Socio-technical transitions in UK electricity - Part 2: technologies and sustainability

Timothy J. Foxon, Geoffrey P. Hammond, Peter J. G. Pearson

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A large interdisciplinary consortium of engineers, social scientists and policy analysts has developed three low emissions, more-electric transition pathways for the UK. The approach is based on earlier work on understanding transitions, applying a multi-level perspective with landscape, regime and niche levels to the development of socio-technical scenarios. The pathways to 2050 focus on the power sector, including the potential for increasing the use of low-emissions electricity for heating and transport. Part 1 described studies of historical energy and infrastructure transitions that help to understand the dynamics and timing of past transitions. The role of large-scale and small-scale actors in the electricity sector and methods used to develop the pathways were also described. In part 2, associated technologies are evaluated to determine the choices that need to be made by UK energy policymakers and stakeholders. All three pathways are appraised in terms of their environmental performance using complementary life-cycle assessment and footprinting methods. Lessons can clearly be drawn for other industrialised nations attempting to reduce the emissions of their electricity generation systems, although local circumstances will determine country- and region-specific options.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjener.19.00076
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Energy
Issue number3
Early online date28 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2020


  • Business
  • Climate change
  • Energy


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