Research Areas: Energy and Environment
EU energy and climate targets require through various policy mechanisms an increase in energy efficiency and in renewable energy and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Fuel switching away from carbon intensive fuels such as peat and coal to less carbon intensive fuels such as gas or renewables is one way we can contribute to meeting national binding policy targets. This research focuses on the residential sector, where our understanding of fuel choice behaviour is very limited. Many households that are currently heavily reliant on peat, coal, or oil have the option to connect to mains gas but choose not to do so even though it would be financially advantageous for them to do so. The research will identify socio-economic characteristics associated with a reluctance to switch to mains gas. It will also identify early/late adopters of mains gas after it becomes available in an area. This information will be useful in developing strategies to increase the number of residential gas connections. The impacts of this will be to contribute to increasing energy efficiency, reducing residential GHG emissions and improving air quality (switching from oil and coal and thus reducing airborne particulates) and to lower average consumer gas costs (through increased gas network utilisation). The outputs may also be used to address energy poverty through a targeted approach of gas connection in combination with retrofitting. This research is being undertaken in collaboration with colleagues at the Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork and is jointly funded by the Gas Innovation Group and the Science Foundation Ireland's (SFI) MaREI - Marine Renewable Energy Ireland research cluster.
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