Energy and Society
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Knowledge Exchange & Impact

Our work is driven by a commitment to public engagement. We partner with public, private, and third sectors to broker knowledge and generate impact. We work to inform government decision-making by influencing planning and policy processes. We work to bring social science insights to industry partners through partnership and consultancy. We develop participatory methodologies and good practice principles for engaging with communities. And we work to bring social social science perspectives to public debate through collaborations with digital and visual artists.

wind farm and cloud


Energy and Society Network members are leading the University of Edinburgh's social science impact on energy transitions in Scotland, the UK and beyond.

Our recent high impact work is transforming the ways that governments, communities and industry understand sustainable energy transitions.

The Heat and the City research project explored the scope for affordable, low carbon community heating systems in UK cities and worked to inform government decision making.  The Learning Energy Systems research project led by architects with contributions from social scientists in science/technology studies developed novel data design methodologies to reduce energy consumption in Scottish schools and engage children with issues of energy demand. The Solar Waste project in social anthropology pioneered new modes of engagement with the global off grid solar industry to promote the sustainable design of products built for people who live without electricity in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. 

Details and links to current and past projects can be found below.  


Name ESN Member Overview Collaboration
InGrid - Integration of Power Transmission Grids Dr Ronan Bolton

The primary objective of this project is to generate new knowledge about the institutional, technological, and economical, challenges related to the transformation of transmission power grids across Europe. Greater energy systems integration can facilitate longterm, sustainable restructuring of European countries' energy systems, efficient use of renewable energy sources, power system flexibility, and further increasing the shares of renewable energy. The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the ENERGIX programme.

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, The Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education - NIFU, CICERO Center for International Climate and Environmental Research
Energy and Forced Displacement: A Qualitative Approach to Light, Heat and Power in Refugee Camps Dr Jamie Cross This project - through a 15 month collaboration with the Moving Energy Initiative, its implementation partner Practical Action, and research teams in Kenya and Burkina Faso - aims to improve access to sustainable energy for displaced people by bringing traditions of qualitative research in the arts and social sciences to bear on the way that the humanitarian community understands and responds to their needs for light, heat and power.  The Moving Energy Initiative, UK Department for International Development, Chatham House, Practical Action, Energy4Impact.
Energy and Climate Policy Effectiveness in Scotland Dr Mark Winskel, Dr Nial Kerr

The overarching aim of the project is to support energy and climate policy design by conducting high qhigh-qualityrch on policy effectiveness. Initially, the work will develop an assessment method to better understand the factors shaping the delivery of a given set of policy objectives, of what works and why in terms of efficiency, equity and institutional feasibility. We will then pilot the assessment method on low carbon heat policy in Scotland, where an analysis will be made of the effectiveness of low carbon heat policies in terms of meeting policy targets. Overall, we seek to balance between formal assessment methods and in-depth analysis of specific policies in Scotland, while also cultivating best practice exchange between independent researchers and Scottish energy policy teams. 

Imperial College London,

Scottish Government
Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) - Pilot evaluation Dr Jan Webb, Dr Rush Bush

Through this research we work with Scottish central and local governments on the development of Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP). We are carrying out a multi-criteria evaluation of 25 low carbon heat and energy efficiency projects led by local authorities across Scotland. The research will ask what we can learn from this first round of pilots and how these lessons can be put into practice to support delivery of Scotland's Climate Change targets for 2020 and 2050:

Energy Saving Trust,
Scottish Government,
Home Energy Scotland,
Scottish local authorities leading the SEEP pilot projects