From Energy Biographies to Flexible Energy Systems

by Chris Groves, 19 May 2016

Flexis logo

The Energy Biographies team are now working as part of the FLEXIS project, which is part of the new Energy Systems Research Institute at Cardiff University. This project brings together academics from Cardiff, Swansea and the University of South Wales, and benefits from expertise in engineering, architecture, geography and social science.

How we all use energy is likely to change in coming years, against the background of the ‘energy trilemma’ – the need to provide secure access to energy for all, to keep it affordable, and last but certainly not least, to decarbonise the energy system. But introducing new renewable sources of energy has big implications, which will require new innovations in energy storage and in the infrastructure through which energy is distributed. In turn, these have potentially significant social impacts in terms of their benefits, where they are sited, and how they are paid for.

·         Will we see an upsurge in community ownership of energy infrastructure?

·         Will tidal lagoons or other sources of hydropower play a big role?

·         Will heating be provided to whole communities by waste heat from hospitals or factories, or from geothermal sources, such as minewater?

The Energy Biographies team are leading on social science research under FLEXIS which will draw on key themes explored on the Energy Biographies project to help assess the social acceptability and viability of new innovations for flexible energy systems. Energy Biographies themes – such as how people make sense of energy in their everyday lives, how using energy in different ways contributes to the living of worthwhile lives, and how community experiments with new ways of using energy can open up different futures – will play a major part in helping to shape energy innovation in Wales in socially and environmentally responsible ways.