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

Stacks of books

Delivering Our Future Power System

This Briefing Paper showcases a novel, codified framework that defines the objective of delivering a decarbonised power system, a means of tracking progress and an assessment of the UK’s progress to date.


Enabling the UK to become the Saudi Arabia of wind? The cost of green hydrogen from offshore wind

This briefing paper explores the potential for producing green hydrogen from wind energy in the UK. It uses geospatial modelling to map the potential production cost of green hydrogen across the UK and its territorial waters. The key conclusions underscore the potential benefits of pairing offshore wind with hydrogen production. 

Materials for Energy

Lithium-ion batteryThis Briefing Paper considers the availability and development of materials for the energy sector, investigating both current availability and forecasted production of several critical materials and looking at the state of development of novel materials in the energy sector.

Accelerating the transition to heat pumps: measuring real-world performance and enabling peer-to-peer learning

Major challenges exist for decarbonising heat in buildings through mass adoption of heat pumps. This Briefing Paper investigates the impacts and feasibility of leveraging early adopters by measuring in-situ heat pump installation outcomes and sharing these as case studies to enable peer-to-peer learning among consumers and installers.

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.

The Future of Home Heating

ThermostatThis Briefing Paper explores the prospects for the future of home heating with specific reference to heat pumps and hydrogen. The advantages, challenges, and technicalities of the two technologies are investigated and a series of policy recommendations are made to accelerate the decarbonisation of the UK's heating sector.

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. 

Smart and Flexible Electric Heat

This 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.

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.