local air pollution, gas burns very cleanly indeed. In terms of greenhouse gases it emits half what coal does, per KWh generated. Unlike oil, or even coal, the world’s gas reserves are expanding dramatically. The coming decades could be a golden age for natural gas, as the International Energy Agency explored in a recent report by this title. However, it is doubtful that Europe will share in this new gas era.'
Catalina Turcu, UCL
21 March 2011

Friday, 16 March 2012

CLUES project presented in Sweden

The CLUES project was presented this week at the Swedish Energy Outlook Congress held at the Swedish Exhibition Centre in Gothenburg. This is the major annual event for the energy sector in Sweden to come together and discuss policy, see new technology and generally just network. Extending over three days, the Congress saw a major exhibition from the many companies, universities and consultancies working on energy in Sweden. The CLUES project had been invited by Tengbom to present an analysis of centralisation/decentralisation in a very different context to Sweden. The influence of local authorities and the heavy use of all kinds of renewables sets a very different framework for pursuing a more sustainable energy path. However it was interesting to see some familiar concerns from the UK being aired: the limitations of regulations, the need to engage with local stakeholders and the problem of low housebuilding rates putting the emphasis on retrofitting.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Community Energy event

UEA and Sussex Universities hosted a lively debate on community energy at UEA London yesterday. Speakers included Chris Church of the Low Carbon Communities Network, Rebecca Willis who has recently co-authored a guide to 'Cooperative Renewable Energy in the UK', Rufus Ford of Scottish and Southern Energy, Patrick Allcorn from DECC and Damian Tow, founder member and Director of Brighton Energy Co-operative. Among the many issues raised were:
- the importance of a sound business case for community energy
- the need to invest in skills and capacity building as well as technology
- the potential dangers in the grant system of a) over-reliance on subsidies and b) inherent bias as past winners of grants succeed time and again, and
- the need to recognise equity issues in making any grants.
The aim has to be to create a self-sustaining community energy sector, which is currently proving difficult. The complexity of the policy landscape does not help and some suggested that the community sector was treated rather patronisingly, rather than recognising the way that - collectively - it is a major player in the energy field. In the managed market for energy, a separate Community Feed in Tariff would be a good way forward, establishing the basis for community enterprises to scale up and function as businesses. Normalisation of community energy should be the ambition which many argued was within reach.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

MINDSPACE: A challenging proposal to influence (low carbon) behaviour through policy?

Paul Dolan, Professor of Behavioural Science at the LSE, thinks that lessons from the behavioural
sciences can be used to understand and change individual behaviour, which in turn can help meet current policy challenges, such as how to reduce crime, tackle obesity and ensure environmental sustainability. With that in mind, he sets out nine of the most robust (non-coercive) influences on human behaviour, captured in a simple mnemonic – MINDSPACE – which can be used as a quick checklist when making policy. These are:
  • Messenger - we are heavily influenced by who communicates information
  • Incentives - our responses to incentives are shaped by predictable mental shortcuts such as strongly avoiding losses
  • Norms - we are strongly influenced by what others do
  • Defaults - we „go with the flow‟ of pre-set options
  • Salience - our attention is drawn to what is novel and seems relevant to us
  • Priming - our acts are often influenced by sub-conscious cues
  • Affect - our emotional associations can powerfully shape our actions
  • Commitments - we seek to be consistent with our public promises, and reciprocate acts
  • Ego - we act in ways that make us feel better about ourselves

He is working at the moment on one energy related project: “The use of online social norms in
influencing energy consumption: testing whether online information can change behaviour”. The project is an experiment on social tenants in Camden which sends out individual letters that ‘expose’ where the household’s energy consumption lies in comparison to its neighbours. The research found that the households receiving personalised letters have significantly reduced their
energy consumption (by 2%) when compared to the control group (exposed to traditional
campaigning for energy consumption reduction).

However, the research also finds that the ‘letter effect’ seems to wear off in time. Thus, one-off or
short-term changes in behaviour do not seem to trigger longer term changes in lifestyles. …and this is certainly supported by some of the evidence emerging from the CLUES case studies.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Call for Papers

CLUES Conference: Energy in the Locality.

8th May 2012, University College London, London

To register your interest please go to

Many current research projects on energy systems are using urban and rural case studies to explore a variety of research questions.  They employ a wide range of techniques and resulting findings provide a rich platform for interaction between academics, on the one hand, and policy makers and practitioners, on the other hand.

The CLUES Conference: Energy in the Locality is organised as part of the CLUES Project ( and aims to provide an opportunity to hear results from local case studies on different aspects of energy systems, and to reflect on the theoretical and methodological implications of using case studies to understand such systems.
A key-note address will be provided by Professor Patrick Devine-Wright of Exeter University. Thereafter the conference will be structured into three streams:
Ø  The Theory and Methodology of Case Study Research Session will explore the theoretical and methodological foundations of local case study research in relation to energy studies.
Ø  The Results from Urban and Rural Energy Case Studies Session will overview research findings from projects based on urban and/or rural energy case studies.
Ø  The Case Study Circus Session will focus on short presentations of ‘one-offs’ innovative local energy case studies.
In addition, there will be a Poster Session where delegates can view summaries of research projects during refreshment periods.

Abstract submissions will take the form of:
Ø  an abstract of up to 250 words for papers for ‘Theory and Methodology’ or ‘Results’ sessions,  and/or
Ø  a brief outline of up to 50 words for the ‘Case Study Circus’ or the’ Poster Session’.
Abstracts should be submitted by 24 February 2012 to Successful presenters will be notified by 16 March 2012. Conference participation is free but a limited number of places is available and priority will be given to those giving presentations.

Please feel free to disseminate to all those who might be interested.

To register your interest please go to

Contact details:
Dr. Catalina Turcu
Bartlett School of Planning UCL
22 Gordon Street London WC1H 0QB

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

CLUES Survey of Urban Energy Projects

As part of our work to bring together the various tracks of activity in CLUES, we are inviting people who are involved with urban energy to take part in a survey that aims to enhance understanding of the issues and challenges that they face.

Who should take part?
If you have been involved with projects or policy to develop energy generation, increase energy efficiency in urban areas in the UK, or other activities related to urban energy generation and consumption, then your input will be invaluable. We are particularly interested in hearing from planners, policy makers, and urban designers as well as individuals working in the third sector.

How does it work? 
The survey will be carried out in two stages via a web interface between January and April 2012, with the second stage being based on the results of the first (referred to as Delphi technique). Each stage will require a maximum of half an hour and can be completed at a time convenient to the participant.

What is the research?
The survey is part of the CLUES project (Challenging Lock-in Through Urban Energy Systems), which is combining national and international research to better understand how urban energy systems can contribute to delivering carbon reductions, and disseminating the findings in a way that will assist decision-making. 

How can you take part?
I hope that you will consider taking part. To register, simply enter your name and email address into this Internet form ( by 27th January. If you have any questions about the research, please contact

Please mention this to colleagues who may be interested in taking part.