Iain Soutar

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  • CLIMATE CHANGE and EMISSION REDUCTION is an ENERGY CHALLENGEEmission reduction target of 80% by 205020% by 2020110bn – more than double current rate of investment (75 for generation, 35 for transmission/distribution)In Next decade, we are to lose quarter of current capacity (ageing closures and environmental regulation)Energy system is significant contributorto emissions – problem as well as potential solution2007 White Paper – Meeting the Energy ChallengeSystem wide – decisions about supply and demand will have technological, environmental, economic, social implicationsHuge decisions, and trade offs to be made – decarbonising supply or focusing on demand reduction?Scale: decisions will be costly (infrastructure, restructuring elsewhere, learning process). Which decisions are made will have different costs (economic as well as environmental and social)
  • Themes align towards 2 challenges ageing infrastructure emission reduction energy security
  • Paradigmas dominant political economic framework; political light touch, markets choose regulation favoursinflexible operation of fossil and nuclear rather than intermittent generation Output cannot be predicted (and therefore traded) with same accuracy that conventional fuels can. Sell output on longer-term contracts, trade little intra-dayUneven playing field - makes it difficult for possible solutions to compete with the established norms In liberalised markets, companies should in theory pay full cost of decisionsEmissions have impacts – climate change and healthCompanies should theoretically pay the full cost of their investmentsInstead these costs are borne by society. Lock-inCoevolution of technological networks and social structures that support them.Current suppliers (esp vertically integrated) additionally incentivised to block entry of renewables if takes market share from conventionalTechnological infrastructures, organizations, society and governing organizations = self reinforcing barriers to change 3. Unlikely that traditional focus on short termist cost efficient approaches are suitable for a social issue.Inertia: Current setup makes change difficult. Six companies have between 96 and 99% of the domestic electricity supply marketRecent Bloomberg report: only Scottish Power have built only RE since 2005. SSE spent 2/3 of its investments on RE, mostly wind
  • Bloomberg NEF report 20125 years from 2006
  • SMALL SCALE – KIT AND PEOPLE/INSTITUTIONSPURPOSEFULLY AVOIDING THE USE OF DECENTRALISED ENERGY/COMMUNITY ENERGYFOCUS: TOP DOWN (POLICIES AND INCENTIVES) AND BOTTOM UP (INCOME, DEMOCRACY, ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENTS, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT)COSTS LEARNING AS WE GOPreliminary accreditation for community solarNo obligation for energy efficiency requirement on non domestic buildings
  • BenefitsEconomic– employment lauded as a driver for renewable industry – dependent on technology and timescales.Social: conventional fossil fuel can be thought of as having external cost of disengagement. Community energy seeks to internalise thisCostsInnovation and learning needed for economies of scale; Centralised energy benefited from long history of technological learningA lot of (particularly positive) aspects are intangible, so difficult to monetise
  • Role of small scale not in economic terms, but in social terms associated with energy policy objectivesWhat indicators are important?Trade off between many comprehensive, and focusFrameworkIf some of the attributes are difficult to monetise, how else can they be considered?
  • Niches provide seeds for change; niche supporters aim to have their innovation selected and embedded in regime.Institutional,organisational, economic and cultural ‘entrenchment’ of incumbent regimeMicro, meso, macro levels
  • Iain Soutar

    1. 1. What role for small-scale energy?Understanding the value of challenging large-scale lock-inIain SoutarUniversity of ExeterApril 2013
    2. 2. Outline Context: the energy challenge the growth of small scale Sociotechnical change theory WREN: A case study of change
    3. 3. The big three challenges Emission reduction targets essentially an energychallenge c. 75% of GHG emissions from energy Renewing electricity infrastructure c. £110bn by 2020 Energy security Demand as well as supply issueScale and immediacy of challenges is unprecedented
    4. 4. Several possible pathways Whichever path we take will have implications for meeting(each part of) energy challenge Several common themes Decarbonise electricity With implications for generation, supply network etc Demand must play a role People as well as infrastructures A system-wide approach is necessary Technological, economic, societal and institutional restructuring Large, expensive decisions Energy as a social issue Trade-offs inevitable
    5. 5. The real energy challenge Political-economic paradigm drives inertia Regulation favours norm Technological and institutional lock-in Neuhoff‟s uneven playing field Current system unable to correct for externalities Alternative frameworks may bemore appropriate We can do it…If we want toThe difficulty lies,not with the new ideas,but in escaping the old onesJohn Maynard Keynes
    6. 6. ELEC OF ENERGY
    7. 7. Is small beautiful?„Small-scale energy‟: to describe infrastructure,processes and actors involved in deploying de-centralized energy Increasing interest/focus on small-scale energy Top down Feed in Tariff, LCCC Bottom up Transition groups, energy activism
    8. 8. Is small beautiful? Perceived benefits/value: Environmental (minimal relative external costs) Economic (employment; green growth; resilience) Social (citizenship versus consumerism; internalizing benefitof engagement) Costs High, though diminishing capitalcosts Risks (siting, resource variability,compatibility) Possible limitations in scaling up
    9. 9. Research objectives1. How can we start to understand the whole-systemaspects of small scale energy?(so what is important??)2. Through what kind of framework can value beunderstood?
    10. 10. WREN: A case study of change Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network(WREN) Target of providing 30% of electricity demandfrom local RE sources Observing WREN as they attempt to initiatetransition process Establishment of a baseline datasetcharacterizing local energy system Develop understanding of how energy systemevolves, and implications for economics,society and environment Dearth of empirical studies on transitiondynamics
    11. 11. Methods1. Establish baseline of Wadebridge‟s energy system Primary and secondary data Quant/qual social survey Cross-sectional snapshot2. Establish sociotechnical „narratives‟ as a way ofunderstanding and communicating data Focused interviews with key stakeholders Contextualising data Situating data in wider system, and alongside widersocietal objectives
    12. 12. Indicators, as “thriftily selected data assumed to have a causal relationship witha theoretical concept” (Vos et al, 1984)• Resourcee.g. Supply types & quantities produced & consumed• Economice.g. Monetary costs and benefits of supply and consumption• Sociale.g. Engagement; value-added practices• Environmentale.g. Emissions avoided; compatibility with other activities• Contextuale.g. Geographic, demographic, macroeconomicAlignment of indicators with objectives(income – housing stock – fuel poverty -Establishing a baseline
    13. 13. IndicatordataIndustry/Technologye.g. Aretechnologies:Available?Established?Effective?Reliable?Economics/marketse.g. Are REinvestments:Feasible?Risky?Over whattimescales?Society/culturee.g. Is society:Engaged?Accepting?Willing?Able?Policye.g. Is policy:Enabling?Supportive?Consistent?Equitable?Narratives ofdomainsResource/energy; Economic; Social; EnvironmentalCurrent energy system(regime)Small-scale energy(niche)
    14. 14. Thank youi.soutar@exeter.ac.uk
    15. 15. The value of evidence Big energy decisions necessarily political Profound economic and social consequences What type of evidence is most useful, and to whom? Value of evidence may be limited Energy is complex, difficult to model An optimum pathway? Disagreement over objectives We can do it…if we want to
    16. 16. Socio-technical transition context Contexualising within specific contexts Theoretical framing• Technologicaldevelopment is product oftech and society• Co-evolution oftechnology, society,economics, politics• Small-scale energy as a„niche‟ – potentiallymoving to becomeembedded in regime

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