Element Energy

Built Environment

The UK’s Clean Growth Strategy states that “decarbonising heat is our most difficult policy and technology challenge to meet our carbon targets”. Heating and cooling in buildings nonetheless accounts for around one-third of the UK’s carbon emissions, and around two-thirds of power sector emissions relate to lighting and appliances in buildings. Decarbonisation of the sector will therefore be of critical importance to meeting climate goals, a challenge which will require innovative technology, imaginative business models and robust policymaking.

Element Energy’s Buildings team guides clients including policymakers, technology developers, investors and utilities to shape their role in the transition taking place to decarbonise energy use in buildings. We have advised national and local Governments in the UK, Ireland, the EU, Morocco and Turkey on energy efficiency and low carbon heat policy, bringing clarity and providing actionable recommendations on the design of incentive schemes, planning policy and legislation. We have authored high profile studies defining the debate on topics including the cost of future heat infrastructure for the National Infrastructure Commission, the role of heat networks in the UK for the Committee on Climate Change, the potential for energy efficiency in buildings to contribute to climate targets for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the impact of heat sector decarbonisation on gas and electricity infrastructure for the European Climate Foundation. We have consulted for Big Six energy companies, network operators and disruptive technology developers on themes as diverse as the future of the UK gas network, the commercial building demand response market, Ireland’s heat pump sector and the European ESCO market.

Key skills and expertise

Deep understanding of energy use and energy technologies in buildings. As applied scientists and engineers, we have a strong technical understanding of both incumbent and innovative energy-using technologies, of the underlying drivers of energy demand in buildings and of how these can best be adapted in a particular situation to achieve carbon emissions savings without loss of comfort or utility to the end-user.

Track record in consumer behaviour and policy design. We recognised at an early stage the importance of understanding and influencing consumer behaviour – rather than a pure ‘top-down’ application of technology – in achieving decarbonisation in the energy sector. Through the deployment of original surveys and the analysis of real-world and field trial data, we understand how different consumer segments and investor groups use energy systems and respond to various types of incentives and other interventions.

Expertise in economic analysis and business modelling. All our work involves an assessment of the economic costs and benefits of the low carbon project or policy in question, whether as part of a policy impact assessment or the development of a market entry strategy and business model for a technology developer, energy company or investor. We maintain extensive, up-to-date cost and performance databases on energy efficiency and low carbon heating technologies which enable us to evaluate the economic proposition of a proposed project or investment.

 

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Examples of some of our projects

Cost analysis of future heat infrastructure options, for the National Infrastructure Commission (2018)

Unlocking the Energy Efficiency Opportunity, for SEAI (2015)

Economic analysis for the Renewable Heat Incentive for Ireland, for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (2017)

Research on district heating and local approaches to heat decarbonisation, for the Committee on Climate Change (2016)