Energy, society and place

SEE hosts one of the largest groups of geographers studying energy issues within a single university anywhere in the world. Most of our research activities in this domain take place under the auspices of the Energy, Society and Place Research Unit

Our key areas of expertise include:

  • ‘Energy justice’ as it relates to fuel poverty and energy vulnerability;
  • The configuration of energy demand in households and communities;
  • Behavioural change and collective action;
  • Low carbon homes, communities and cities, within the context of housing refurbishments, retrofitting and the adoption of micro-renewables; 
  • The political economy and geopolitics of energy flows and energy infrastructures (locally, nationally, internationally)

We draw on a wide range of research methods, from ethnographies and focus groups to the use of GIS and thermal imaging equipment. Even though our empirical research is theoretically grounded, we are strongly involved in influencing policy. Our group has provided expert advice to the European Union and various governments around the world, having also worked together with a range of charitable organisations in this sector. As a result, our work has both a UK and a strong international focus: we have on-going active research links with Russia, China, India, the US, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands and France.

We are an active part of the ‘Energy in Birmingham‘ initiative – a thriving community of over a hundred academics, who engage in collaborative research in energy issues both at home and across the globe.

Among other facilities, ESPRU maintains a thermal sensing lab that is used for research- and teaching-related purposes.



Energy security: the importance of energy research in the UK


Dr Stefan Bouzarovski, co-ordinator of the Energy, Society and Place Research Unit discusses energy security. He explains what the term 'energy security' means, talks about the "difficult decisions" we'll have to make over the coming decades in terms of our energy future, and discusses whether energy-rich states can (and do) use energy as a strategic weapon by cutting off or withholding supplies to their consumers.


Listen to podcast (MP3 - 13.0MB)


Read full transcript (Word doc 93KB)