Dr Alex Hilliam is Programme Manager and Dr Nicola Dunn is Project Manager - Climate and energy, both at ClimateXChange.
As the world transitions to greener energy systems with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change, it is crucial that the latest research informs policymaking and implementation.
Focused research is required for some aspects of this work, and here at ClimateXChange (CXC) we provide this for the Scottish Government, but there is research from other parts of the UK that can be relevant for Scotland. This is the case of research from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), a research programme funded by UK Research and Innovation.
Given that the CREDS programme is finishing, that we are closely connected and that the core role of CXC is to bring researchers and policymakers together, we thought it was timely to co-host an event to share the CREDS’ policy findings that are relevant to Scotland.
In this blog, we discuss some factors that contribute to successfully increasing the impact of energy demand research.
Connection with policymakers
Our team at CXC has been working with policymakers from the Scottish Government for more than 12 years. We therefore provide a trusted bridge between researchers and policymakers.
Hosting this event enabled us to link CREDS researchers with policymakers, which accounted to 35% of attendees, to identify synergies, help their work to make a difference.
This is a core part of what we do at CXC and the event provided a fantastic environment to build those links and make sure stakeholders are aware of energy demand research from across the UK.
Several attendees commented on how fortunate we are to have an organisation like CXC in Scotland, how unique our role is and how there is nothing like it in the rest of the UK bridging policy and expertise. Some, who are interested in ensuring their projects are policy-relevant and that research is targeted towards policy challenges, used the event as an opportunity to ask CXC to help connect them to government.
Short and clear presentations
There was a fantastic range of speakers and topics included, for instance local retrofit supply chains, exporting energy vulnerability and Covid-19 behaviours.
The CREDS team did a great job in requesting that presentations were bite size and in plain English, so that everyone from the audience could learn from them.. Attendees we spoke to at the event complimented that mix of themes and someone who worked on energy systems enjoyed it as much as someone who worked in behaviour and social change. Our in-person and online audiences seemed to agree, as most of our nearly 150 attendees stayed until the end.
Implications for Scotland
When putting together the agenda for the event, the CREDS team selected research that could be relevant for Scotland, even though some of it was conducted elsewhere in the UK.
Indeed researchers at the event kept their audience in mind when delivering their presentations. For instance, a researcher presenting work that was conducted in England highlighted the findings that were relevant to Scotland and how they could be used and/or have implications here.
Keeping presentations short, clear and tailored to Scotland was key to increase the impact of the research.
While it was really useful for us to be able to meet in-person with new and existing collaborators, the hybrid nature of the event meant that even those who could not be there in person were able to see the presentations and contribute questions.
This hybrid aspect also fostered collaborations. One of our Scottish Government contacts got in touch recently. She had joined online, so we did not see her on the day, and she was interested in a project that we had mentioned and wanting to find out more. So the event was successful even for improving visibility of work across teams that already work together.
The event ‘CREDS in collaboration: Scotland’ on 30 March was a great opportunity to enhance existing collaborations and kick-start new ones between researchers and stakeholders interested in using these results.
The spread of presentations highlighted the fact that the solution to reducing energy demand and meeting net zero targets does not lie solely on the technical side, but that behaviour change is also needed.
We were very pleased to see how successful the event was in terms of bringing evidence to policy. In the back of the event there are already clear links created between upcoming CXC projects and some of CREDS work.