About

The ZERO (Zero-carbon Energy Research Oxford) Institute brings together researchers from across the University of Oxford to tackle questions surrounding zero-carbon energy systems, elevating Oxford as a centre of research excellence and leadership on the zero-carbon transition. 

The task to get to a zero-carbon energy system is urgent. Over 70% of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate heating come from the conversion and use of energy. The transition to a zero-carbon energy system is therefore critical for establishing a stable climate.

Research aims

Our partnership approach across University of Oxford departments and external organisations is designed to identify strategic needs, amplify existing research and accelerate innovative solutions for a zero-carbon energy system.

Our work augments University of Oxford’s existing research, adding three main research areas to ensure the University has strength in depths across all components of transition to a just zero-carbon energy system. 

Zero-carbon space heating & cooling

We are looking at how space heating and cooling can be electrified or shifted to other zero carbon fuels through changes in design, efficiency and social practices of both buildings and conversion devices. In particular, we are developing research strengths in the areas of passive cooling and heat pumps, which have been marginal in energy research, but are becoming central with the need to decarbonise the largest global use of energy.

Research is led by the School of Geography and Engineering Science departments.

Zero-carbon energy conversion

We are exploring the use of non-carbon fuels in applications that cannot be electrified and for long-term storage. In particular, we are developing research strengths in fuels cells and electrolysis, which are critical to the inter-conversion of electricity and hydrogen.

Research is led by the Materials department.

Zero-carbon energy use

We are asking how the transition to zero-carbon can be enabled by improving energy efficiency and reducing energy demand. In particular, we are designing and implementing projects on global energy demand and how reductions in energy use can be achieved whilst delivering the services people need.

Research is led by the School of Geography and Engineering Science departments.

Complementary initiatives

Oxford Net Zero

We share our mission with Oxford Net Zero in bringing researchers together to elevate the University of Oxford as a centre of research excellence and leadership on the zero-carbon transition.

The Oxford Net Zero (ONZ) initiative addresses the critical issue of how to reach global ‘net-zero’ in time to halt global warming, drawing on Oxford’s world-leading expertise in climate science and policy. ONZ is tracking progress, aligning standards and informing effective solutions to limit the cumulative net total CO2 in the atmosphere, and providing an integrated view of the scientific, ecological, economic and social challenges through engagement with business, and national and international policy makers.

At the ZERO Institute, we focus on the urgent task of transitioning to a zero-carbon energy system. Working in partnership with external organisations we provide knowledge, tools and techniques to accelerate the transition to a just zero-carbon energy system.

Oxford Energy Network

The Oxford Energy Network provides network services for researchers across the university who are working to address the major technical, social, economic and policy challenges of providing secure, affordable and sustainable energy for all. It organises term-time seminars, with topical speakers examining energy research and practice. The ZERO Institute is a member of the Oxford Energy Network.

How are we funded?

We have secured a £3.25m investment from the University of Oxford’s Strategic Research Fund (SRF).