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Reference Number NE/H013598/1
Title UNderstanding LOcal and Community Governance of Energy (UNLOC).
Status Completed
Energy Categories RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES 50%;
ENERGY EFFICIENCY(Residential and commercial) 50%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields SOCIAL SCIENCES (Politics and International Studies) 50%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Sociology) 50%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Policy and regulation) 25%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Consumer attitudes and behaviour) 25%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Technology acceptance) 25%;
Other (Energy technology information dissemination) 25%;
Principal Investigator Dr Y Mulugetta
No email address given
Centre for Environmental Strategy
University of Surrey
Award Type R&D
Funding Source NERC
Start Date 01 July 2010
End Date 30 June 2012
Duration 24 months
Total Grant Value £373,049
Industrial Sectors No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Region South East
Programme UKERC Research Fund, Environmental Risks and Hazards, Global Change, Natural Resource Management
 
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr Y Mulugetta , Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey (99.996%)
  Other Investigator Prof NJ (Nick ) Eyre , Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford (0.001%)
Dr Y (Yael ) Parag , Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford (0.001%)
Professor T (Tim ) Jackson , Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey (0.001%)
Dr MD (Michael ) Peters , Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey (0.001%)
Web Site
Objectives

The proposed project aims to develop a robust understanding of evolving patterns of energy governance at the local and community levels. It will demonstrate how grassroots organizations, local government initiatives and national-scale activities interact to create new political space and dynamics for active citizen engagement in both energy demand reduction and deployment of distributed energygeneration.

Specific objectives of the research include:

  • To develop an improved understanding of the governance and institutional changes needed to provide a supportive framework for local actors to play a key role in the change to a low carbon society;
  • To provide an assessment of the role of local government and its future direction in the context of the government’ s low carbon transition plan, and synthesise relevant lessons from best practice and past experience in local energy initiatives;
  • To explore the evolving nature of the relationship between state (including local government) and non-state actors and examine the potential for reciprocal learning and shared operational benefits;
  • To examine the role of loca l finance and institutional opportunities in supporting local non-state initiatives as an important instrument to influencing local energy governance.
Abstract

The UK commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 will require a systemic change in the way energy is converted and used. The exclusive reliance on large-scale centralised production technologies is seen by many as incompatible with the changes needed to meet the twin challenges of climate change and energy security. Action at local and community levels will be needed inenergy demand reduction efforts, improvements in energy efficiency and deployment of micro- and community scale generation. Indeed, there is a growing trend to push for increased local accountability for CO2 emissions, renewable energy targets and fuel poverty, and this is driving energy activities at local government level. Alongside these trends are also activities by non-state actors, often aimed at challenging ‘mainstream’ social practices and seeking to address perceived failures of the formal governance structures. There is a need to understand how these emerging and evolving informal governance structures may interact with (and influence) formal structures.

This proposal brings together a multidisciplinary team to research these new,more diverse formsof local energy governance. The project partnership consists of two leading UK universities (Surrey and Oxford) in the fields of energy research, environmental policy and sustainable behaviour studies. The partnership extends to key local government and non-governmental organisations who will assist in providing the evidence for understanding the trends in local energy governance and how theyareinfluenced by changing public awareness and policy.

The project aims to demonstrate how grassroots organizations, local government initiatives and national-scale activities interact to create new political opportunities for active citizen engagement in both energy demand reduction and deployment of local energy generation.

The project is structured around 3 work packages:

Firstly, the work will evaluate the opportunities and constraints faced by local government in delivering their energy and low carbon targets. It will explore the rationale behind local authority involvement in energy, and the process of change that has (or not) taken place in local authorities as a result of evolving national policy and public pressure. Part of this exercise will involve exploring the relationship between local energy governance and other areas of local government responsibility (e.g. planning and transport), as well as the extent to which the voluntary sector and others have shaped the path taken by local authorities.

Secondly, drawing from the existing literature and case studies, the project will use political science theory to map out the role, power andinteractions of different actors in local energy governance. This will explore the evolving nature of the relationship between state (local government) and non-state (grassroots) actors, and the motivations behind the formation of certain types of ‘coalitions’ around specific energy issues.

Thirdly, the project will break new research ground in looking closely at the currentand potential role of local finance to support new energy initiatives. It will evaluate the range of such finance schemes in the UK (and internationally) against criteria such as relevance to energy activities, cost effectiveness and flexibility in design to support vulnerable groups. This will include examination of the interplay between nationally driven programmes (e.g. Warm Front and energy supplier obligations) and local finance.

We will publish four reports which will form the basis for papers to conferences of academic and energy practitioners; academic journal articles; and a series of policy briefings for local and national policymakers. There will also be a final workshop aimed at providing key messages from the research for stakeholders, including local government decision makers, voluntary organisations in the sustainable energy sector and providers of finance.

Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 13/10/10