The University of Manchester has more than 600 experts working on solutions to today's energy and clean growth challenges. We're involved in research right across the energy journey – from generation for power, transport and heat, through to energy consumption.
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With an energy research portfolio worth in excess of £80m, our academics and researchers are working across diverse fields, including power networks; advanced materials; climate change and clean energy generation such as nuclear, solar, wind, tidal and bioenergy. We also explore how societies can develop and transition to low-carbon futures.
With such scale and scope we’re able to address a broad range of challenges, working across disciplines to help deliver a brighter and more sustainable world for future generations.
Making a difference
At The University of Manchester we know the value of working together with others. We break down barriers and get involved; we collaborate across disciplines, cultures and countries to solve global problems; and we transform people’s lives by making positive change across the world.
“We are among the first in the world to try to capture the true diversity of energy demand in cities and project how this will change when smarter technologies will be available.”Prof Pierluigi Mancarella / Professor of Smart Energy Systems
Read expert analysis and commentary about the future of energy in a warming world in our On Energy publication.
Manchester policy blogs
Explore the key debates in our energy and environment policy blogs.
Experts for media
Our energy experts can offer fresh perspectives and explain how we're advancing knowledge for a better world.
Our expertise delivers real-world impact. We are enhancing the efficiency and viability of sustainable energy sources, helping partners in the bridging fuel sectors continue to meet demand and supporting the nuclear industry with the life extension of reactors and underpinning science for new nuclear manufacturing.
We’re helping to ensure energy gets to the point of need efficiently, providing UK network partners with the knowledge to deliver reliable and sustainable power.
Our work looks at integration challenges for decentralised energy, improving grid flexibility and the development of microgrids, smart energy networks and community-based energy schemes.
We also work closely with our local region on projects such as the UK’s largest ever trial of heat pumps. We’re finding out more about how today’s urban society uses energy, blending expertise from engineering and the social sciences to learn more about demand and how it can be met.
As part of the SCATTER (Setting City Areas Targets and Trajectories for Emission Reductions) project, commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, our academics at Tyndall Manchester have calculated a carbon budget for Greater Manchester that is compatible with the commitment in the Paris Climate Agreement and have helped provide a pathway for Manchester to reach its zero carbon commitment by 2038.
The University of Manchester also leads the European Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV) consortium which is dedicated to bringing about transformational change in our knowledge about the extent of energy poverty in Europe and the measures we can use to combat it.
Energy: Research breakthroughs
Turning agricultural waste by-products into safe, green, clean energy.
Design innovations and new technologies that reduce the construction cost of nuclear reactors.
Podcast: Making solar energy more efficient and cost effective
Solar panels are among the most available systems for generating energy through renewable sources due to their relative cost and consumer availability. However, the majority of solar cells only achieve 20% efficiency. Now an international team of researchers has resolved a key fundamental issue which limits and degrades solar cell efficiency. The problem has been studied for more than 40 years, with more than 270 research papers attributed to the issue with no solution. In this podcast Tony Peaker, Matthew Halsall and Iain Crowe discuss their research and what led to this first observation of a previously unknown material defect which limits silicon solar cell efficiency and the potential economic benefits.
Research paper: ‘Identification of the mechanism responsible for the boron oxygen light induced degradation in silicon photovoltaic cells’ by Michelle Vaqueiro-Contreras, Vladimir P. Markevich, José Coutinho, Paulo Santos, Iain F. Crowe, Matthew P. Halsall, Ian Hawkins, Stanislau B. Lastovskii, Leonid I. Murin, Anthony R. Peaker, published in the Journal of Applied Physics. DOI: 10.1063/1.5091759
Cutting industrial greenhouse gas emissions
Our life cycle carbon calculations are helping companies cut their emissions.
Life extension for UK nuclear reactors
Our nuclear graphite academics have helped the Office of Nuclear Regulation increase the lifespan of nuclear reactors.
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.
Our academics, researchers, collaborators and partners have access to a comprehensive range of state-of-the-art and bespoke experimental equipment and powerful computing infrastructure to help them deliver ground-breaking R&D. Facilities include the Dalton Cumbrian Facility (part of the National Nuclear User Facility and offering the world’s highest energy dual ion beam accelerator system), the UK’s largest university high voltage facility, a six-rack RTDS real-time power system simulator, fully-programmable AC grid-connected energy storage system, world-leading X-ray imaging systems and 1MW energy storage test bed, plus facilities at the new Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC). The University campus itself is a living laboratory, with our 339 buildings providing a test bed for tomorrow’s energy systems.
Tyndall Manchester undertakes world-class research to deliver agenda-setting insights on energy and climate change.
Visit the Tyndall Manchester website
Dalton Nuclear Institute
Find out more about our nuclear research expertise.
Visit the Dalton Nuclear Institute website
Download an overview of our energy expertise (PDF document, 1.7MB).
Get an in-depth insight into some of our world-changing energy research.
Key flaw in solar panels solved
Manchester scientists have discovered a previously unknown material defect causing solar panels to perform at only 20% efficiency.
Nuclear industry could be a national treasure – if it tackles these issues
Professor Richard Taylor, BNFL Chair in Nuclear Energy Systems at the University, explains how industry can make its case and forge its future hand in hand with the British public.
UK could be carbon neutral by 2050
Manchester has contributed to a report by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society that says Greenhouse gas removal could make the UK carbon neutral by 2050.
Graphene-laminated pipes could cut corrosion in oil and gas industries
Researchers at The University of Manchester and TWI have discovered ways of using graphene to prolong the lifetime of pipes used in the oil and gas industry.
Expert comment: Why we’re all invested in nuclear energy’s success or failure
Professor Richard Taylor explains why an interdisciplinary approach is long overdue in a sector that has been dominated by rigid regulation and research boundaries.
Research beacons breakthrough ebook
Read our ebook for insights into how Manchester commercialises its world-class academic research.
Download our breakthrough ebook