Dr Sarah Darby

Senior Researcher and Associate Professor, Energy Programme, Environmental Change Institute

Sarah’s main research interests concern the future of electricity systems as socio-technical systems and the prospects for ‘intelligible’ energy services. This involves study of social, behavioural and educational aspects of energy use, including adoption and adaptation of technology by laypeople.

For the Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy, she led the task on ‘Governance of and engagement with the demand side’, analysing demand response options in high-renewable systems at different scales and developing methods to assess demand-side response alongside competing or complementary arrangements. Sarah now leads the evaluation for Project LEO and continues to research the social and organisational aspects of low-carbon transition.

Current and recent research projects

LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire). Major demonstration project to create a local energy marketplace and enable more active network management. Leading on learning and dissemination. Funded by Innovate UK, Apr 2019-Mar 2022.

NEWCOMERS (New clean energy communities in a changing European energy system) is exploring new business models for energy communities, with the aim of drawing up practical recommendations for how EU, national and local governments can support them. PI for Oxford, leading on case studies. Funded by the European Commission (Horizon 2020), June 2019-May 2022

INTEGRATE, the Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy. Addressing the technical, economic and governance challenges of integrating high levels of variable renewable energy sources into electricity systems. Co-I, leading on demand-side issues. Funded by the Oxford Martin School, Oct 2015-Mar 2021

UKERC (UK Energy Research Centre) Theme 5: key challenges in energy decision-making. Working on (1) Understanding energy demand: energy-using practices and energy services; (2) Demand-side response decisions. Funded by the Research Councils’ UK Energy Programme, Jan 2015-2019

RealValue (Realising Value from Electricity Markets with Local Smart Electric Thermal Storage Technology). RealValue (Realising Value from Electricity Markets with Local Smart Electric Thermal Storage Technology) Using domestic storage heating in Ireland, Germany and Latvia to benefit households and electricity markets. PI for Oxford contribution, working with Glen Dimplex, Intel, University College Dublin, DIW, RTU, VTT, ESBN, EirGrid, e.on and SSE. Funded by the European Commission (Horizon 2020), June 2015-May 2018