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Dr Richard Lowes

Dr Richard Lowes

Research Fellow

 Stella Turk Building Fellows Office


University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, TR10 9FE


Hi, I'm Richard Lowes. I'm a researcher with a passion for sustainable energy and expertise in energy policy particularly around sustainable heating. Following an MSc in Energy Policy, I worked in the energy industry and was responsible for government relations and policy issues at a gas distribution company focusing on the future of heat. Between 2014 and 2021 I was based full time in the University of Exeter's, Energy Policy Group where I have been further developing expertise around clean heating - a hugely important but historically underlooked area of energy.

Currently at Exeter I am PI for the 'Flex-Cool-Store' project but I have now moved to work primarily for NGO the Regulatory Assistance Project on heat decarbonisation.

I have previously taught on the Geography of Cornwall and taught energy policy at undergraduate and masters level. 

I try and make sure my research has a policy impact and as well as engaging with policy makers I have made a number of national and international media appearances. You can learn about the ups and downs of the sector on my @heatpolicyrich twitter account. 

My personal blog and website is here:

A particularly live issue is the debate over the role of electrification or hydrogen for heating, an issue where I have national expertise and have researched in detail

At the 2020 UK Citizens Assembly on Climate Change I was invited to advocate for the importance of heat electrification for net zero goals. A video of my presentation which summarises the heat problem is below.

I am currently a non-executive member of the Scottish Government's heat decarbonisation programme board. I have given oral evidence to select committees and advised the National Audit Office as well as NGOs. 


BSc (Hons) Geography and Environmental Management, University of Exeter, First Class

MSc Energy Policy and Sustainability, University of Exeter, Distinction

PhD in Energy Policy, University of Exeter. Thesis titled: Power and heat transformation policy: Actor influence on the development of the UK’s heat strategy and the GB Renewable Heat Incentive with a comparative Dutch case study.

Research group links

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Research interests

My research is based around the policy and political issues associated with how we move away from an unsustainable high carbon energy system to a clean low carbon energy system. My expertise and passion is around sustainable heat and buildings.

Broad research areas:

  • Energy policy,
  • heat strategy,
  • renewable heat support policies,
  • network regulatory models,
  • infrastructure transitions
  • political power

Research projects


I lead the policy work package of this EPSRC project which is led by Dr Carlos Ugalde-Loo at Cardiff. In this project we are interested in the future of cooling in the UK, policy implications and the role and understanding of policy-makers.


Governance of continuity and change

Principle Investigator: Bridget Woodman

Funding Body: UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC)

This project forms part of UKERC's 4th phase and sits in the 'infrastructure' theme of UKERC. In the project we are investigating the existing governance of certain important elements of UK infrastructure and considering the appropriateness of this governance in light of goals for net-zero. Our case studies are offshore wind, buildings and networks. We expect to take a historic and discursive institutional approach. Completes 2022.

Energy Governance in Northern Ireland

Principle Investigator: Richard Lowes supported by Catherine Mitchell

Funding Body: Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland Executive

In this project I am investigating the unique structure of energy governance in Northern Ireland. My desk based analysis is being augmented with expert interviews in order to consider and how governance may need to change. We will also propose a new model of governance. Completes July 2020.

Policy maker perceptions of heat decarbonisation

Principle Investigator: Bridget Woodman

Funding Body: UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC)

This project investigated the perceptions of policy maker working on UK heat decarbonisation at a time of clear concerns over uncertainty of technology options linked in part to incumbent pressures. This work formed part of the larger UKERC Continuity and Disruptuon project. Completed May 2019.

Heat, Incumbency and Transformations

Principle Investigator: Bridget Woodman

Funding Body: UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC)

I was Research Fellow on this innovative project. The project considered a UK transformation to a 100% sustainable heat system but focussed on the role of incumbent companies. It mapped the current heat regime in the UK investigating who was present in the sector, considered how incumbents may be affected by the transition and then considered the socio-political impacts that these incumbents may have on a potential UK heat transformation. Findings from this project continue to be published. Completed June 2018

More information the project can be found here.


Principle investigator: Poul Erik Morthorst, Technical Universityof Denmark (DTU)

Exeter lead: Profesor Catherine Mitchell

Funding body: Danish Innovation Fund

The FutureGas project was a major multi-disciplinary project investigating the future role of gas in Denmark. The project brought together engineers, mathematicians, social scientists and policy experts from across Europe. Our role in the project was to provide a comparative case study for Denmark, focussing on the UK, using our own expertise of the UK's energy system.

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Journal articles

Harvey-Scholes C, Mitchell C, Britton J, Lowes R (2023). Citizen policy entrepreneurship in UK local government climate emergency declarations. Review of Policy Research, 40(6), 950-971. Abstract.
Gibb D, Rosenow J, Lowes R, Hewitt NJ (2023). Coming in from the cold: Heat pump efficiency at low temperatures. Joule, 7(9), 1939-1942. Abstract.
Khosravi F, Lowes R, Ugalde-Loo CE (2023). Cooling is hotting up in the UK. Energy Policy, 174
Rosenow J, Gibb D, Nowak T, Lowes R (2022). Heating up the global heat pump market. Nature Energy, 7(10), 901-904.
Rosenow J, Lowes R (2021). Will blue hydrogen lock us into fossil fuels forever?. One Earth, 4(11), 1527-1529.
Lowes R, Woodman B (2020). Disruptive and uncertain: Policy makers’ perceptions on UK heat decarbonisation. Energy Policy, 142, 111494-111494.
Lowes R, Woodman B, Speirs J (2020). Heating in Great Britain: an incumbent discourse coalition resists an electrifying future. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 37, 1-17.
Lowes R, Rosenow J, Qadrdan M, Wu J (2020). Hot stuff: Research and policy principles for heat decarbonisation through smart electrification. Energy Research & Social Science, 70, 101735-101735.
Lowes R, Woodman B, Fitch-Roy OWF (2019). Policy change, power and the development of Great Britain's Renewable Heat Incentive. Energy Policy, 131, 410-421. Abstract.
Judson E, Fitch-Roy O, Pownall T, Bray R, Poulter H, Soutar I, Lowes R, Connor P, Britton J, Woodman B, et al (2019). The centre cannot (always) hold: examining pathways towards energy system de-centralisation. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 118 Abstract.
Connor PM, Xie L, Lowes R, Britton J, Richardson T (2015). The development of renewable heating policy in the United Kingdom. Renewable Energy, 75(March 2015), 733-744.


Lowes RJ (2016). Political power and the development of the GB renewable heat incentive. British Institute of Energy Economics. 21st - 22nd Sep 2016.


Lowes R, Mitchell C (2021). Energy governance for the Northern Ireland energy transition. Northern Ireland Executive,  Falmouth, UK.
Lowes R, Rosenow J, Guertler P (2021). Getting on track to net zero: a policy package for a heat pump mass market in the UK., Regulatory Assistance Project.
Rosenow J, Lowes R (2020). Heating without the hot air: Principles for smart heat electrification., Regulatory Assistance Project.
Rosenow J, Lowes R, Broad O, Hawker G, Wu J, Qadrdan M, Gross R (2020). The pathway to net zero heating in the UK. London, UKERC.
Lowes R, Ketsopoulou I, Taylor P, Watson J, Winskel M, Kattirtzi M, Woodman B, Poulter H, Brand C, Killip G, et al (2019). Disrupting the UK energy system: causes, impacts and policy implications.
Watson J, Wu J, Lowes R, Qadrdan M (2019). UKERC Review of Energy Policy 2019.
Lowes RJ, Woodman B (2018). Incumbency and the transformation towards low carbon heating in the UK – Implications for policy.
Watson J, Webb J, Lowes R (2018). UKERC Review of Energy Policy 2018.

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