United Kingdom

Assessing future UK electricity sector transition under different governance pathways

Affordability and costs of an energy transition are often viewed as the most influential drivers. Conversely, multi-level transitions theory argues that governance and the choices of key actors, such as energy companies, government and civil society, drive the transition, not only on the basis of costs. This paper combines the two approaches and presents a cost appraisal of the UK transition to a low-carbon electricity system under alternate governance logics.

Greener Kemnay: Building Collective Confidence

Greener Kemnay is an environmental group in the rural village in Aberdeenshire. The village has nearly 4,000 residents and is located about 20km west of Aberdeen. It was started in 2012 by a handful of village residents who wanted to find ways to reduce energy usage, energy costs and carbon footprint for the whole village. Since 2012 Greener Kemnay has grown to around 12 people who meet regularly once a month to plan projects and discuss how to take the group forward.

Shared Planet

Shared Planet is a student association that operates within the University of Aberdeen. It’s an umbrella for three food projects; “Shared Planet Café” (which sells ethically sourced, volunteer-made meals 5 days a week); the “veg bag” (vegetables bought from a local organic farm and wholesaler, bagged and sold at cost price.) and “The Corner” (ethically-sourced food from a wholesaler in Glasgow sold at cost price). 

Transition Black Isle

Transition Black Isle’s aim is to bring people together to face up to the challenges of climate change and resource depletion and to take practical local action now, rather than wait for top-down government action. Founded in 2009, TBI was inspired by nearby Transition Town Forres and is closely linked to the global Transition Network. They have around 140 members across the dispersed population of 10,000 spread across the small towns and villages of the Black Isle. Transition Black Isle has initiated a number of projects covering food, energy and transport.

Comrie Development Trust

In 2006, nearly three quarters of the 1800 residents of Comrie, in rural Perthshire, turned out to vote for the purchase of nearby Cultybraggan Army Camp, and form a Development Trust (CDT) to manage its affairs for the benefit of the community. The Trust was formed and within a year £350k (€450k) was raised through loan finance.

The UK mobility system

This study applies the Multi Level Perspective (MLP) on the UK mobility system. It combines niche and regime analyses to assess the feasibility of a transition in the UK mobility system. For this, the following niches are considered: hybrid electric vehicles, battery-electric vehciles, inter-modal ticketing, car-sharing, biofuels, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, urban cycling/sharing, and compact cities. The regime analysis is broken down into the following regimes: automobility, railway, bus, and cycling.

The UK heating system

This study applies the Multi Level Perspective (MLP) on the UK heat system. It combines niche and regime analyses to assess the feasibility of a transition in the UK heat system. For this, the following niches are considered: heat pumps, smart heating controls and meters, small-scale biomass, solar thermal, district heating, and low-energy retrofits. The regime analysis is broken down into heating and housing. 

The UK electricity system

This study applies the Multi Level Perspective (MLP) on the UK electricity system. It combines niche and regime analyses to assess the feasibility of a transition in the UK electricty system. For this, the following niches are considered: solar PV, on- and offshore wind, bioenergy, CFL/LED lighting, and smart meters. The regime analysis is broken down into the electricity generation regime, the electricity consumption regime and the electricity network regime.

Decentralised renewable energy: Brixton Energy

This case study is about local community renewable energy in the UK, with particular focus on innovative individual initiatives and their link to a nascent community energy niche. Specifically, the case study focuses on the initiative Brixton Energy, which has been creating and managing “cooperatively owned renewable energy projects”, including the UK’s first inner-city renewable energy co-operatives.

Local food production: Capital growth

Capital Growth began as a campaign to create 2,012 new food-growing spaces across London in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and received direct support from the Mayor of London, the Greater London Authority, and the Big Lottery’s Local Food Programme. The initiative exceeded its target and managed to support almost 3,000 unique food-growing spaces. After reaching this peak level, however, the number has dwindled.

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