Professor Monica Giulietti

Professor of Microeconomics – Loughborough Business School

Professor Monica Giulietti’s specialism is the economic analysis of energy consumption and energy markets, and she is an expert in the policy and regulatory options necessary to promote a net-zero economy.

An important element of her work explores our behaviour as energy consumers – our understanding of pricing systems and willingness to adopt modern energy technologies. She also examines the case for decentralised energy production and storage and how it could benefit communities worldwide.

Ensuring energy equity

The transition to net zero poses many challenges – not least ensuring that every household has access to reliable and affordable energy. It is essential that everyone – irrespective of age, income, geography – is included as we move to a greener, more sustainably powered future.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7 commits to ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.

Sustainable Development Goal 7

It’s an exciting time for my discipline. We have the opportunity to inform policy decisions around green energy while ensuring that the essential move to sustainability is achieved in a fair and equitable way.

There is a justified hope that technological innovations will drive the transition, but we must address the needs of those who – for whatever reason – are unable to engage with them.

The ongoing discussions in the media – about the affordability of energy bills and our urgent need to decarbonise – really reflect this tension. The energy transition is crucial, but we need to be honest about the costs and challenges ahead.

And, people need to be well informed which isn’t always the case.

Photograph of a technician fitting rooftop solar panels

For example, consumers don’t always engage fully with the energy market, and many can’t make informed choices about their supplier – and which would be best for them. One reason for this is not really knowing how much energy their household uses.

Smart meters and technologies can play an important role in increasing this knowledge – helping people to buy their energy cost effectively while reducing their consumption and carbon footprint. We need to find ways to encourage an increase in technology adoption.

Meanwhile – as recent events demonstrate – there is much work to do in exploring and championing new ways of generating sustainable energy, and energy storage becomes increasingly important as electricity systems decarbonise.

Generation-integrated energy storage (GIES) systems could play an important role in the years ahead – comparing favourably with non-integrated technologies in terms of performance and cost. Yet, their potential has not been fully acknowledged or explored.

It’s an exciting time for my discipline – we have the opportunity to inform policy decisions around green energy while ensuring that the essential move to sustainability is achieved in a fair and equitable way.

Close up photograph of a smart phone controlling domestic energy use

My research argues in favour of increasing funding to support the full development of GIES – and the necessary policy changes to support this activity.

Another recent strand of my work has highlighted the plight of people living in fuel poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a direct correlation between fuel poverty, financial stress and people’s health and wellbeing. Thankfully, the financial support provided during the first lockdown helped many vulnerable households to avoid a worsening of their situation.

It’s therefore important that recovery policies moving on from the pandemic continue to protect people at risk of financial distress and its harmful health impacts. There is a real need for utility debt reform to protect households, suppliers and the economy.

For me – access to clean, affordable and sustainable energy should be democratic and exclude no one. I hope that my work can go some way to help achieve this.

My research journey

I grew up in Italy and studied Politics and Economics at the University of Bologna, graduating in 1987. As a student, I was involved in a number of social justice groups – a hugely formative experience which inflects my work and beliefs still.

When I graduated, I worked for a couple of years – as a Junior Economist with Prometeia – before coming to the UK to continue my studies. I joined the University of Warwick where I completed my Masters and PhD, achieving my doctorate in 1994.

My academic career began at the University of Exeter where I was a lecturer for three years. During the following two decades, I secured promotion and posts at the universities of Aston, Nottingham and Warwick – joining Loughborough in 2015.

Over the years, I have conducted research for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Energy Retail Association, Platts and Western Power Distribution. And, I’m proud that much of my work has been generously supported by so many funding bodies including the ESRC, EPSRC, UKERC and the Levehulme Trust.

I enjoy the intellectual challenge of working in a multidisciplinary environment alongside people whose tangential expertise complements my own. It’s always inspiring to develop innovative perspectives and ways forward – and some of my most productive collaborations have been with current and past PhD students.

I am passionate about nurturing students and younger researchers. I’m the Academic Lead of ERA Skills, Co-Director of Stakeholder Engagement for the Sustainable Hydrogen CDT, and part of C-DICE’s Academic Leadership team. Being part of these programmes allows me to ensure that future generations of experts receive ample opportunities and support to succeed – and continue our progress to net zero.

It’s equally important to me that my own research has real-world impact – helping to inform policy and practice. I have served as an adviser to the Council of European Regulators and the UK Government’s Department of Energy. In addition, I’ve advised – through consultancy work – energy suppliers and distribution companies, including Enel and WPD.

Having established an academic reputation in the energy field, I would like to use my expertise to guide the new generation of researchers and help policymakers and businesses tackle the most pressing environmental challenges of our time.

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