The iGov team, headed up by Catherine Mitchell, hope to pave the way for a better energy policy deal for consumers

Research to reveal route to affordable, secure and sustainable energy

What is the best way for people in the UK to have access to affordable, secure and sustainable energy?

University of Exeter researchers are conducting the first in-depth analysis of the governance behind energy provision and aim to present the UK Government with a framework for how the UK can meet its sustainable energy aspirations.

The team hopes its research will pave the way for an energy policy which offers a better deal for consumers while increasing the rate of change to a sustainable, secure and affordable energy system.

Funded through a £1.3 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the four-year study will focus on four countries: the UK, US, Denmark and Germany. The researchers will analyse the governance issues that determine the cost of energy and the development of sustainable energy innovations. The research will play an important part in understanding how the UK can better position itself to meet its target of achieving an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

The researchers will explore the governance behind energy policy in the UK, Denmark, Germany and two American states: California and Texas. By looking at their very different approaches to energy provision, the team will establish how decisions are made and how innovations are supported. They will seek to uncover how different governance systems can alter the effectiveness of the energy policies and the cost to customers.

The project will focus on the relationships between innovation, governance, energy demand and affordability. The research team will examine the roles that are played by governments and energy companies, and how policies in different countries are affecting their ability to deliver sustainable energy that is affordable to customers.

Lead researcher Catherine Mitchell is Professor of Energy Policy in Geography at the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus. She was Coordinating Lead Author for the Policy, Financing and Implementation Chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Renewable Energy and Climate Change Mitigation; Lead Author of the Policy Chapter in the IPCC’s Working Group 3 Fifth Assessment Report;  and Lead Author of the Renewable Energy Policy chapter of the Global Energy Assessment of IIASSA.

Professor Catherine Mitchell said: “The goal of moving towards a more sustainable, low carbon economy implies the need for a radical transition in the way that energy is both supplied and used. Ultimately, we need a new approach to energy that takes notice of customers and the needs of society.

“The governance behind energy policy is highly complex, involving interactions between many different factors. No-one has ever embarked on a study on this scale, but we are well placed to get to the heart of the issues the UK is facing and pave the way for a fairer, greener approach to energy for the future.”

Find out about the University of Exeter’s MSc Energy Policy

Date: 25 October 2012

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