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Energy Futures Lab briefing papers

The Energy Futures Lab Briefing Papers are periodic reports aimed at all stakeholders in the energy sector. They bring together expertise from across Imperial College London to provide clarity to a wide range of energy topics.

The work is coordinated by Dr Aidan Rhodes, Energy Futures Lab Research Fellow. If you have any questions or comments please contact him at

Balancing Privacy and Access to Smart Meter Data

This Briefing Paper investigates four key elements of smart meter data privacy: existing data protection regulations; the personal information embedded within smart meter data; consumer privacy concerns; and privacy-preserving techniques that could be incorporated alongside existing mechanisms to minimise or eliminate potential privacy infringements.

Smart and Flexible Electric Heat

Heat pump against peach coloured wallThis Briefing Paper explores the potential for smart flexible low-carbon electric heating in UK homes and the challenges for consumer engagement. This paper considers four key elements for enabling smart, flexible and cost- effective electric heating in UK homes: low-carbon heating systems; cost-reflective electricity pricing; thermally efficient buildings; and smart storage devices.

Impacts of COVID-19 on the Energy System

Empty motorway leading to power plantThis Briefing Paper, which brings together research from across the IDLES Programme at Imperial College London, investigates how electricity demand changed at both household and national levels during Britain's COVID-19 lockdowns and details the measures that were taken by the electricity system operator to keep the lights on in challenging conditions. 

Digitalisation of Energy

DigitalisationThis briefing paper investigates the impact of new digital technologies on energy applications. The overarching objective is to understand the effects these technologies will have on the current energy system, the new challenges they will pose, and the policies and regulatory measures which will assist in making them a success.

Electricity markets, incentives and zero subsidy renewables. Do Britain’s power markets and policies need to change?

Are Britain’s electricity market arrangements fit for purpose or broken?This briefing paper, published in June 2019, is a review of the electricity market arrangements in the UK. The paper asks whether there is a need for fundamental reform to the arrangements as a result of the rising share of variable renewables such as wind and solar power.

Unlocking the potential of residential electricity consumer engagement with Demand Response

Unlocking the potential of residential electricity consumer engagement with Demand ResponseThis briefing paper, published in December 2018, assesses the evidence base for residential consumer engagement with electricity demand response technologies and services and to draw lessons for the UK context. It relates findings to specific topical issues such as: the implications for increasing UK energy consumer engagement generally; supplier testing of engagement measures; and the commercialisation of DR-related technologies.

Unlocking the potential of Energy Systems Integration

Unlocking the potential of Energy Systems IntegrationThis briefing paper, released in April 2018, investigates how the UK can link heat, transport, electricity and other energy vectors into one interconnected ecosystem. Building such a system is potentially a cost-effective way to decarbonise our energy sector and produce a more reliable and resilient system.

Is the UK facing an electricity security crisis?

Is the UK facing an electricity security crisis?This briefing paper, released in October 2017, reviews the evidence surrounding electricity supply security in the UK to determine whether there is a serious risk of electricity supply issues, what the issues and concerns are and why the topic is so controversial.

During the preparation for the paper Energy Futures Lab also produced a Scoping Note on the topic.

Materials for Energy

Lithium-ion batteryThis upcoming Briefing Paper will consider the current availability and development of materials for the energy sector. It aims to assess whether the world could face availability issues in materials critical to the production of low-carbon energy technologies, the state of development of novel materials in the sector, and present policy recommendations to strengthen the security and accelerate the development of critical materials.