What is it about?

This is the first issue of 2020 in which the 'Proc. Instn Civil. Engrs: Energy' journal under the new ‘strapline’ of ‘Transition pathways in the era of climate change’. This reflects the emphasis on climate change mitigation or adaptation recently adopted by the Editorial Advisory Panel. It seeks to also stressed the so-called energy policy ‘trilemma’: reconciling the requirements for energy services that are low carbon, secure and affordable.

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Why is it important?

In November 2019 the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) summarised the state of the global climate in an important publication. They observed that 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record, and that 2015–2018 were the four warmest years on record as part of a continuing long-term warming trend. Average global temperature reached approximately 1°C above pre-industrial levels. They noted that measurements of the atmospheric content of radiocarbon confirm the dominant role of fossil fuel combustion in increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide [CO2; the dominant ‘greenhouse gas’ (GHG) with an atmospheric residence time of about 100 years]. Ocean heat content is currently at a record high, and extreme weather events are having significant impacts on human lives on every continent and are limiting the search for sustainable development. Global mean sea levels are continuing to rise with the extent of Arctic and Antarctic sea-ice well below average. The WMO contend that humanity is not on track to meet climate change targets, and thereby restrict atmospheric temperature increases to 1.5-2°C as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement. In the light of the climate challenge, this journal therefore encourages contributions that address energy production, storage and use in the context of a pathway towards net-zero GHG emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement.


The present issue reflects both energy supply-side and demand-side contributions. The first paper is a supply-side by Xiao et al. (2019) based in China. It provides an analysis of the supercritical organic Rankine cycle (ORC) employed for low-grade waste heat appraisal for a system using four working fluids. ORC systems are well suited for heat conversion technologies supplied by renewable energy resources. The authors have evaluated the thermo-economic characteristic of a supercritical ORC for use with a power plant fuelled by low-temperature waste. They determined the optimal combination of working fluids and process conditions, as well as the savings in petroleum and reductions in CO2 emissions (found to be proportional to the temperature). The second article in this issue is related to a demand-side issue: the determination of the optimal location of cooling and heating appliances by Pezeshki et al. (2020) from Iran. They have used the Taguchi method developed by Genichi Taguchi [a Japanese engineer and statistician (1924-2012)] originally to improve the quality of manufactured goods, and more recently also applied to engineering, biotechnology, marketing and advertising. The Taguchi approach employs a special set of arrays called ‘orthogonal arrays’. The primary goal is to keep the variance in the output very low even in the presence of significant noise in the inputs. Pezeshki et al. (2020) have adapted the Taguchi method for the purposes of building energy modelling (EM) and optimisation to predict the best location for heating and cooling appliances in one of the units of the Toos Arman Star Apartment Hotel located in Mashhad, Iran. The building coordinates (X, Y, and Z) and other major factors give rise to an ‘orthogonal array’ in the Taguchi experiments. The authors have tried to maximise the satisfaction of building residents by defining a fitness function approaching the thermal comfort condition of 25°C. Thus, the experimental results identified the successful location for cooling and heating appliances compared to the initial design of targeted room.

Professor Emeritus Geoffrey P Hammond
University of Bath

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This page is a summary of: Editorial, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Energy, February 2020, ICE Publishing, DOI: 10.1680/jener.2020.173.1.1.
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