Nicola Hole
Research Fellow


Research interests

I am particularly interested in the role people can play in the transition to a low carbon future and the way in which this can benefit the energy system and the lifestyles of individuals and communities. My previous work has investigated individuals’ relationship to, and behaviours within, energy, food and water systems. In particular, my PhD investigated the ways in which (energy) policy making needs to become more focussed on individuals, arguing that retaining demand reduction policies within the traditional confines of energy policy making limits the possibilities these policies offer in lowering overall energy demand. I believe that by placing individuals at the heart of the energy system and building it in a way that works most effectively for both the individual and the environment, there is far more likelihood in creating a society that is made up of increasingly active participants who are accepting of new energy structures and different forms of engagement with energy use. This requires a greater understanding of how energy is situated in everyday lives, and how policy making can facilitate lower carbon lifestyles. Without this, there is a risk that the current transition to a smart, dynamic and embedded energy system will fall short of its potential. 

Research projects

Nicola is currently working on the 4 year SIM4NEXUS project. SIM4NEXUS considers five distinct, vitally important themes: Water, Energy, Land, Food, Climate and aims to predict society-wide impacts of resource use and relevant policies on sectors such as agriculture, water, biodiversity and ecosystem services through a model-based analysis of the nexus. Within this project Nicola is undertaking a case study within the SW of England that aims to understand the way in which governance has the ability to constrain and restrict the move towards a more sustainable, smart, flexible energy system. The ever-changing energy landscape – with the falling cost of both renewables and energy storage – means that new forms of governance and regulation are vital and can enable people to connect to their energy (and their personal energy consumption and potentially production). Governance has an important role to play in giving value to those dimensions that provide flexible and smart operation rather than those that undermine it and such a shift can create an energy system which has society and the individual energy user at the centre.

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