David Barns


After a decade of working in the public and private sectors I returned to academic study in 2013 when I undertook an MSc in Renewable Energy Development from the International Centre for Island Technology hosted by Heriot-Watt University in the Orkney Islands. I was awarded the annual prize for my dissertation exploring the development of urban community energy projects in the UK.

Following this I spent three years working on a range of low carbon heating, energy storage and renewables projects for a high-profile London borough. Through these I contributed to the organisation’s ambitious carbon reduction targets of 40% by 2020 from 2005 levels, whilst tackling fuel poverty and improving the quality of life for residents.

Research interests

My project will explore how thermal storage can help to unlock the decarbonisation of heat in cities.

Over two-thirds of global energy is used in cities and a radical transformation is required in the provision of energy if we are to meet the deep carbon emissions reductions required to prevent catastrophic global warming. To date much attention has been paid to addressing these challenges within the electricity system; however, production of heat accounts for more than 50% of global final energy consumption and this sector is arguably one of the most challenging to decarbonise.

Thermal energy storage has the potential to play a central role in reducing carbon emissions of cities worldwide and I will be exploring this through the application of interdisciplinary methods which recognise the importance and interaction of social, technological, economic and environmental aspects of complex urban energy systems.


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