Wind turbines on a cracked earth desert.

EnergyEnvironmental impact

It is almost inconceivable to study energy provision without some consideration of its environmental impacts.

Fundamentally, our research on renewable and lower carbon technologies is based on the premise of harmful climate change resulting from anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from excessive fossil fuel use.

Our diverse research on the environmental impacts of energy systems is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, touching a range of academic disciplines and including staff from each Faculty in the University to answer what are often truly global challenges.

Our work includes the following areas:

  • Processing of carbon-neutral biomass or biobased feedstocks
  • The impact of biofuels on global food production
  • Unconventional fossil fuel reserves and their wider environmental impact
  • Long term nuclear storage
  • Heat and fuel poverty

Can we utilise carbon-neutral biomass or biobased feedstocks without impacting on global food production?

Here we consider sustainable production and transportation, processing & pyrolysis, bio-transformation and utilisation.

Can we safely exploit the UK’s extensive reserves of unconventional hydrocarbons in a way that is socially and environmentally acceptable?

Our experts in conventional oil & gas technologies, carbon-capture and storage and geo-uncertainty are well-placed to develop appropriate protocols and a meaningful evidence-based dialogue with stakeholders.

Can we ensure new-build nuclear is fit for purpose, clean up the existing nuclear sites and ensure the long-term storage of waste is effective?

We are working on innovative grouting solutions and state-of-the-art environmental monitoring solutions for geological repositories.

Can Scotland continue to lead the UK’s conversion to renewable energy, given heat use is roughly twice that of electricity?

Addressing heat poverty and community energy needs combined with technological innovation on energy storage and efficiency can help mitigate the future cost of energy which is now a key aspect of the Scottish Energy Strategy.

These are challenging subject areas, requiring new technology combined with careful discussion with policy makers and society.