Whole Systems Networking Fund: project announcement

08 Sep 2022

We are delighted to announce the details of the successful projects awarded through our Whole Systems Networking Fund.

We held a single call for projects with the theme of ‘advancing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in energy research’. It was a competitive call – we received 29 applications, 14 of which progressed onto the second assessment stage, and we have now awarded seven successful projects. We look forward to welcoming them to the consortium and to working with them going forward.

We would also like to thank everyone involved with the call, including those who contributed to our consultations last year, the fund’s Steering Group, Screening Panel and all applicants.

Awarded projects:

Energy, Health and Happiness

Project Lead: Eleanya Nduka, University of Warwick

We can only achieve inclusive energy across the globe if households in developing countries, especially those in rural areas, are included. In rural communities women often bear the brunt of cooking and fetching wood, but the impacts of energy poverty on them and their children are often hidden in studies that use aggregate data. This project aims to provide insights into the impact of dirty energy on mothers’ and their children’s physical and mental wellbeing in communities in Nigeria.

EXPO-ENGAGE: Facilitating participation in air quality citizen science

Project Lead: Jo Garrett, University of Exeter

Reducing fossil fuel usage to achieve net zero will require major changes to how we live. Citizen science is one way to engage communities with energy transitions, however, those living in deprived areas or on low household incomes tend to be less likely to participate in citizen science initiatives . This project will work with communities in Cornwall and South Wales to develop a network of stakeholders to identify barriers to participation in citizen science.

Supporting EDI in Energy Systems: Incorporating community and gender perspectives

Project Lead: Federico Caprotti, University of Exeter

To be sustainable, future energy systems need to integrate evidence-based, community-sourced perspectives and experience. However, voices from poor communities, specifically women, are the least likely to be heard and are often side-lined in the policymaking process. This project will engage low-income communities in Plymouth, UK and Cape Town, South Africa on how to structure future energy systems to ensure they are responsive to, and informed by, community needs.

Energy Modelling for All

Project Lead: Lirong Liu, University of Surrey

Energy modelling is vital to achieving net zero and contributes to energy security, with models underpinning decision making across policy, industry and civil society. However, the energy sector remains one of the least gender diverse and women are significantly underrepresented in modelling. This project will build a network of women in energy modelling from different disciplines, establish a platform with open learning resources and host a series of events to establish a supportive peer community.

Careers of Ethnic Minority Energy Professionals

Project Lead: Mehreen Gul, Heriot-Watt University

Energy has traditionally been a homogenous sector, lacking the diversity of wider society. Though ethnic minorities appear to be relatively well represented in energy, emerging evidence suggests that some groups fare better than others. Individuals’ multiple social identities (race, class, religion and gender) intersect in complex ways to influence their experiences. This project will examine intersectionality in ethnic minority individuals’ experiences at two key transition points, early and mid-career, in both industry and academia.

The Social Relations of Applying for Energy Grants

Project Lead: Ruth Bookbinder, University of Leeds

The UKERC-funded ‘Whole Person Whole Place’ project has found that homeowners from low-income Asian households apply for ECO almost 12 times more than expected, challenging current assumptions that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are ‘hard to reach’ and disengaged from energy policy. This project will work with Asian-background households in Bradford, to discover why people from this community are applying for energy grants in higher numbers and gain insight into designing effective policies for specific social groups.

Energy SHINES: Energy Social sciences and Humanities Insights for Non-Energy Sectors

Project Lead: Zareen Bharucha, Anglia Ruskin University

Organisations in ‘non-energy’ sectors have a key role to play in the net zero transition and must overcome a number of energy-related challenges. However, energy transitions are generally dominated by technical disciplines and are gender imbalanced. This project will address these gaps by facilitating partnerships between women Early Career Researchers (ECRs) from energy social science and humanities (SSH) backgrounds and the UK Government (BEIS), the National Health Service (NHS England), Yorkshire Water, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The ECRs selected will bring SSH insights to bear on the energy-related challenges these organisations face.