There is an increasing sense of urgency about the global energy system transition. For many observers an urgent energy transition is also a necessarily disruptive one, in that it is only by radically remaking energy systems that an accelerated transition to low carbon and sustainable energy can be achieved.
Closer to home, there has been substantial progress in some parts of the energy system in the decade since the passing of the UK and Scottish Climate Change Acts. Other areas have shown little sign of change, and the transition ahead may well be more disruptive and intrusive than that seen so far. At the same time, there is also an emerging counter-narrative: that repurposing our existing energy assets (physical and social) offers the best and quickest transition path, since there is insufficient time to disrupt and remake.
Attending energyevents and keeping up-to-date with emerging evidence can instil a sense of different experts talking past each other. For those involved in whole systems energy research, and working at the research-policy interface, this can be deeply frustrating. To help address this, UKERC – working with ClimateXChange (CXC), Scotland’s Centre of Expertise on Climate Change – has spent two years analysing disruption and continuity in the UK energy system.
As part of that work, we surveyed around 130 experts and stakeholders about disruption and continuity-led change in the UK energy transition. The experts were mostly UK based researchers working on ‘whole systems’ research projects, but also included policymakers, advisory bodies, think tanks, businesses (old and new) and civil society organisations. This report presents the results of this survey work.