Posted inOxford News

Oxford Announces ZERO Institute For Zero-Carbon Energy Systems

Guy Ward-Jackson reports.

Last week Oxford University announced the launch of the ZERO Institute, which aims to tackle the challenges posed by a global transition to zero-carbon energy. Achieving zero-carbon demands the adoption of new technologies and infrastructure. However, the research to be carried out by ZERO will also focus on the new business models, policies, and social transformations needed to compensate for this.

Professor Patrick Grant, Oxford’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, summarised that, “The university is rising to the challenge of zero-carbon energy systems by investing in the ZERO Institute to help coordinate and increase the reach of our ever growing zero-carbon energy research”.

ZERO’s team will include over 200 researchers and leading academics from over 20 departments and is based on the University’s ample facilities. The Institute has secured an initial £3.25 million investment from the University’s Strategic Research Fund (SRF). With more than 70% of greenhouse gases currently stemming from the conversion and use of energy, Professor Malcolm McCulloch (Department of Engineering Science) predicts that “the zero-carbon transition will be a change of the same magnitude as the Industrial Revolution”.

However, research must not only be directed towards the science, but also the social aspects. As Professor Nick Eyre (of the Environmental Change Institute) points out, energy change “is closely associated with social change”. Eyre argues that, if we are to deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we must be prepared for changing energy practices worldwide, which in turn “implies major challenges for governance”. 

Cambridge University  set up its own version of the Institute — Cambridge Zero — back in November 2019.