At Manchester, our experts are committed to delivering an equitable and prosperous net zero energy future.
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Households, communities, businesses and industry need to be able to access energy in a way that is sustainable, just and secure.
How we use energy, and where we get it from, has significant implications on how we address the climate change challenge, and also how our economy and society might flourish.
Leading the energy transition
The breadth and depth of our energy research is unique to Manchester.
By bringing together science and engineering with social science, economics, politics and arts, our community of more than 600 experts can address the entire lifecycle of every challenge faced. In collaboration they create innovative and enduring solutions to make a difference to the lives of people across the globe.
We're helping to develop pathways to ensure a low carbon energy transition that will also drive jobs, prosperity, resilience and equality though a focus on three strategic research areas.
Energy production and security
Our researchers are taking on the challenge of meeting supply and demand – ensuring efficient, reliable and secure access as we decarbonise, decentralise and digitise energy systems.
Energy equity and engagement
Our experts in innovation, politics, economics and social justice are engaging governments, industries and communities to ensure universal access to reliable, affordable, and sufficient energy in a way that allows economies and communities to thrive.
Energy and environmental sustainability
We’re at the forefront of tackling climate change, delivering answers to the biggest questions facing the future of our planet. This includes devising pioneering methods to mitigate the environmental impacts of energy supply and demand.
Our digital collection brings together insight and analysis on energy, providing thought leadership and expertise.
Download an overview of our energy expertise (PDF document, 1.7MB).
National Grid and University pilot drone-mounted electric field sensors
The £1.1 million project aims to deliver an airborne system that can monitor high voltage insulators, saving time and cost compared with traditional ground patrols.
Let's Talk Climate podcast
A frank discussion on carbon offsetting with professors Kevin Anderson and Mat Paterson is on Spotify now.
The UK needs a national energy advice service
Manchester researchers have co-authored an article that calls for a national-level advice service to help promote access to low-carbon energy for all.
Real world Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage emission estimates
Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage could play an important role in meeting the UK’s net zero emissions target says the sixth carbon budget scenario.
New analytical framework provides economic benefits for Nile countries
Manchester researchers have developed unique river basin modelling software, combining reservoir management, economy-wide performance and artificial intelligence techniques to design adaptive plans for climate change situations.
Radioactive robot ‘invention of the year’
A radioactive robot named Lyra that was developed by Manchester researchers has been awarded Best Invention of 2022 by Time Magazine.
Research institutes and centres
The University is home to globally-renowned research institutes and centres that cover the full spectrum of energy investigation, including:
- Dalton Nuclear Institute
- Henry Royce Institute
- Manchester Environmental Research Institute
- Manchester Institute of Innovation Research
- Manchester Urban Institute
- National Graphene Institute
- Power conversion and electronics
- Productivity Institute
- Sustainable Consumption Institute
- Thomas Ashton Institute
- Tyndall Manchester
The ground-breaking work of these communities influences local authorities, industry and international partners to deliver real-world energy and environmental solutions.
A living laboratory
Our leading facilities including the 2MV high-voltage laboratory on campus and £20 million Dalton Cumbrian Facility, help both us and our industry partners develop innovative solutions. The campus acts as a living laboratory, with its 339 buildings providing a test bed for tomorrow’s energy systems.
For the homes of the future energy will need to travel new routes, going further and faster, while leaving no carbon footprint. At Manchester we’re helping ensure the systems are in place for this to be possible across a number of energy sources.
Energy: research breakthroughs
Research driving policy changes in shipping and aviation.
Research is helping Sellafield improve industrial treatment processes and site safety.
Turning agricultural waste by-products into safe, green, clean energy.
Design innovations and new technologies that reduce the construction cost of nuclear reactors.
Experts at Manchester are helping to increase the sustainability and affordability of solar technology.
Global challenges, Manchester solutions
Reprocessing radioactive materials
Removing nuclear fuel and other waste products, whether from damaged nuclear power plants such as Fukushimi Daiichi or decaying storage ponds at Sellafield, is extremely difficult due to high levels of radioactivity.
We’ve designed an amphibious, remotely operated vehicle that can fit through small access ports, typically found in nuclear facilities; carry neutron detection and navigation equipment, and withstand extremely radioactive environments.
At Fukushima Daiichi the vehicle will help identify fuel that is believed to have melted so that it can be safely removed, significantly reducing radiation levels, lowering risk and making the plant easier and cheaper to decommission.
Locking up radioactive wastes
Radioactive wastes contain long-lived radionuclides that will be around for millions of years. Understanding their behaviour in waste disposal systems is critical to ensuring safe, publicly acceptable disposal of these challenging
byproducts of nuclear energy generation.
In collaboration with Diamond Light Source, our researchers investigated long-lived radionuclides using X-ray spectroscopy techniques. We found that radionuclides could be directly and irreversibly ‘locked up’ within the iron oxide mineral frameworks that are present in the waste, under a range of different conditions, thereby limiting their movement into the environment. The research is being used by Radioactive Waste Management and Sellafield Ltd.
Harnessing the potential of biomass
Biomass has potential to provide sustainable, low carbon energy. Rice farming in Asia produces about 550 million tonnes of straw residue annually; however, this potential fuel source is simply burnt in fields, resulting in emissions hazardous to humans and the ecosystem.
Manchester researchers use a multidisciplinary approach to deliver the technology to turn rice straw residue into a clean energy source, factoring in the priorities and preferences of local communities and their energy demands.
Our academics have experience working across the globe to tackle logistical, technological and environmental issues.
Storing energy until required
Renewables are key for a growth in low carbon energy, but are inherently intermittent power generation sources. Enhancing how we store energy will therefore by pivotal to our efforts to decarbonise our energy system.
Our research is transforming the processes that bring energy to our homes and finding ways to use existing systems more efficiently. Our involvement in the multidisciplinary MY-STORE project is bringing a new perspective on the wide-scale deployment of energy storage by exploring socioeconomic and environmental factors as well as public perceptions for future distributed multi-energy systems.
Combating energy poverty
Many people across the world cannot afford enough energy to meet their basic needs, which seriously impacts on their well-being.
Researchers at our Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy are working to understand the complex causes of energy poverty. Our researchers are advocating an ambitious and strategic approach, backed by national government resources, which includes comprehensive energy efficiency improvements proactively targeted at areas of poor housing stock.
Wider measures should address rising energy prices and the structural causes of low incomes, such as unemployment. Manchester is also the lead institution for the European Energy Poverty Observatory.
Reducing the costs of nuclear power
Manufacturing high-integrity nuclear power station components is expensive. New approaches are needed to make this less costly, balanced with a detailed understanding of new manufacturing processes and the effect these have on component performance over design life.
We’re building a capability to produce realistic manufacturing features, such as industry-standard welds, carrying out detailed materials analysis to determine performance at the micro and macro scale, and developing analytical models of long-term performance. We’ve also invested £8 million in our Manufacturing Technology Research Laboratory, dedicated to innovation in nuclear manufacturing.
Social research in nuclear power
The global transition to zero carbon energy will have a profound impact on society. New understandings of the social controversies around nuclear power will be vital if it is to play its part in this transition.
Manchester is leading The Beam, a novel research network fostering engagement between the nuclear sciences and social research to open up new thinking and approaches for civil nuclear decision-makers. The network invites world-class researchers to bring their insight to bear on global nuclear challenges, encouraging an ethnographic approach and placing emphasis on those impacted by nuclear power.
Get an in-depth insight into some of our world-changing energy research.
Experts for media
Our energy and climate change experts can offer fresh perspectives and explain how we're advancing knowledge for a better world.
On Net Zero
Read expert analysis and policy recommendations on how the UK can accelerate its path to net zero, while building back better.
Download On Net Zero
Manchester Policy Blogs: Energy and environment
Explore the key debates in our energy and environment policy blogs.
Research beacons breakthrough ebook
Read our ebook for insights into how Manchester commercialises its world-class academic research.
Download our breakthrough ebook
Solving sustainability challenges
Learn how our research is creating a greener world by delivering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Find out how we're delivering solutions to urgent environmental challenges.
Find out how we're partnering on innovative solutions to climate challenges.
Find out more
Sustainable Futures Seminar Series
20 April 2023, 2pm-3pm
This event, in partnership with Creative Manchester, will showcase talks from The University of Manchester's Professor Ricardo Climent and Professor Mat Paterson. Agenda 14:00: W..
Exclusive Screening of The Plastic Warriors Documentary
3 May 2023, 5.45pm-8pm
Sustainable Futures and Social Responsibility at The University of Manchester are delighted to host this exclusive screening of The Plastic Warriors Documentary. Showcasing expert..