This overseas travel grant application seeks to fund some travel for a five and a half month research trip to the University of Toronto. Energy Systems and Engineering are vital to our daily living, but the generation of power for heating, electricity and vehicles propulsion has environmental impacts. This project links research into Energy and Environmental Analysis, particularly related to bioenergy and resource management, in the UK and Canada.
The research will build on the applicant's current research in LCA, bioenergy and energy planning. Emerging energy technologies and resources provide new challenges: can they provide our energy needs, and where will the resultant impact be? As we see with fossil fuels, the impact can be delayed in time (temporal variation) and can vary widely in spatial terms (extraction emissions occur in one place, and localised pollutants occur in another). LCA has become a tool widely used by policy makers in the energy industry, but it is still a somewhat blunt instrument for the job. Generally LCA impacts are amalgamated over time and therefore treated and reported as a single impact at one point in the life cycle of the product or system; the distribution of resource use and emissions over time is lost. Some researchers have begun to look at more dynamic modelling, for example, combining instantaneous and cumulative radiative forcing of GHG over time but none have linked this dynamic modelling across a wide range of inputs and outputs. None have looked at how these impacts, looked at in the wider system of commodity production and emissions can help us plan when impacts occur in order to minimise impact.
The aim of the project is threefold:
1. To gather data to produce:
a. Energy and carbon balances and life cycle assessments of shale gas as it could be used in the UK.
b. Potential Impact of localised emissions associated with bioenergy (and in the longer term, vehicles)
c. Guidance on global policy and GHG accounting methods for resource management
2. To build novel research approaches in energy and resource planning, to develop:
a. A dynamic life cycle emissions model (to be developed into a further grant application)
b. An Energy Planning Framework (again to be developed into a further grant application)
3. Exchange knowledge with, and learn from colleagues at with the aim to build lasting research and teaching relationships with opportunities for further exchange at the PhD and post graduate level:
a. The Institute for Sustainable Energy, University of Toronto, and especially the main contact, Prof Heather McLean
b. The Athena Sustainable Materials Institute
c. The Canadian Energy Research Institute