Zero Carbon

Zero carbon is one of our six research themes. Our research in this area has both a strategic purpose - informing international, national, and regional policy - and a tactical one: influencing business support projects as well as urban and environmental sustainability initiatives.

Why this research matters

Reducing carbon emissions matters for everyone in today’s global society. The evidence is now overwhelming that climate change is already happening and will get worse in the next few decades. Scientists and policymakers recognise that there is an urgent need to reduce CO2 equivalent emissions to net-zero, to limit the harmful effects of the rise in global temperatures. 

An increasing number of national and local strategies support the adoption of Low Carbon innovation and societal transformation which will also create new economic and industrial opportunities. However, we need to go further with the aim of developing new technologies and focusing on solutions in response to the climate crisis. 

Our vision and approach

While we are all stakeholders in a zero-carbon future, we recognise that our expertise in science, technology and engineering today will be central to developing new and adapted technologies tomorrow. We aim to be a force for positive impact, proactive with the transition to a zero-carbon world and we will inform regional, national and international policy. 

Our approach into zero-carbon research is split into three areas: manufacturing, business and energy; transport and smart cities; and nature-based solutions. By drawing on our own expertise, experience and business networks within these three areas, we are helping organisations adopt new processes, products and systems to grow innovation and unlock new business opportunities. By considering a nature-based solution alongside the other areas, we take into account the challenges the environment and society might have in adapting new technologies. We believe the environment and wider society are central to the solutions, not just passive recipients of the benefits. Our approach also means we can develop new ways of removing carbon from the atmosphere and putting it back into the ground.  

Research theme lead

Christopher Sansom looking up at the solar power water tank - for Zero Carbon
Professor of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and Theme Lead, Zero Carbon

Christopher Sansom is a Professor of CSP (Concentrating Solar Power), and Leads the Zero Carbon Theme, at the University of Derby. After his PhD, he worked in research labs for Plessey, GEC, Marconi, and PerkinElmer, before entering Academia with Cranfield University where he remains a Visiting Professor.

Green Entrepreneurs Programme

We are passionate about working with businesses interested in developing and investing in green energy and carbon reduction schemes and individuals looking to retrain in the first of alternative energy.

Find out more about our programmeFind out more about our programme
the globe

Climate emergency research

Artistic encounters deliver new perspectives on climate emergency: raising awareness of climate change is essential in helping us to change our ways to support the planet. Our researchers have translated their research into public events which place engaging with environmental issues at the heart of the conversation.

Find out more about our climate emergency researchFind out more about our climate emergency research
myths for a wetlands imaginary performance walk

Exploring solutions

Working with partners such as Councils, the Institute of Quarrying and the National Stone Centre, our collaborations investigate and realise new solutions as we work towards achieving carbon reduction targets. Research includes assessing the impact of solar panels on carbon emissions, developing zero-carbon building designs and repurposing batteries from buses into heat sources for housing.

a researcher working by a tunnel
Silhouette of a woman writing an equation on a whiteboard.

Our research students

Find out about some of our postgraduate research students and the projects they are working on.

Our research student profilesOur research student profiles
A diver among coral

Explore our academic themes

Discover our innovation and research across our five other academic themes.

Explore our academic themesExplore our academic themes