Of profits, transparency, and responsibility: Public views on financing energy system change in Great Britain

Sarah Becker, Christina Demski, Darrick Evensen, Nick Pidgeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)


Energy transitions in Great Britain (GB) require public engagement and acceptance, but it is not clear how energy system change is to be financed. In this paper we explore public views on responsibility (of the government in Great Britain, energy companies and residents) to pay for costs associated with energy system change and personal acceptance to contribute financially. Five focus groups with 6-9 participants each, were conducted in four locations across GB. Using thematic analysis to examine responsibility and the role of trust we identified three themes relating to 1) views on profits, 2) lack of transparency and 3) the perceived problematic relationship between energy companies and government. Participants assigned greater responsibility to institutional actors and did not believe that these actors were currently contributing sufficiently. Although participants were prepared to accept some additional costs because they were in favour of energy transitions, they also expressed distrust towards the other actors due to concerns over the profit driven energy system, lack of transparency and perceived close connections between the energy industry and government. These concerns could result in reduced public support for transitions if they remain unaddressed; they highlight a demand for a more equal distribution of costs and benefits and fairer processes in the energy system and transitions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-246
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The funding source had no involvement in the study design, in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the paper; and in the decision to submit the article for publication. We would like to thank Dr Erin Roberts (Cardiff University) for her contribution to data collection, by helping to plan and run the focus groups.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) [grant number EP/L024756/1 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council award].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • energy transition
  • financing
  • justice
  • Public perception
  • responsibility
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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