Deliberating the social acceptability of energy storage in the UK

Gareth Thomas, Christina Demski, Nick Pidgeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Energy storage technologies are receiving increasing attention in the UK and around the world as a means of increasing penetration of inflexible low-carbon electricity generation and optimising investment in energy infrastructure required to meet international decarbonisation goals. Research into the social acceptability of energy infrastructure has compellingly illustrated the importance of societal perceptions in the successful deployment of new infrastructure. However to date, no study has empirically examined public perceptions across the broad range of storage technologies available. We address this gap by presenting qualitative findings from four deliberative workshops held with members of the British public. We show that citizens underestimate the challenge of growing volumes of inflexible low-carbon electricity generation, and respond to storage technologies through reference to commonly perceived risks and benefits. When participants discussed how storage might be funded and managed, additional evaluative criteria emerged centred around equity, vulnerability, independence and convenience. Our findings suggest that perceptions of storage technologies tend to be ambivalent, and that acceptance is likely to be contingent on whether storage technologies can be designed, regulated and governed in ways which reduce technical concerns over safety, environmental impacts and reliability, while meeting societal desires for equity and the protection of vulnerable groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110908
JournalEnergy Policy
Volume133
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • Deliberative research
  • Energy storage
  • Energy system governance
  • Flexibility
  • Public attitudes
  • Public perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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