David Barns

David Barns



I am a Postgraduate Researcher in the final stages of completing my doctoral studies on the role of thermal storage in the energy transition. I’m currently employed as a Research Assistant on a policy engagement project in the School of Earth & Environment.

Throughout my career I have combined professional roles in the public and private sector with further academic study to advance my knowdge and understanding around the defining challenge of our time, tackling the climate and ecological emergency. Prior to taking up this postgraduate study I spent three years working on a range of low carbon heating, energy storage and renewables projects for a high-profile London borough. Alongside my academic and professional work I am an active campaigner on issues of climate and social justice. 

The policy engagement project I am currently working on combines my postgraduate research findings with academic work from several other teams within the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University on the topic of shared ground heat exchange. These are net-zero compliant heating systems based around distributed heat pumps to supply ground-sourced heat to multiple households. They may be able to play a significant role in addressing the decarbonisation of heat, but are yet to be fully recognised by national and local policymakers and practitioners. Through engagement and collaboration with stakeholders from across the industry, this project will develop proposals to support the translation of national goals around the decarbonisation of heat and buildings into local and regional plans and policies which will support deployment. 


Research interests

My postgraduate research has focused on the role of thermal energy storage in urban heat decarbonisation. Alongside a detailed investigation of technological options, taking an interdisciplinary sociotechnical approach I have explored aspects of national policy and regulation, the role of local government and the planning system, development of new business models to support viability, and role of organisational actors in the energy transition. 


  • MSc Renewable Energy Development, ICIT, Heriot-Watt University, 2013-2014
  • BSc Management & International Relations, Lancaster University, 2001-2004