Energy & climate change division

The Energy and Climate Change Division  (ECCD) and the Sustainable Energy Research Group (SERG) are within the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton.

The Sustainable Energy Research Group (SERG) aims to promote and undertake fundamental and applied research related to the efficient use of energy in the built environment. This is alongside pre-industrial development in the areas of renewable energy technologies. SERG undertakes research in core areas of energy, specifically in Cities and InfrastructureData and ModellingEnergy and BehaviourEnergy and BuildingsEnergy for DevelopmentEnvironmental ImpactsMicrogeneration Technologies and Renewable Energy (Solar Photovoltaicsand Marine Energy).

About ECCD

ECCD is a research division in the University of Southampton

Research theme

The Sustainable Energy Research Group undertakes research in core areas of energy, click here to know more

Upcoming Events

A Roadshow will be hosted by ECCD on Thursday 9 November 2017. Click here to know more.


Full list of publications of the ECCD group, click here

Research themes

Energy and Buildings

More than 40% of the UK’s primary energy demand is related to buildings, ventilation, lighting and powering electrical appliances. As most buildings are not designed for optimum energy use, there is significant potential to reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. The challenge lies in encouraging the construction industry to carry out energy-conscious refurbishment as well as making energy users aware of their behaviour. This is vital if the government’s target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% of the 1990 value by 2050 is to be achieved since the annual building stock turnover is very low in the UK (~ 1% per annum).

Cities and infrastructure

More than half of the world’s population is now living in cities and the worldwide trend of urbanisation is still continuing, in particular in emerging economies. Cities open up chances for individuals from rural communities to realise a better standard of living. However, a higher standard of living generally goes alongside higher energy consumption. In addition, an agglomeration of many people such as a large megacity creates further energy demands like for example mechanical cooling to alleviate urban heat island effects. Research within the group focusses on the role of buildings within sustainable city concepts and at a larger scale, the energy performance of city-regions in the context of their demographic and social makeup.

Energy and Behaviour

It is becoming clear that the the way people live their lives, including the way they inhabit buildings, makes a substantial difference to their energy use. Households of similar sizes and compositions living in homes of similar design and with similar infrastructures can have very different ways of living for all sorts of habitual, cultural and aesthetic reasons. This has implications for potential energy efficiency interventions and for the modelling of future energy demand. The same is true of non-domestic energy use where sensitivity to price (for example) is known to vary over time as contextual factors interplay. SERG’s research in this area concentrates on understanding and modelling behavioural aspects of energy use including potential rebound effects.

Micro-generation Technologies

Microgeneration refers to small scale systems that generate electricity and/or heat for domestic dwellings. Some systems have been commercially available for some time, for example solar thermal collectors that provide hot water and photovoltaic panels that generate electricity. A change in energy policy and recent developments in technology have prompted the emergence of micro-scale wind turbines and combined heat and power (CHP) systems. Micro generation is seen as a bold step towards decentralising power generation, reducing fuel poverty and increasing the percentage of power generated from renewable or low carbon sources. Research within the group encompass, solar thermal, combined heat and power, photovoltaics (PV) and micro wind.

Environmental Impacts

All energy-related activities change the environment in some way, for example conventional power stations emit carbon dioxide, other pollutants and reject heat to the atmosphere and hydrosphere. Renewable energy is not without impacts: wind and solar take up land and require access roads; wind power could start to affect atmospheric processes if deployed on a large enough scale; tidal power could affect water quality, biodiversity and geomorphology; wave power could impact upon surfing beaches. Not to mention the use of resources and energy in the construction of renewable energy systems. Therefore it is essential to consider the impacts of renewable energy on ecosystems services, against the baseline of increasing fossil fuel consumption and climate change.

Data and Modelling

SERG has extensive experience in collecting and analysing a range of energy generation and consumption data and this expertise underpins many of our other research activities.

Energy for Development

Reliable and affordable sources of energy are fundamental not only for wellbeing, but also for economic growth and poverty reduction.

Fulfilling the energy needs of developing countries without compromising the environment is a challenge, requiring imaginative policies and methods. Many rural communities in Africa do not have access to the national electricity network or the associated benefits in health and quality of life provided by electrical services such as lighting and refrigeration. The installation of modular energy technologies that can be operated independently provides a solution for these areas. SERG’s work in this area covers a range of geographical areas and generation scenarios.

Renewable Energy

The Sustainable Energy Research Group seeks to address the sustainable energy challenge across a range of scales and approaches. This encompasses diverse topics such as resource assessment of MW scale wet renewables, performance trials of micro-wind turbines, thin film photovoltaic development. Each research area looks at one or more aspects of the resource, converter and end user chain and how they interact.

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