This Consortium aims to carry out the Mission agreed at the Sandpit, i.e. To undertake socially and scientifically engaged research into innovative technologies, policies and practices leading towards a low carbon energy system , by addressing three Research Challenges: (a) to learn from past transitions to help explore future transitions and what might enable or avoid them; (b) to design and evaluate transition pathways towards alternative socio-technical energy systems and infrastructures for a low carbon future; and (c) to understand and where appropriate model the changing roles, influences and opportunities of large and small 'actors' in the dynamics of transitions.Whilst the consortium will develop widely applicable analysis frameworks, the project will focus on electricity-related futures and on the roles of actors, both large, e.g. multinational energy supply and distribution companies, national governments, major investors, and small, e.g. households, innovators and entrepreneurs. The research will contribute to the evolution of the necessary physical and institutional infrastructure changes that directly involve and affect the public, through engagement with new and incumbent stakeholders, and will promote innovation towards a future more sustainable energy system.The overall aim is to develop a set of potential transition pathways for the UK energy system to a low carbon future, and undertake whole systems assessments of the technical, economic, social and environmental feasibility, potential and acceptability of these pathways. These assessments will draw on a range of analytic and deliberative 'tools' and approaches, combining the 'story-telling' approach used in exploratory scenarios (e.g. by Shell) with critical technical and social assessments of what would be required to bring them about. We propose to interrogate the dynamics of transition pathways to to a low carbon economy by:* Developing a conceptual and analytical framework for exploring transition pathways, based on quantitative and qualitative methods, and encompassing engineering, economic, environmental, policy and behavioural sciences.* Identifying and exploring a limited set of transition pathways to a UK low carbon energy system focussing on the role of electricity supply and demand;* Undertaking detailed technical and social analysis of the feasibility and acceptability of these pathways, applying quantitative modelling and analysis of electricity systems and infrastructures, and qualitative assessment of the roles of industrial and consumer actors.* Bringing these together in a whole systems analysis, employing a 'toolkit' of techniques to explore and evaluate specific implications of these pathways to a highly electric, low carbon economy.Within an overall framework of electricity as the principal final energy vector within a low-carbon energy system, we will examine different potential transition pathways, involving different mixes of supply-side and demand-side technological and behavioural options. The project will identify and explore a limited set of potential transition pathways covering these options. The pathways will focus on three 15-year periods, which correspond to the 5 year carbon budgeting periods, proposed in the draft Climate Change Bill. These periods will be 2008-2022, 2023-2037 and 2038-2052. These pathways will be further developed and explored through discussions within the Consortium and with a range of stakeholders at invited workshops.There are three core research themes: (1) Transitions: from scenarios and history to pathways; (2) Technical and social analysis of supply-side, demand-side and infrastructure networks; and (3) Whole Systems Appraisal and Joint Working, Integration and Learning. They will be pursued in three stages: (1) Development of Frameworks and Outline Pathways; (2): Explore and Interrogate Pathways; (3): Complete Pathway Exploration; Produce, Test and Deliver Findings.
|Effective start/end date||1/05/08 → 30/04/12|
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council