Lead academic: Professor Ian Cotton

Further information: Manchester Energy

This theme has the strategic aim to respond to the challenge of low-carbon energy supply by coordinating expertise in generation technologies, power systems and energy conversion, sensors, control systems and communications. Achievements include strategic research partnerships with National Grid and Electricity North West and a partnership with the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities to support the transition to a low-carbon future through joint work in areas including the electrification of heat. A multi-centre project is supporting the development of advanced energy-storage systems including those based on graphene technology and work with a consortium of other Universities is developing the technologies required for offshore renewables through Supergen Wind.

As nations move to low carbon energy, electricity plays an increasingly important role. The Low Carbon Transition Plan sets out the steps by which the UK will move to a low carbon energy mix. An essential part of this plan is the need for the UK electricity system to transport larger quantities of electrical energy supporting the electrification of heating and the predicted growth in electric vehicles. The electricity system will also be required to support sources of generation such as wind turbines which are intermittent. These issues combine to mean the electricity system is facing a period of change that has not been seen in the UK for decades. Generation must increase in both efficiency and reliability - work in areas such as solar is supporting this need as we attempt to develop more efficient solar cells.

At the heart of the transformation of energy sources and transport will be sensors, control systems and communications that will allow the existing electricity infrastructure to be used more effectively. Customers will be asked to change their demand according to the available generation, assets will be monitored to detect impending failure and overhead lines will be operated dynamically to maximise their capability these are all features of the smart grid.

With access to a bespoke monitoring system installed on the University's own high voltage network and involvement in a number of major research projects, there are significant opportunities for teaching and research in this area.

Energy is one of The University of Manchester's research beacons.

Research beacons are examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet.

Read more about the research beacons


We have numerous staff who work in the energy field. The academic staff, separated by sector are as follows. These staff work alongside over 100 researchers including PhD students and research assistants.

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