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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N014170/1
Title: IGov: Innovation and Governance for Future Energy Systems
Principal Investigator: Mitchell, Professor CH
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Geography
Organisation: University of Exeter
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 October 2016 Ends: 31 December 2019 Value (£): 1,115,541
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Sustainable Energy Vectors
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Feb 2016 Engineering Fellowship Interview Panel A February 2016 Announced
25 Nov 2015 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 25th and 26th November 2015 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Catherine Mitchell's Established Career Fellowship (ECF) has shown/is showing that GB's energy governance is slow at changing, including with respect to the demand side, and that GB is following a somewhat different low carbon technological path than other European countries, especially those which are most determined to meet their low carbon targets (i.e. Germany and Denmark). Energy system practice change is happening more quickly in some countries and US States with respect to technology use, new entrants, business models, customer engagement and ownership, and this system change appears to be speeding up and becoming increasingly decentralised.

Through the ECF, seven issues have emerged about the scale, speed and scope of changes in energy practices by new actors around the world. These are: (1) that there are increasingly rapid changes in many other countries, as explained above; (2) that there appears to be a social, technical, and economic tipping point in favour of a new energy trajectory, even while energy systems remain dominated by fossil fuels; (3) the nature of change appears to be leading to an increasingly co-ordinated but increasingly decentralised energy system; and some changes appears to have their own momentum - like a group of birds 'flocking' or a starling's 'murmuration'. This pattern of change raises (4) concerns about possible disruption, either physical or economic; and whether Britain could 'manage' the transition process; (5) questions about the nature of the future energy system; (6) whether the form that change is taking and the types of energy governance responses in different countries are related to their differing political economy institutions; and finally (7) concerns that the current fossil fuel disinvestment campaign will have an unexpectedly rapid impact on energy systems, with implications for governance.

The Fellowship Extension (FE) will explore these issues, and their implications for GB energy governance. Research into, examination of, and subsequent dissemination of these issues to inform British policy and institutions are essential because: (1) policy makers need to know what is happening elsewhere in the globe to understand the potential impacts and opportunities of similar changes here; (2) it seems likely that co-ordinated decentralisation enabled by ICT is a change in energy systems of a scale and nature that is unprecedented, having rapid, large impacts on infrastructure, ownership, business models, and social preferences, and together the impacts from which are not fully understood or necessarily controllable; (3) co-ordinated decentralisation may be a successful way to connect individuals thereby facilitating a quicker move to a smarter, more efficient, demand focused system; (4) technological pathways in co-ordinated decentralisation might better reduce potential negative impacts of disruption or further enable a better 'management' of disruption.

These issues lead to three phases of analysis: the nature of change; what are the responses to change; and contextualising change. The answers will have important implications for governance of the GB energy system, especially in relation to how it can develop policies and institutions that provide greater flexibility, adaptability and responsiveness. The key questions of the FE are set out in detail in the Diagrammatic Work-Plan.

There would also be two phases of dissemination. This is discussed in detail in the Pathways to Impact and is made up of: firstly, a conclusions and recommendations phase which would summarise key outcomes for different audiences. And secondly, in addition to standard academic aims of journal publication etc, a principal dissemination goal of the FE would be to become a web hub to further engage in debates on energy system change with further blogging, a more active presence on twitter, working towards the publication of a MOOC; with webinars, workshops, and greater international links.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.ex.ac.uk