SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Energy and Climate Seminar

The Energy and Climate Seminar Series is a weekly seminar series that tackles issues around climate change, energy policy and sustainability. It runs during term time and features speakers from a range of sectors such as academia, government as well as practitioners.

No items are currently available.

Past seminars

Spring 2017
7th February
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee 118
Peter Geddes (DONG Energy)
The construction and cost of an offshore wind farm

Bio

Pete Geddes is Head of wind turbine installation at DONG Energy, the world’s leading offshore wind developer. He graduated from Warwick University with a degree in Engineering Design and Appropriate Technology in 1994. Since then he has been continuously working in renewables and in large scale wind farm construction for the last 14 years.

Abstract

Peter will present the construction process of how an offshore wind farm is built, examining factors influencing costs and in particular look at the startling way in which costs have gone rapidly up and now downwards in the last 15 years.

14th February
12:00 - 13:00
Jubilee 118
Ana Pueyo (IDS)
Unlocking investment in Africa's renewables: what are the binding constraints?

Ana's slides

Abstract

Sub-Saharan Africa’s power sector is characterised by very low access rates, poor quality of supply and high vulnerability to volatile prices of imported fossil fuels and erratic rainfall patterns. Even though renewable energy resources are abundant and increasingly competitive with fossil fuels, they remain unutilised due to insufficient investment. The literature is replete with attempts to understand why this situation persists. Some problems often cited are: under-pricing of electricity, financial weakness of electric utilities, corruption and patronage, flawed and uncertain regulation, low savings rates, poorly developed financial markets, low and dispersed demand, high transmission losses, constricted power generation planning, or lack of technological knowledge. The region has attempted to reform the power sector to address these problems, often with disappointing results. Reforms that had worked in some contexts proved ineffective in others. This suggests that in different countries some constraints are more important than others, and policy efforts should target the most binding constraints to investment.  This rationale inspired our research project “Green Growth Diagnostics for Africa”, which draws from and extends the original Growth Diagnostics framework developed by Haussman, Rodrik and Velasco (2004) to answer the following question: For this particular country, at this particular time, what is preventing the country from achieving higher levels of investment in renewable energy technologies that make economic sense? During this seminar, I will present the tools we have developed to systematically identify and prioritise the constraints to investment in renewables in a developing country context, and their application to two countries: Kenya and Ghana. Our research goes beyond the identification of constraints and related policies to analyse their political feasibility through a political economy analysis (PEA). The main conclusions of this PEA will also be presented in the seminar.

Bio

Ana Pueyo is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), where she leads research on energy and development. She has been the convenor of the research theme “Pro-poor access to electricity”, as part of DFID’s Accountable Grant to IDS. The program looked at the key elements energy supply initiatives need to consider to achieve poverty impacts. She has also been the Principal Investigator of the EPSRC research project “Green Growth Diagnostics for Africa” that analyses systematically the barriers preventing higher investment in renewable energy in Africa, with a particular focus on Kenya and Ghana. She is also leading research looking at the impact of electricity provision through mini-grids for small businesses in Kenyan villages. She has 14 years of academic and consultancy experience on energy and climate policy, having advised extensively policymakers in the European Union,  NGOs and private sector actors including energy utilities, sectoral associations, airlines and renewable energy project developers. Ana is trained as an Economist by the Autonoma University of Madrid, holds an MSc in Management of Information Systems by the London School of Economics and a PhD in Industrial Engineering by the Technical University of Madrid.

21st February
12:00 - 13:00
Jubilee 118
Phil Grunewald (Oxford University)
Demand side flexibility - where does it reside? Understanding the link between household activities and load profiles

Phil's slides

Abstract

Electricity systems will be in desperate need of flexibility. Current large scale thermal plants provide flexibility in spades. They can ramp up and down as demand requires. Renewables have begun to effectively displace these high emitting plants, but with them we lose their valuable flexibility. Much hope rests on two new alternatives to fill the gap: storage and demand side response. Phil will attempt to unpack what roles they could play and what we actually mean by demand response. There could be a number of ways (8 perhaps) to make demand more flexible. Very different instruments may be required to realise them. We will discuss if there might be more interesting approaches than time-use-tariffs alone.

Bio

Phil is an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Fellow at the University of Oxford. He leads the Meter (http://www.energy-use.org) project on the understanding of household electricity use dynamics and the Flexibility Theme in the Lower Carbon Futures Group at the Environmental Change Institute.

His PhD at Imperial College London explored the future role of electricity storage in low carbon energy systems. Since 2013 he has worked at Oxford on the integration of renewables through storage and demand response. He also supported the creation of the interdisciplinary Oxford Energy Network, comprising 200 senior energy researchers.

He is an engineer by background. Phil obtained his first degree in Business Engineering from Wedel, Germany. For 10 years Phil worked on advanced laser processes for the semiconductor and photovoltaic industry.

28th February
12:00 - 13:00
Jubilee 118
Moshe Givoni (Tel Aviv University)
Policy packaging: theory, methodology and practice

Moshe's slides

Abstract

Policy packaging is not a new concept and hardly anyone would dispute the merit of strategically considering and deploying several policy measures (or instruments) in combination to address (transport) policy issues. Yet the concept of policy packaging remains largely vague, and how to ‘package’ policies is seldom really considered or suggested. Policy packaging in most cases remains just a term.

In recent years, research efforts have been devoted to turn policy packaging into a well-established approach to policy making, with solid theoretical and methodological foundations that can also be practically applied in the field. With the long-term goal of turning Policy Packaging into a normative and universally applied process for designing policy, the seminar will outline where this research currently stands. Firstly, the main principles of policy packaging will be defined alongside the goals it strives to achieve: increasing effectiveness, implementability and thus efficiency. Secondly, the main steps of the policy packaging design process (the methodology) will be described before, thirdly, its applicability to real-life policy making will be discussed.

The above should provide an opportunity to contrast the Policy Packaging methodology with the Policy Mixes literature, in the hope of advancing both and an opportunity to examine how the Policy Packaging methodology can contribute to and operate in a context of 'transition'.

Bio

Moshe Givoni is head of the Transport Research Unit (TRU) and a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Geography and Human Environment at Tel-Aviv University. He is also an Honorary Research Associate at the Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford where he was a Senior Researcher before joining Tel-Aviv University. He gained his PhD from University College London, and his MBA and BA in Economics and Geography from Tel-Aviv University. He previously held two Marie Curie Fellowships, including post-doctoral fellowship at the Department of Spatial Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His research interests all fall under the umbrella of "Moving towards Low Carbon Mobility" and focus on Public Transport, Conceptualization of Travel Time, Adaptive Planning of Transport Infrastructure, Policy Packaging and more. Moshe serves as an Associate-Editor of Transport Reviews journal.   

7th March
12:00 - 13:00
Jubilee 118
Chiara Fratini (TBC) 
Institutions and industrial policy in energy disruption: the illustrative case of Denmark 

Chiara's slides

Abstract

This presentation reports the preliminary findings of a case study on the co-evolution of disruptive innovations, institutions and industrial policy which has characterized the transition of the Danish energy sector in the last four decades. The fieldwork, based on twenty-five semi-structured interviews with key actors (from state, knowledge institutions, civil society and business) involved in energy transition in Denmark, was designed to answer the following research questions:  

  1. How can disruption be characterized in energy transition processes?
  2. What is the role of institutions for energy disruption – both as enablers and barriers –  and how have any changes in institutional factors been influenced by, or influenced disruptive processes in the energy system?
  3. What is the role of industrial policy for energy disruption – both as enabler and barrier – and which new industrial policies have emerged to handle energy disruption?

The presentation will conclude by identifying and discussing the key institutional and industrial policy factors which have contributed to the disruption of the Danish energy sector, which is today characterized by: 1) 50% electricity production based on wind; 2) 63 % of all private houses connected to district heating - not only for space heating, but also for domestic hot water; 3) the creation of a dominant green industry based on renewables and energy efficiency technologies.

Bio

Chiara Farné Fratini is originally from Florence, Italy, but has been living in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the last 11 years. She is an engineer but has a large experience in inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches working at the interface between society, technology and environment both in practice and academia. She has experiences of project leading, team work and teaching in a variety of cultural contexts and competences. She is a researcher in the governance and geography of sustainability transitions and innovation. Her theoretical work focuses on transition theories, history and sociology of technology and science, complexity science, political ecology, organizational and institutional studies. Her empirical work focuses on policy, planning and management practices, infrastructural and environmental management, public administrations and business models for urban service delivery. Here at SPRU, Chiara is research fellow on energy transition and institutions and collaborates with Dr Paula Kivimaa (PI), Dr Phil Johnstone, Dr Karoline Rogge and Prof Andy Stirling in the Smart Energy Transition (SET) project funded by the Strategic Funding Programme of the Academy of Finland. The research is built on a comparative study of energy transition processes across Denmark, Germany and UK and aims at shading light on the role of institutions and industrial policy in energy disruption. 

14th March
12:00 - 13:00
Jubilee 118
Catherine Butler (University of Exeter)
Rethinking energy demand governance

Catherine's slides

Abstract

The challenges of climate change and energy security, along with problems of fuel poverty and energy justice bring imperatives to create transitions in energy demand. Academic research and theory has highlighted the ways that government policies, strategies, and processes across wide-ranging areas of policy, from health to work and the economy, shape everyday practices with significant implications for energy needs and energy demand issues. This brings focus on the role of governance in shaping energy demand far beyond what might traditionally be characterised as ‘energy’ policy. For this seminar I will present data from the ‘Welfare, Employment and Energy Demand’ project, to show how this area of ‘non-energy policy’ has important implications for transitions in energy demand. The talk uses qualitative interview data with actors involved in policy-making or policy implementation and documentary material, to highlight four different ways that non-energy policy has implications for energy issues, needs, and associated vulnerabilities. These concern: 1) direct forms of influence on energy needs and the nature of contemporary energy issues; 2) contributions to wider governance goals and cross-departmental agendas; 3) shaping long-term trajectories of social and material change that affect what is possible or not within energy policy, as well as constituting needs for energy; and 4) the significance of framing and agenda setting outside of energy policy that shapes what is conceived as possible. The paper concludes reflecting on the implications of the analysis for governance of energy demand to meet contemporary challenges.

Bio 

Catherine Butler is an Advanced Research Fellow in environment and sustainability in the Geography department at University of Exeter. Her research sits at the interface between human geography, political theory, and science and technology studies and addresses responses to socio-environmental change. She is convener of the British Sociological Association Climate Change Study Group, Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society Energy Geographies Research Group, and is currently Principle Investigator on two major grants examining different dimensions of policy relating to climate change and low carbon transitions. 

21st March
12:00 - 13:00
Jubilee 118
Oluf Langhelle (Visiting fellow at SPRU from the University of Stavanger)
Sustainability transitions – explaining the emerging (and non-emerging) transitions of Carbon Capture and Storage and electric vehicles in Norway

Oluf's slides

Abstract

This presentation reports on work in progress on the role of politics in sustainability transitions. It takes the multi-level perspective (MLP) as its point of departure and analysis two politically driven transitional processes in Norway: The rapid expansion of electric vehicles (EVs) and the attempts to further expand Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) nationally (and internationally). It is argued that politics provides the specific alignments between the socio technical landscape, the socio-technical regime and niches, and that politics functions as a selection mechanism for regime- and niche developments. Only politics can explain the ongoing transformations in the above two cases. In fact, both of these policy areas and the innovations therein, has been largely driven by political tensions and conflict, and the changes would not have materialized without specific political configurations and political tensions over climate policies. Hence, political power struggles constitute the main explanatory variable for the transformational processes in these two cases.

The cases also draws on very different imaginaries of the future energy mix, imaginaries that are used politically to impact policy decisions today, and which reveals huge differences in the understanding of what a low carbon transition actually implies. In fact, the future energy mix has become one of the most controversial questions in contemporary politics. For some, a low carbon transition gives ample room for fossil fuels in the future energy mix (with or without CCS and other ‘clean’ technologies). For others, a low carbon transition equals a future energy mix heavily dominated by renewable energy. These conflicting imaginaries of the future energy mix and the visions they entail are present in most countries, and they could be seen as reflections of different actors underlying interests and ideas about what a low carbon transition implies, how it should be achieved and what is possible to achieve.

Bio

Oluf Langhelle is Professor in political science at University of Stavanger, Department of Media, Culture and Social Sciences, Norway. He took his Dr. Polit. degree at University of Oslo, Norway. His research has focused on the concept of sustainable development and follow-up, strategies for sustainable development, environmental politics and policy, including oil and gas policies in the Arctic, transitions towards low carbon societies, focusing on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Current research projects includes:

- Participation in the ELinGO project, looking at the electrification of heavy freight transport and three technologies (pantographs above the vehicles, a rail under or by inductive charging), and the conditions necessary for its realization. The project started in 2016, will continue until 2018 funded by the Research Council of Norway.

- Participation in the Conceptual Innovations in Environmental Policy Project (lead by James Meadowcroft and Daniel J. Fiorino) on writing on the concept of sustainable development.

Recent publications:

Langhelle, O. (2017). “Sustainable development – linking environment and development”, in J. Meadowcroft and D. Fiorino (eds.), Conceptual innovations in environmental policy, Cambridge: MIT Press (forthcoming).

Kristoffersen, B. and Langhelle, O. (2017). “Sustainable development as a Global-Arctic matter - Imaginaries and controversies”, in K. Keil and S. Kneckt (eds.), Beyond Geo-Politics: Arctic Governance in Global Perspective, London: Palgrave Macmillan.

28th March
12:00 - 13:00
Jubilee 118
Maria Carvalho (LSE)
Reconsidering green industrial policy: Does techno-nationalism maximise green growth in the domestic economy?

Maria's slides

Read Maria's thesis on 'The internationalisation of green technologies and the realisation of green growth'.

Abstract

This paper recognises how techno-national debates on green industrial policy are connected to domestic political economy expectations of green growth. Techno-nationalist policies are aimed at ensuring that the returns from green industrial policy are appropriated within the national economy. The domestic political economy debate focuses on whether it is worth supporting green innovation and markets if other economies learn to manufacture and export these technologies. The literature on green growth recognises that global competition results in innovation and manufacturing shifting to countries where comparative advantage exists, but these spatial dynamics contradict the political economy expectations of economic spillovers between domestic innovation, manufacturing and markets. This paper focuses on how this techno-nationalist perspective is problematic. In doing so, it develops a conceptual framework based on the spatial characteristics of industrial activities and technologies. Through this spatial framework, it demonstrates how different economies are exposed to global competition and examines how innovation enables economies to become resilient to global competition in manufacturing. Lastly it illustrates how supply-side protectionism can inhibit domestic market expansion along with associated economic value and employment opportunities. Consequently, the paper seeks to provide a balanced assessment of how domestic economies can achieve green growth from innovation, manufacturing and markets.

Bio

Maria holds a PhD with the Geography and Environment Department at the LSE (2015), an MSc in Environmental Policy & Regulation (2007 with Distinction), and a BAH in Economics & Development at Queen’s University, Canada (2006). Maria currently works in the Policy team for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change & Environment (GRI), focusing on energy and climate policies for the EU, along with North American policy engagement. She initially joined the GRI as a PhD student in 2010, with her PhD research title “The internationalisation of green technologies and the realisation of green growth”, where she integrates insights from economic geography, environmental policy, and technology transitions to address international political economy issues involved with green industrial policy.

Prior to her PhD, Maria worked for New Energy Finance (later acquired by Bloomberg) for two years in the Carbon Markets team. She has consulted for the World Bank, the Overseas Development Institute, the UN Commission on Trade and Development, World Intellectual Property Organization, the GRI at the LSE, and UCL’s Green Economy Policy Commission.

4th April
12:00 - 13:00
Jubilee 118
Jack Miller (SPRU/CIED)
Tidal dams, devolution and development: Insights and experiences from the National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Abstract

*This seminar is particularly recommended for PhD and MSc students.*

Jack is a 3rd-year SPRU PhD student and has spent the past three months on placement with the National Assembly for Wales Research Service, as part of the RCUK Policy Internship scheme. The National Assembly is the devolved administration in Wales which makes legislation and scrutinises the Welsh Government. In the wake of the EU referendum (52.5% in Wales voted Leave), the passing of the Wales Act in January (overhauling the legislative devolution process and bringing new powers on energy policy to Cardiff), as well as the forthcoming Welsh Government economic development strategy, 2017 has been a fairly unique time to be at the heart of the Welsh legislature. The seminar will give an insight into providing research to elected representatives in a policy-driven environment, and will touch on some common themes running throughout Jack's time with the Research Service.

Bio

Jack is a third-year PhD student at SPRU and a member of the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand. His PhD examines macro relationships between energy use and economic output, specifically through the lens of 'useful exergy', or the portion of energy flows delivered to end-users that can used to perform physical work. He has an MSc in Energy Policy for Sustainability (SPRU, 2014), and an MPhys Physics degree from the University of Sussex (2013).

24th April
12:00 - 13:30
Jubilee 155
Wokje Abrahamse (CIED Visiting Fellow, Victoria University of Wellington)
What psychology knows about energy conservation: from theory to practice

Abstract

Research suggests that about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions from households could be reduced via behavioural changes (Dietz et al., 2009). Yet – energy conservation via behavioural changes can be difficult to achieve. The two most commonly used behaviour change interventions - information provision and financial incentives - are not always as effective as sometimes assumed. In this presentation, I will provide a brief overview of the ways in which theoretical and applied research from psychology contributes to our understanding of how to (more) effectively encourage energy conservation via behavioural changes. I will use illustrative examples from my own research, including my work on energy audits, tailored information, and the use of social influence.

Bio

Wokje Abrahamse is Senior Lecturer in the Environmental Studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Wokje is an environmental psychologist and her research focuses on (i) understanding people's motivations for engaging in pro-environmental behaviours and (ii) examining the effectiveness of behaviour change interventions. She has been involved in a number of research projects in the domain of domestic energy conservation.

Wokje has a PhD in Social and Behavioural Sciences from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands), and has held postdoctoral positions at the University of Surrey (UK), University of Otago (NZ) and the University of Victoria (Canada). 

25th April
12:00 - 13:00
Jubilee 118
Theo Covary (Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town)
The Political Economy of the Municipal Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) in South Africa

Abstract

South Africa as a mid-income developing country best known for its mineral wealth and history of socio-economic inequality, is electrified by Eskom, a single vertically integrated national utility. The economy, built around mining activities, is highly energy intensive, making the nation’s fortunes acutely sensitive to Eskom and its ability to meet demand, which it has not been able to do reliably since 2005.

Eskom’s domination of ESI however, is not total. Municipalities are the sole distributors in their area of jurisdiction, from which they derive trading surpluses – a major contributor to municipal revenue and a municipal function protected by the 1996 Constitution. This was not always the case. Municipalities owned and operated large generation plants; and indeed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Eskom was often only able to meet industrial demand by taking supply from Johannesburg. By the mid-1960’s however, most of its new plants had come online, and having served its purpose, national government stopped municipal generation at Eskom’s behest.

Historically, South Africa’s is a municipal context where local government, even prior to the formation of a Union in 1910, was expected to be self-sufficient; and two revenue instruments were provided to achieve this: property taxes and surpluses from services (electricity by far the biggest contributor). The revenue contribution from surpluses cannot be over-stated; and electricity undertakings have always been put under internal political pressure to maximise returns, as the revenue was sorely needed to cross-subsidise other municipal functions. This has however often been to the long-term detriment of the municipal undertaking business, and more recently, to national policy energy conservation objectives such as supply shortages and climate change emissions targets.

Ultimately, the development of South Africa’s ESI to supply mining and industry, (Eskom and its predecessors), and its role in the economy, has been the subject of much academic research. Little literature exists on municipal ESI however, which commenced at the same time. This research – grounded in the theoretical framework of historical institutionalism – thus attempts to reduce the literature deficit. The interplay between the need for municipal electricity undertakings to maximise profits; decentralised local government; a monopolistic national utility with vested interests; and national government’s attempts to control and reform the industry, are traced from 1880; in providing fresh contextual analysis of the current crisis, from the historical and institutional perspective of municipal electricity undertakings. 

Bio

Theo founded Unlimited Energy, an energy consulting company in 2006. The company, specialises in energy efficiency and renewable energy public policy research and analysis. its clients include Government ministries and international agencies, such as World Bank, UNDP, GIZ and IEA. In addition to South Africa, Theo has worked in Kenya, Botswana and Nigeria.

In 2016, the company won the South African National Energy Association’s Project of the Year Award for the work done in convincing national government and industry to raise the mandatory minimum energy performance standards for electric water heaters. It is estimated that this will save 3.82TWh of electricity by 2030.

Theo is a part time student at the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre, where he is working towards completing a PhD, which is the topic of this presentation.

2nd May
12:00 - 13:00
Jubilee 118
Debbie Hopkins (TSU, Oxford University and CIED)
Constructing Legitimacy for Automated Goods Mobility

Abstract

Increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy demand represent fast, cheap and safe opportunities to mitigate climate change. Transport has been identified as an important sector due to its significant contributions to global emissions, as well as local environmental impacts including air pollution. However, to date, research has focused on reducing the energy intensity of passenger transport resulting in large uncertainties on the global potential for greenhouse gas emission reductions for freight transport. As centres of production and consumption, cities rely heavily on the mobility of freight for the provision of goods and services to residents, visitors, firms and organisations. Volumes of freight mobility are increasing and courier, express and parcel (CEP) services growing rapidly with ongoing urbanisation and changes in consumption and shopping habits and delivery structures. A range of innovations have emerged to increase efficiency and decrease energy demand for the urban freight sector. These include urban consolidation centres, GPS tracking and driver training. Automated (self-driving, driverless, autonomous) vehicles have also been identified as an opportunity to decrease the energy intensity of the industry.

In this seminar, which is based on research conducted by Dr. Debbie Hopkins and Dr Tim Schwanen, Dr Hopkins will present preliminary findings from an analysis of freight industry magazines and mass media articles sourced from four online databases (n=117). While energy/fuel efficiencies and carbon emission reductions are used to legitimise automated technologies, and associated practices (e.g. platooning), we find evidence of widely diverging perspectives on technological capabilities, implications for freight drivers, and timeframes to diffusion. Technology and government actors’ attention to the development, testing and demonstration of the various automated technologies is clear; however there is little sign of societal embedding and legitimacy building which may result in unmet expectations. 

Bio

Dr Debbie Hopkins is a Research Fellow in Low Carbon Mobility and Energy Demand at the Transport Studies Unit, and a Junior Research Fellow in Geography at Mansfield College, University of Oxford. Debbie has a master’s degree (with distinction) in geography from King’s College London,  Prior to joining TSU, Debbie was a Research Fellow on the Energy Cultures II research programme at the Centre for Sustainability (Otago). She also completed postdoctoral training at the Centre for Sustainability and the Otago Climate Change Network (OCCNet). Debbie is an environmental social scientist and human geographer, with research expertise in socio-spatial interpretations and experiences of environmental issues. Her research is broadly concerned with the social dimensions of climate change, the social practice of mobilities, and low-carbon mobility transitions. Her empirical research includes investigations of urban freight, adolescent mobility trends, virtual mobilities, collaborative consumption, and academic mobilities.

Autumn 2016
20th September
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building G22
Chaitanya Kumar (Msc Energy Policy 2016 alumnus)
Notions of energy justice - examples from Bangladesh, India and the United Kingdom

Abstract

Energy justice is often used as an umbrella term for the various moral, ethical and judicial conundrums that the energy sector poses. Should we, for example, continue using coal for our energy needs when its detrimental impact on human health is well documented? Who are the beneficiaries and who pays the societal costs of using it? Who gets to make these decisions and how can we change that? Energy policy makers are, more than ever, being forced to confront the real and pressing challenges of energy justice. 

The speaker will introduce some of these questions using his recent paper titled - 'Corruption, crony capitalism and conflict: Rethinking the political economy of coal in Bangladesh and beyond', as the point of departure and offers a glimpse into the current literature on energy justice. Specific cases from Bangladesh, India and the UK will be discussed to better understand energy justice in practice. 

The speaker does not claim to have any definitive answers to these questions but is interested in working on how they can be better integrated into policy making. 

Bio

Chaitanya Kumar worked as a campaigner on climate change for 6 years in India. He has written extensively on energy and climate issues in the Indian subcontinent. Chaitanya has recently finished a course in Energy Policy at SPRU and is currently busy expanding his understanding of the fascinating world of energy.     

27th September
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building 115
Victoria Pellicer (Ingenio)
Rethinking climate change from social grassroots innovation for human development: the case of the renewable energy cooperative Som Energia

Download the slides.

Abstract

There is no doubt that efforts already undertaken in order to address the challenges posed by climate change have not been fully successful, maybe due to how climate change is being perceived, interrogated and narrated from mainstream approaches. Our departure point is that it is relevant to pay attention to grassroots innovations, since they are developing significant alternative and complementary approaches to current visions. These bottom-up initiatives are contributing with new proposals, technologies, and new social arrangements; they are promoting informal learning and new values based on social justice.
To explore these processes we build an analytical framework that develops connections among ideas coming from three different fields: 1) grassroots innovation and socio-technical transitions literature 2) Human development approach, which helps us to build a framework based on people’s aspiration and normative values (equity, diversity, sustainability, participation, and empowerment). 3) Learning in social action, connected with creation of knowledge based on ethical values and global citizenship.
In the seminar we present the case study based on an alternative initiative for energy production and commercialization. It is the case of Som Energia, a national-scale green energy cooperative (Spain), which is contributing to a transformation on the governance of energy, promoting a democratic and responsible culture of energy consumption. The evidences shows us the potentiality of the framework proposed to recognise and explore grassroots initiatives connected with human development, and, consequently, connected with transformative pathways to combat climate change.

Bio

Victoria Pellicer Sifres is Research Assistant at the Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Management (INGENIO),  a joint research institute of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV). Victoria’s academic background is a degree in Industrial Engineering, MSc in Policies and Process of Development; MSc in Development Aid and currently PhD candidate on Local Development and International Cooperation. Her fields of interest are grassroots social innovation; human development; critical perspectives of climate change and energy democratization.
Victoria has professional experience in the Energy and Development sectors, both in international agencies (United Nations Development Programme; Global Environment Facility; The UN Refugee Agency) and in the private sectors and in various civil society organizations. Currently she is professor in the Master of Development Cooperation in the UPV and researcher in the project “New perspective for rethinking climate change from social grassroots innovation: an approach from human development, learning and citizenship”. On a local level, she is engaged in active social participation in NGO and grassroots initiatives in Valencia (Spain).

4th October
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building 115
Heleen de Coninck (Radboud University)
Technology development and transfer in the Paris Agreement: taking account of innovation systems and capabilities

Download the slides

Abstract

In December 2015, Paris Agreement was agreed, which provides a legally binding though not country-specific framework for climate action, both in mitigation and in adaptation. In Article 10, the provisions for technology development and transfer are laid down. This presentation gives a history of the technology negotiations within the UNFCCC, explains the decision and agreement in Paris from an innovation system perspective, outlines the likely consequences in terms of capabilities and the connections of Article 10 to other provisions in the Paris Agreement, and highlights areas where more is still needed if a climate-resilient economy is to stay within reach. 

Bio

Heleen de Coninck is associate professor in innovation studies at the Environmental Science department at Radboud University’s Faculty of Science. Before joining Radboud University in 2012, she worked for over ten years at the unit Policy Studies of the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN). Her main field of work is climate change mitigation and policy analysis, in particular at the international level, and she has conducted research and consultancy for among others the European Commission, UNFCCC, UNIDO, UNEP, the World Bank and various governments and private sector actors. From 2002-2005, she was part of the Technical Support Unit of the IPCC Working Group III, where she coordinated the Special Report on Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage. From 2008 to 2012, she managed a group of researchers focussing on international climate policy, energy and development, and technology transfer, and acted as programme manager for ECN Policy Studies. She has worked in the European Union, the United States, China, Indonesia, India, South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique and Brazil, amongst other countries. Currently, Heleen is also the chair of Climate Strategies, a climate policy research network that aims to improve the linkage between climate policy research and the negotiations at the European and UN level.

Heleen graduated in Chemistry and in Environmental Science, specialisation climate change and atmospheric chemistry, from Radboud University. After her studies, she worked as atmospheric chemistry researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. In 2009, she finished a PhD on technology in the international climate regime at the VU University Amsterdam in collaboration with Princeton University in the United States and ECN. Heleen has lived in Germany, the United States, Mexico and The Netherlands.

11th October
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building 115
Laur Kanger (SPRU)
How do users contribute to (energy) transitions?

Download the slides

Abstract

Although users have been gaining more and more attention in transitions studies, it is only recently that a more systematic understanding of their role has begun to emerge. Based on the work of Schot and colleagues, this lecture introduces the typology of user roles in energy transitions: user-producers, user-legitimators, user-intermediaries, user-citizens and user-consumers. The typology is illustrated on an historical case study of the US automobility transition between 1891-1964. The results show that user intervention remains crucial through all transition phases and is characterized by a specific pattern. However, more attention should be turned to the role of non-users in shaping transitions.

Bio

Laur Kanger is a Research Fellow in Sustainability Transitions Studies in SPRU with a background in Media & Communication (University of Tartu, MA) and Science & Technology Studies (University of Edinburgh, PhD). His current task is to contribute to two emerging projects: Deep Sustainability Transitions and Designing Innovation Policies for Transformative Change.

18th October
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building 115
Sara Budinis (Sustainable Gas Institute, Imperial College London)
Can technology unlock unburnable carbon?  

Download the slides.

Abstract

To stay within the 2°C carbon budget, a very significant reduction in fossil fuel consumption is required. If we are to meet our carbon budget the majority of global fossil fuel reserves cannot be combusted: the unburnable carbon. The role of technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) may be critical in enabling a greater quantity of fossil fuel to be combusted within a low-carbon framework. However, the potential for CCS to alleviate the carbon constraint is still controversial and uncertain, with a number of studies reaching different conclusions. In May 2016, the Sustainable Gas Institute published its second white paper. This extensive review paper assesses the current state of knowledge regarding the ‘unburnable carbon’ issue, and provides clarity by quantitatively defining the potential role of CCS in unlocking the unburnable carbon over the next 35 years. The paper tackles some important questions such as:- What is the potential role of CCS in meeting the carbon budget? And how do we assess it? What are the current global storage capabilities?

Biography

Dr Sara Budinis is a Research Associate at the Sustainable Gas Institute, based at Imperial College London. Sara joined the Sustainable Gas Institute in May 2015 from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London where she was a Marie Curie Early Stage Research Fellow from September 2011 to September 2014. Sara is a PhD student in the Department of Chemical Engineering under the supervision of Professor Nina F. Thornhill. The topic of her PhD is operation and control of centrifugal gas compressors, with a focus on carbon dioxide compressors. Her PhD project is part of the European Project Energy SmartOps (more information at: www.energy-smartops.eu/).

She received her BEng degree (2006) and MEng degree (2009) in Chemical Engineering and her MSc degree (2010) in Industrial Engineering from University of Genoa (Italy). She spent the first year of her MEng degree as Erasmus student at University College of London (UCL). She also worked as R&D Aerodynamic engineer in Ansaldo Energia since June 2009 until September 2011.

25th October
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building 115
Phil Johnstone (SPRU)
Understanding the intensity of UK policy commitments to nuclear power: the role of perceived imperatives to maintain military nuclear submarine capabilities

Abstract

The UK Government has long been planning to build up to 16 GWe of new nuclear power – a proportional level of support unparalleled in other liberalised energy markets. Despite many challenging developments, these general nuclear attachments show no sign of easing. With many viable alternative strategies for efficient, secure, low-carbon energy services, it is difficult to explain these commitments solely in terms of officially-declared policy rationales. A variety of possible reasons are suggested for the persistent intensity of UK attachments to civil nuclear power. Each is taken here as a basis for systematic hypothesis testing. And one additional hypothesis is also interrogated that has hitherto been virtually entirely neglected – about maintaining national capabilities to build and operate nuclear propelled submarines.

To explore and test this idea, this paper analyses linkages between UK military and civilian nuclear sectors in terms of high-level policy processes around supply chains, skills and expertise. Especially interesting is the critical juncture between 2003-2006, when stated policy moved radically from nuclear power as ‘unattractive’ to calls for a ‘nuclear renaissance’. In this period, especially intense activity can be observed around UK nuclear submarine capabilities. Among many factors, we conclude it is difficult fully to comprehend the persistent intensity of official UK attachments to nuclear power, without also considering aims to maintain nuclear submarine capabilities. Yet this aspect is entirely undocumented anywhere in UK energy policy literatures. To acknowledge this, is not to entertain a conspiracy theory. It can be understood instead, in terms of more distributed and relational dynamics of power. Building on literatures in political science, we refer to this as a ‘deep incumbency complex’. Such an evidently under-visible phenomenon would hold important implications not only for UK nuclear strategies, but also the wider state of British democracy.

This seminar is based on a SPRU Working Paper co-authored with Emily Cox and Andy Stirling.

Bio

Phil Johnstone is a Research Fellow working on a three-year project on the Governance of Discontinuity in Technological Systems (DiscGo). Stemming from research on socio-technical transitions this project studies the under-examined ‘flip side’ to innovation – how technology governance can address the crucial task of disengaging from well-established socio-technical systems. The project is in collaboration with colleagues at the INRA in Paris, TSG in Dortmund and led by Stefan Kuhlmann in Twente. The Sussex case study is civilian nuclear energy, where the governance patterns of France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK will be examined.

Dr Johnstone is also the Tyndall Centre Coordinator for the University of Sussex, a leading research network on climate change and sustainability involving several Universities in the UK as well as one in China. Prior to joining SPRU he completed an MSc in Environmental Governance with Distinction at the University of Manchester, before completing a PhD on Public Engagement with Nuclear Power in the UK. Whilst writing up he worked as a Post-Doctoral Researcher on the ESRCBiosecurity Borderlands project, and then the ESRC Visualising Climate Change project also at Exeter.    

1st November
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building 115
Abbas AbdulRafiu (CIED Visiting Fellow)
Institutional Framework: A driver for Policy Instrument for Low Emission Development in Africa

Abstract

The aim of this presentation is to access the continental platform of institutional arrangement on Energy and establish linkages with Low Emission development strategies (LEDS) so as to help move forward the discussion on the implementation of the African countries Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs), towards a useful LEDS policy instruments. These assessments can play an important role in both the national, continental policy context and for the Global Partnership on LEDS.

It reveals that, at the national levels, low emission development strategy (LEDS) provide a new opportunity to consider clean Energy access and development in a more integrated, systematic and strategic way and at continental scale it galvanize the Low Emission Development Risk Capacity in Africa (LEDRCA). This can help to clarify the unique role of LEDS amongst the myriad of other existing continental strategies that countries submitted as INDCs in 2015 Paris Agreement, and thus provide insights on how a LEDS may be most effectively designed and used to promote economic development in Africa by Capacity assessment, Institutional setup, Identify actions, Identify gaps and barriers, Scenarios and modelling, Baseline and targets, as well as Policy and impact assessment.

Bio

Abbas is a Principal Scientist/Head Pollution Control at the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in Nigeria.

He attended Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto and University of Ado-Ekiti Nigeria, where he obtained his B. Sc. and PGDE respectively. He is presently in charge of pollution, Air Quality including climate change issues in the Agency. As one of the pioneer staff of this Agency, he was in the forefront in the developing and production of twenty four National Environmental Regulations which have been gazetted into law. Abbas’ role among others, is to ensure compliance to all international agreements, convention, treaties and protocols on environment which Nigeria is a signatory. Before joining the Agency he was an assistant lecturer at Kwara State college of education Ilorin, with extensive academic experience in research and teaching on industrial and environmental chemistry. His areas of expertise are among other things: Geographic Information System (GIS), climate policy analysis, Environmental & Social Impact Assessment and communication specialist with eleven years of experience.

Abbas' Fellowship at CIED is supported by:

Low Emission Development Strategy – Global Partnership (UK)

Overseas Development Institute (UK)

Climate Development and Knowledge Network (UK)

Africa Low Emission Development Strategy (AfLEDS) (Ivory Coast)

National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) (Nigeria)

8th November
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building 115
Sarah Williams (Aldersgate Group)
Influencing energy and climate change policy: a view from Westminster

Abstract

Politicians like to talk about evidence-based policy making but tales from Westminster (such as reported demands “to get rid of the green crap”) suggest that this can be difficult to achieve in practice. For those outside of the Westminster bubble, routine political life and parliamentary procedure can often feel impenetrable. This seminar will explore the policy making process in the UK and how academic research can continue to effectively inform government ministers, MPs, Lords and civil servants.

Drawing on my experience of working in Parliament for the Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee and for a policy organisation focused on the transition to a low carbon economy, I will discuss the current state of play of energy and climate change policy in the UK and upcoming areas for engagement. I will outline key examples of how academic research has directly informed the policy process and explore what lessons can be learned from when it has not, plus suggest some tips for effective engagement.

Bio

Sarah Williams is Public Affairs Manager at the Aldersgate Group and responsible for advancing the Group's policy priorities through engagement with politicians and civil servants. She joined the Aldersgate Group Secretariat in June 2015 as maternity cover for the Policy Manager. Sarah graduated from Balliol College, Oxford in 2008 and previously worked in Parliament as special adviser to Tim Yeo, former MP and Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee.

15th November
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building 115
Steve Sorrell and Florian Kern 
Energy transitions: how quickly can change happen?

This seminar will take the form of a debate. If the world is to avoid the most serious consequences of climate change, rapid transitions from high carbon to low carbon energy systems will be required. The question of how quickly change in energy systems can occur was recently discussed in a series of papers in the journal Energy Research and Social Science. The debate was kicked off by Benjamin Sovacool who questioned the conventional wisdom that transitions take decades or even centuries to unfold, and provided some empirical examples of much more rapid change. Critics like Grubler et alFouquet and Smil responded sceptically, arguing that historical evidence convincingly demonstrates that transitions are necessarily slow processes. Others like Kern and Rogge presented a more optimistic take on the issue, arguing that the ongoing energy transition is fundamentally different from previous transitions.

This debate will be kicked off by three short presentations: (1) summarising the article which started off the debate [unfortunately Benjamin is now unable to attend but his slides will be presented by Florian]; (2) Steve Sorrell raising some of the sceptical points made by Grubler, Smil and Fouquet; and (3) Florian Kern presenting the optimistic view, before opening up to the wider audience. 

Read the exchange:

Benjamin Sovacool (2016) How long will it take? Conceptualizing the temporal dynamics of energy transitionsEnergy Research & Social Science 13, pp.202-215.

Smil, V. (2016) Debating Energy Transitions: A Dozen Insights based on Performance, Energy Research & Social Science, 22,

Florian Kern & Karoline Rogge (2016) The pace of governed energy transitions: Agency, international dynamics and the global Paris agreement accelerating decarbonisation processes? Energy Research & Social Science 22, pp.13-17.

Kern, F. & Karoline Rogge (2016) The pace of governed energy transitions: Agency, international dynamics and the global Paris agreement accelerating decarbonisation processes? Energy Research & Social Science 22, pp.13-17

Grubler, A., Wilson, C., & Nemet, G. (2016). Apples, oranges, and consistent comparisons of the temporal dynamics of energy transitions. Energy Research & Social Science, 22, 18-25.

Sovacool, B. K., & Geels, F. W. (2016). Further reflections on the temporality of energy transitions: A response to criticsEnergy Research & Social Science22, 232-237.

22nd November
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building 115
Andrew Blowers (Open University)
The Legacy of Nuclear Power - What is to be done?

Abstract

In all the arguments about the future of nuclear power, one fundamental issue seems to be overlooked – the inevitable and long-lasting legacy of radioactive waste, contamination and risk that it leaves for generations to come. Already this legacy is massive and will take decades to clean up.  Adding to this intractable and enduring problem by building more nuclear power stations should be economically and morally unthinkable. In his new book,The Legacy of Nuclear Power,Andrew Blowers, academic and activist, brings to life what the legacy means for our future and why. Itispublished at a critical time when the future of nuclear energy is high on the political agenda across the world.

Bio

Andrew Blowers OBE is Emeritus Professor of Social Sciences at the Open University. Over a long career he has been involved in the field of environmental politics and policy making as an academic, politician, government adviser, nuclear company director and prominent environmental activist. As a member of the first Committee on Radioactive Waste Management he was directly responsible for some of the UK’s policy on legacy waste. The Legacy of Nuclear Power brings together his varied experience and expertise and reflects his lifetime concern with the fate of nuclear communities now and in the future.

5th December
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building G31
Barbara Praetorius (Agora Energiewende)
Coal exit in Germany: creative destruction or managed gradual decline?

Abstract

Germany has set itself ambitious climate protection targets: -40% by 2020 and -55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The share of renewables in electricity consumption increased steadily to an estimated 34% (or 12% of final energy consumption, AGEB) by the end of 2016. Total greenhouse gas emissions, however, only declined by 27 percent compared to 1990, and it is unrealistic that the gap to meeting the -40% target will be closed until 2020 without shutting down a substantial number of coal-burning power plants. In consequence, Germany has experienced an unprecedented public debate on the role of coal in energy supply this year. This was (partially) triggered by the Agora Energiewende suggestions for a gradual decline in coal burning in the form of a societal process to seek consensus on a contract between regions, governments and industry on a gradual, transparent and foreseeable plan to shut down power plants and mining sites. The second major trigger is overcapacities in Germany and Europe, which themselves are (partially) the result of successful investment in renewables, and which lead to substantial economic pressure on existing power plants. I will address these (and other) triggers and their interaction in meeting – or missing – the climate policy targets in Germany. 

Bio

Dr. Barbara Praetorius is energy economist by training. Before joining Agora Energiewende, she was head of the division Strategy and Key policy issues of the German Association of Local Public Utilities (VKU) from 2008 until 2014. Prior, she has been Senior Researcher and Project Lead in the division Energy, Transport, Environment at DIW Berlin (the German Institute for Economic Research) from 1992 to 2008. At DIW, she headed an interdisciplinary team of scientists from different research institutes, with focus on the technical, organisational-political and behavioural innovations within in the power system. Dr. Barbara Praetorius studied economics and political science and received her doctorate at FU Berlin in 2000 with a doctoral thesis on the electricity market in South Africa. Her research has been published in the form of numerous books, papers and scientific journals both nationally and internationally, with a focus on economic and energy policy analyses, instruments, and strategies for the support of sustainable innovations and energy supply structures.

6th December
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee Building 115
Peter Geddes (DONG Energy) - POSTPONED TO NEXT TERM
The construction and cost of an offshore wind farm

Bio

Pete Geddes is Head of wind turbine installation at DONG energy, the world’s leading offshore wind developer. He graduated from Warwick University with a degree in Engineering Design and Appropriate Technology in 1994. Since then he has been continuously working in renewables and in large scale wind farm construction for the last 14 years.

Abstract

Peter will present the construction process of how an offshore wind farm is built, examining factors influencing costs and in particular look at the startling way in which costs have gone rapidly up and now downwards in the last 15 years.

Spring 2016
2nd February
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Sonja Klinsky (Arizona State University)
Transitional justice in the UNFCCC negotiations on Loss and Damage

Abstract

Geopolitical changes combined with the increasing urgency of ambitious climate action have re-opened long-standing debates about equity in the international climate arena.  Tensions about historical responsibility have been particularly difficult and have the potential to intensify as climate impacts and losses become more severe, and as developing countries face mounting pressure to take mitigation action. Resolving conflicts about the role of historical responsibility may be necessary to enable a global transition to a regime capable of facilitating the depth of collective action required.  This talk presents an alternative to burden-sharing and suggests that a transitional justice approach – in which the focus is on balancing efforts to address historically rooted injustices with a future-oriented collective direction and narrative – may have utility in the climate context.

Bio

Sonja Klinsky is currently an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability. Her work focuses on the climate change policy, particularly in relation to questions of equity and justice.  This has included collaborative work with organizations such as the World Resources Institute and other policy-science interface organizations in order to develop concrete theoretically sound and politically relevant proposals for constructively contributing to climate equity negotiations.  She has also looked at the politics, formation and justice implications of domestic climate policies, largely cap and trade systems, and has done research on public understanding of climate change and sustainability, including on public perceptions of climate justice dilemmas.   

3rd February
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Lucy Baker (SPRU)
The evolving role of finance in South Africa's renewable energy sector
SPRU Wednesday Seminar Serie

Abstract

In the last four years, carbon-intensive, coal-dependent South Africa has become one of the leading global destinations for renewable energy investment. This investment can be attributed to the unprecedented take off of the country's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers' Programme (RE IPPPP), a bidding process for the procurement of privately generated, utility scale renewable energy, launched in August 2011. Asserting that energy must be studied within the broader economic, political and social forces in which it is embedded, I explore the fundamental role that different modes of finance have played in shaping South Africa's emerging renewable energy sector within the context of the country's unique system of accumulation characterised by its minerals-energy complex (MEC) (Fine and Rustomjee, 1996). I focus on finance and financialisation as growing features within the MEC. I further examine the tension or incompatibility between commercial demands for 'bankability', short-term shareholder value and impatient finance and RE IPPPP's unique requirements for community ownership of projects and the realisation of economic development criteria. I find that a reconfiguration of long-standing MEC actors, particularly in the realms of finance is taking place as they merge with new sources of foreign capital.

5th February
13:00 - 16:00
Jubilee 144
Catherine Mitchell (Exeter University)
Innovation and energy governance: lessons to be learned from New York State?
SPRU Friday Seminar Series

The seminar is followed by a Roundtable title tbc. Panelists: Raltisa Hiteva, Claire Carter, Matt Gross

Abstract

Some energy systems are changing rapidly as a result of a complex mix of economics, technologies, public policies, social preferences and more supportive governance. Other energy systems may be altering in some ways but fundamentally, in terms of ownership and practice, little has changed. New York is attempting to fundamentally restructure its energy system through something called the New York Reforming the Energy Vision (NY REV) – please see here for background http://projects.exeter.ac.uk/igov/new-thinking-reforming-the-energy-vision-an-update/   Germany on the other hand while making some alterations to direction, is pretty much following a steady-as-she-goes approach. What lessons are there to be learned for GB? 

Bio

Catherine Mitchell is Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Exeter. Previously she worked at the Universities of Warwick, Sussex and California, Berkeley. She holds a PhD from SPRU, Sussex University in Technology and Innovation Policy. Catherine holds an Established Career Fellowship with the EPSRC (2012-2016) on the relationship between innovation and governance, and led an ESRC/EPSRC interdisciplinary research cluster into Energy Security in a Multi-Polar World (2008-2013). She is on the Chair of the Regulatory Assistance Project; is on the Board of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, the Centre for Sustainable Energy, and is a Member of IPPRs Policy Advisory Committee. Catherine was a Lead Author in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, a Co-ordinating Lead Author of the IPCC’s Special Report on Renewable Energy and Climate Change Mitigation (published in 2011); and a Lead Analyst on the Global Energy Assessment undertaken through the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) published in 2012. She has served on several panels advising the government, including the Energy Advisory Panel (1998-2003), the Balancing and Settlement Code Panel (2008-2010), the Academic Advisory Panel to DECC for Electricity Market Reform (2010), and DECC’s Distributed Generation Advisory Panel (2012). She chaired the British Institute of Energy Economics in 2009-10, and has advised numerous national and international companies, NGOs and institutions on various aspects of the transition to a sustainable energy system.

9th February
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Benjamin Sovacool (SPRU)
The Great Nordic Energy Transition: Insights for UK Researchers and Policymakers
Energy and Climate Seminar Series

Abstract

The five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have aggressive climate and energy policies in place and have already emerged to be leaders in renewable energy. Denmark is renowned for its pioneering use of wind energy, Finland and Sweden bioenergy, Norway hydroelectricity and Iceland geothermal.  This presentation investigates the technological and policy pathways necessary for these five countries to achieve their low carbon goals. It argues that a concerted effort must be made to (1) promote renewable forms of electricity including bioenergy, wind energy, hydroelectricity, geothermal and solar; (2) shift to more sustainable forms of transport such as electric vehicles and biofuel; (3) further improve the energy efficiency of buildings; and (4) adopt carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies for industry. It concludes with implications for what such transition pathways mean for both energy researchers and energy planners. 

Bio

Prof. Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool is Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the School of Business, Management, and Economics, part of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.  There he serves as Director of the Sussex Energy Group and Director of the Center on Innovation and Energy Demand which involves the University of Oxford and the University of Manchester. Professor Sovacool is the author of more than 300 refereed articles, book chapters, and reports, and the author, coauthor, editor, or coeditor of 18 books on energy and climate change topics, including those with MIT Press, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, and the Nature Publishing Group/Palgrave.  He has received or managed large competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. National Science Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, NordForsk, Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program of Denmark, and the Danish Council for Independent Research.  

16th February
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Bianca Cavicchi
Are there sustainability limits to bioenergy development in Norway? Evidence from Hedmark county
 

Abstract

This presentation draws on the case of bioheat development in Hedmark County (Southeastern Norway). Hedmark is one of the few national hubs for bioenergy production. Although the sector has recently flourished, it can hardly upscale or diversify into new bioproducts. Current research and public/political debate attribute this to the hydropower lock-in and low price of biomass (for the suppliers). However, the study assumes that there might be multiple and complex feedback processes at play. The research questions are thus: ‘What are the feedback causal processes at play within the bioheat system? And which of them seem to foster or hamper its sustainable progress (i.e. economic, environmental and social outcomes)?’ The study will address the issue of sustainable bioheat development in Hedmark from a triple bottom line perspective (i.e. economic, social and environmental processes) and explore feedback causal processes that may hinder or foster it. The study draws on the systems thinking theoretical tradition and employs qualitative systems analysis, i.e. causal loop diagram. Raw data is collected through semi-structured interviews, public documents, statistical reports and relevant literature. Empirical findings (i.e. causal loop diagram) are the result of an iterative and reflexive process of data-matching and validation. 

Bio

Bianca Cavicchi graduated in December 2012 at University of Bologna, Department of Political Science, with a thesis on “Emerging Green Innovation Platforms. A comparative Study on Renewable Energy Policy in Emilia Romagna and Norway” (NILF Report 2013-1). In 2013, she worked as ‘researcher assistant’ and ‘higher executive officer’ on projects related to bioenergy and food safety at Norwegian Institute for Agricultural Economics Research. In February 2014, she has started her PhD project on Sustainable Bioenergy Development in Emilia Romagna (Italy) and Hedmark (Norway) at Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO, Norway) and Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, TIK (University of Oslo). The PhD is settled within a NIBIO’s project (i.e. TRIBORN) financed by the Norwegian Research Council. The PhD should be ended by February 2018. The PhD study is a comparative and exploratory case-study design, which aims to investigate the causal processes of bioenergy development that lead to unsustainable outcomes in the two case-studies. Sustainability is understood in the light of the triple bottom line approach (e.g. Elkington, 1998; Bryden et al., 2011) but its contextual understanding ensues from information gathered through semi-structure interviews with local, regional and national stakeholders. Additionally, the study uses public documents, statistical reports and relevant studies. The study draws on the systems thinking theoretical tradition (Checkland, 1981; Senge 1990; Richardson, 1991; Forrester 1968; Sterman, 2000) and qualitative systems analysis, i.e. causal loop diagrams (see for instance the work of Haraldsson 2000, 2004; Maani, 2002; Maani and Cavana, 2007; Spector et al., 2001; Cavana and Mares, 2004; Haraldsson et al. 2006).

17th February
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Jochen Markard (ETH Zurich)
Complementarities: Chances and challenges for the energy transition
SPRU Wednesday Seminar Series

Abstract

The study of socio-technical transitions, in which sectors such as energy or transportation change fundamentally and along multiple dimensions, represents a challenge for existing frameworks in innovation studies. One of the issues is that transitions involve changes in a broad range of interrelated technologies. However, not only do technologies change but also they ways in which they interact and complement each other. Complementary interaction of technical and non-technical components is key for the provision of services such as energy supply, Missing complementary components in contrast may hamper the emergence of new technologies or negatively affect sector performance.

Therefore, it is vital to understand the implications of changes in complementarities in the course of transitions. In the presentation, I will introduce a framework to analyze complementarities and to understand their consequences for transitions. The framework consists of four building blocks: i) different relationships, ii) different components, iii) different purposes and iv) complementarity dynamics. Applicability of the framework will be illustrated with examples from the ongoing energy transition. Finally, I discuss so-called ‘complementarity bottlenecks’ and resulting challenges.

Bio

Jochen Markard works as a Senior researcher and Lecturer at the Group for Sustainability and Technology within the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics of ETH Zurich.In his research, Jochen studies the interaction of technology, actor strategies, politics, society and culture. A focus is on the emergence of new technological fields, which have a potential to contribute to larger societal transformation and sustainability transition. Jochen works with a range of different theoretical perspectives in search for theory development and complementary explanations of complex phenomena. He applies concepts from innovation and transition studies, management studies, science and technology studies, and political sciences.

19th February
13:00 - 16:00
Jubilee 144
Gordon Walker (Lancaster University)
Lancaster without electricity and practices without power: reflections on disruption, dependencies and demand
SPRU Friday Seminar Series

The seminar is followed by a Roundtable on ‘Learning from the making: consequences and politics of power cuts’.  Panellists: Sarah Royston; Nikki Fox; Sandra Pointel

Chair: Florian Kern

Abstract

On 5th December 2015 Storm Desmond swept across the North West of England, its rainfall streaming into already swollen rivers and into roads, homes and businesses across the region. In Lancaster the River Lune broke the record for the highest flow of water ever recorded in the UK, overtopping flood defences and flowing into, amongst much else, the main electricity sub-station for the City. Grid-bound electricity disappeared at 10.30pm on Saturday evening, remained absent for 30 hours, returned at 6.00am on Monday as over 60 generators were connected up to local substations, failed again over much of the City late afternoon, and eventually returned in a more permanent but fragile condition on Tuesday. The phalanx of generators stayed in place for about a week until full national grid supply was restored. This was an extended event, a ‘blackout’, a crisis, rarely experienced on a City scale in the UK. In this paper I provide some preliminary analysis of what can be learnt from the absence of normal electricity due to this instance of big technological system and infrastructural failure, drawing on my own reflections but also of colleagues in the DEMAND Centre and other parts of Lancaster University (which itself experienced a difficult case of crisis management). David Nye (2010) argues that ‘blackouts’ are carved out of the normal flow of time, a social experience creating ‘a new kind of social space’. They are revealing not just of normally hidden infrastructures (cables, substations, security systems, communication systems) but also of the creeping panoply of electrical dependencies, the ‘latent dysfunctionalities’ of the contemporary city and of the exercise of power through power. I will explore some of these ideas and particularly focus on what ‘blackouts’, and the Lancaster case in particular, can tell us about the constitution and patterning of energy demand. Starting from a conceptualisation of energy as a material ‘ingredient’ of everyday social practice (Shove and Walker 2014), I consider what happens when this ingredient is missing - when expected energy is not there in order to power technologies which are integral to doing things in particular ways, in particular places, times, sequences and synchronisations? How vital an ingredient is electricity for enabling which practices and for which practitioners, and what, now, are the key fragilities of systemic dysfunctionality? Where are the dependencies, adaptabilities, substitutabilities and vulnerabilities which differentiate the experience of disruption? And when the electricity grid as an ongoing technical achievement becomes unstable, what cannot be sustained and what becomes most important to secure? In starting to work through these questions I will also reflect on the nature of demand itself, which never went away during the blackout and returned strikingly intact in its aftermath as social order, social routines and normally followed space-time pathways were reinstated.

Bio

Professor Gordon Walker is Co-Director of the DEMAND Centre (Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand) at Lancaster University, funded by the RCUK Energy Programme. He has expertise on the social and spatial dimensions of sustainable energy technologies, sustainability transitions, sustainable social practices and cross cutting issues and theories of energy and environmental justice. He has led a series of multi-partner projects funded by UK research councils and government departments focused on the dynamics of energy demand, community energy, fuel and energy poverty, zero carbon housing, energy use in care settings, fuel poverty, renewable energy and public engagement and flooding and resilience. His books include ‘Environmental Justice: concepts, evidence and politics’ (Routledge, 2012) and as co-editor ‘Energy Justice in a Changing Climate: social equity and low carbon energy’ (Zed 2013).

 

23rd February
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Walt Patterson
Electricity vs fire: the fight for our future

Abstract

When you examine what we do and how we do it, we are clearly doing something wrong. Otherwise we would not be in such a mess. We are telling ourselves the wrong story about what we do. We need a better story about our human activities. The story we have come to believe is based on fire. We use fire all the time, every day and everywhere. But fire is causing us ever more serious problems, from local air pollution to global climate change. We take fire for granted, as though we had no alternative. But we do have. We can now do with electricity most of what we used to do with fire. Electricity - the right kind of electricity - can save us from fire. But we have to change our story.

Bio

Walt Patterson is a UK-based Canadian physicist and widely published writer and campaigner on energy. Patterson was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and educated at the University of Manitoba. Patterson arrived in the United Kingdom in 1960. Trained as a nuclear physicist, Patterson has spent his life teaching, writing and campaigning. In 1972, he became Friends of the Earth's first energy campaigner (1972–78) at their London office. In 1984-5, Patterson acted as series advisor to the award-winning BBC drama series Edge of Darkness. Patterson has published fourteen books and hundreds of papers, articles and reviews, on nuclear power, coal technology, renewable energy, energy systems, energy policy, and electricity. Since 1991 Patterson has been a Fellow of what is now the Energy, Environment and Resources Programme at Chatham House in London. He is also a Fellow of the Energy Institute, London, and a Visiting Fellow of the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex. He is chair of the Seoul International Energy Advisory Council and a founder-member of the International Energy Advisory Council.

26th February
13:00 - 14:30
IDS Room 221
Dario Kenner
How can the ecological impact of the richest 1% be reduced at a time of extreme inequality?
STEPS 

Abstract

Recent research by Oxfam and French economists Thomas Piketty and Lucas Chancel indicates that the richest 1% of people in many countries, including the United Kingdom, have huge per capita carbon footprints compared to the rest of the population. The fact that richer people have a larger ecological impact is not that surprising. The question is what to do about it. Dario Kenner, who has recently published a working paper on the inequality of overconsumption, will talk about the difficulty in getting the richest 1% to reduce their negative impact on the environment.

Bio

Dario Kenner is an independent researcher who launched whygreeneconomy.org in 2013 as a space to share ideas on the policies that should be adopted to address climate change and biodiversity loss. He has extensive experience of working on the environment and in international development, including lobbying at UN climate change conferences and Rio+20. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.

 

29th February
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G31
Irene Monasterolo
A hybrid System Dynamics – Agent Based model to assess the role of green fiscal and monetary policies

Abstract

To meet the 2°C global temperature increase by 2050, the role of fiscal instruments e.g., a global carbon tax, is recognized. Still, there is uncertainty about the design of a green financial architecture and the effects of a carbon tax on growth, financial stability and inequality. We propose the εIRIN System Dynamics model with heterogeneous agents to simulate green fiscal and targeted monetary policies displaying their effects on firm’s investments, unemployment, wages and economic growth. Rooted on a balance sheet approach, the model is characterized by heterogeneous agents and sectors (households, banks, consumption and capital goods production, foreign sector, Government and Central Bank) that interact through a set of markets. The production function is based on a Leontief technology with no substitution of the three production factors (Labour, Capital, and non-renewable Raw Materials). We explicit an energy sector characterized by mining and extracting companies, renewable energy (solar, wind) and brown and green utility companies that contribute to energy production (capital goods and consumption goods) and is subject to import of fossil fuels to meet internal demand. Thus it impacts on consumption goods firm and commercial banks’ balance sheet, and on households’ income allocation choices. The simulations show that a green scenario based on the introduction of green sovereign bonds would bring benefits both for the real economy (unemployment, capital) and the stability of the credit market as a difference from a green scenario based on the introduction of a carbon tax. Also, the green bond scenario performs better than the business as usual, resource intense brown scenario. 

Bio

Irene Monasterolo is a development economist with experience in policy monitoring and evaluation, climate finance and stranded assets risk, complex system thinking applied to the analysis of coupled human-natural systems, green fiscal and monetary policies for financing the green economy, governance of evidence based sustainability policies, adaptation tools to build agricultural resilience to climate change. She has worked as a scientist in academia, as an economist for consulting companies in Central and Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans, and as a consultant for several Multilateral Development Banks such as the World Bank, European Investment Bank and Inter-American Development Bank. Currently, she is a post-doctoral associate at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer Range Future where she works at the development of a methodological framework to assess climate change risk of impact on financial and macroeconomic stability, and on food risk. She is actively involved in governmental and academic dissemination and publication, authoring both methodological papers on modelling sustainability using hybrid System Dynamics-Agent Based models embracing an evolutionary economics approach, and on best practices and lessons learned to inform governmental policy planning and implementation. Since October she coordinates the research area on Environment-Economics interaction of the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy in collaboration with Prof. Tim Foxon.

1st March
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Paula Kivimaa (SPRU)
Energy services for improved building energy efficiency in Finland: taking an energy service company perspective on policy

Abstract

The building sector and the built environment are one of the largest contributors to energy use worldwide and reducing energy use in buildings is slow. Thus, low energy transition in connection to buildings is an enormous challenge. Yet, in Finland, improved energy efficiency has traditionally received less focus in climate policy strategies than renewable energy. Since 2007, energy efficiency policies addressing buildings have gained force on both strategy and instrument levels– largely following the EU Building Energy Efficiency Directive and the goals for reducing emissions by 80% by 2050. Sixteen new policy instruments have been added between 2007 and 2014 in addition to revisions made in the building code

In the seminar, I analyse the potential of the policy mix in Finland in promoting disruptive change for low energy transition in buildings. I explore to what extent recent policy developments could be described as having destabilised the regime. In addition to providing an overall picture of the policy mix in the sector, I investigate the existing policy mix especially from a stakeholder perspective, because the perceived impacts of policies may differ from their intended outcomes. Companies providing integrated energy services for renovated and newly built buildings are selected as the key stakeholder group, as they are more borderline actors in the sector dominated by construction companies. 

Bio

Dr. Kivimaa is Senior Research Fellow at SPRU working for the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED). Her previous research ranges from climate, energy and environmental policy analysis from the perspective of innovation to  examining change and stability in energy and transport systems. Her current research interests include policy analysis from low-carbon innovation and transition perspectives as well as policy complementing approaches to support low-carbon innovation, such as  intermediation. She has a BSc in Environmental Science & Business Management (University of Westminster, 1997-2000), an MSc  in Environmental Technology (Imperial College, 2001-2002) and a PhD in Organisations and Management (Helsinki School of Economics, 2004-2008). Prior to joining SPRU she has worked for 12 years as a researcher in the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). She has since 2012 been Docent in the Department of Management and International Business at the Aalto University School of Business, Helsinki.

8th March
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Keith Barnham
Progress towards all renewable power supplies

Abstract 

The euphoria following the COP21 agreement has been replaced by realisation of the challenge the environmental movement faces to get the UK government to change its policies so as to achieve the carbon reductions necessary to fulfil the pledge it signed in Paris. This talk will report the latest evidence [1] from Germany and the UK that all-renewable electricity supplies based on wind, photovoltaic and biogas power are closer than many think. They are also reliable and lead to cheaper electricity. Setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation would be the fastest, safest and cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions. Given that the present UK government is unlikely to impose such limits I will suggest how they could be implemented locally. I will also discuss renewable replacements for natural gas. The final part of the talk will briefly discuss new technologies that could help accelerate this solar revolution in the future. In particular, high efficiency concentrator photovoltaics and an artificial leaf could make the generation of solar fuel possible from atmospheric carbon dioxide and sunlight on domestic rooftops.  

1)      Keith Barnham, Kaspar Knorr, Massimo Mazzer, “Recent progress towards all-renewable electricity supplies” Nature Materials, 15 (2), pp. 115-116, (2016).

Bio

Keith Barnham started his research career in particle physics at the University of Birmingham, CERN and the University of California, Berkeley. Mid-career, at Imperial College London, he switched to researching solar power after spending a year at Philips Research Laboratories in Redhill. His Quantum Photovoltaic group at Imperial developed a third generation solar cell with three times the efficiency of today’s rooftop panels. He is co-author of the only published study of the amount and destination of plutonium produced in the UK civil Magnox reactors. He is author of The Burning Answer: a User’s Guide to the Solar Revolution, (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2014).

11th March
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee 144
Robert Byrne (SPRU) and David Ockwell (Global Studies, Sussex)
Sustainable energy for all: innovation, technology and pro-poor green transformations
SPRU Friday Seminar Series

The seminar is followed by a Roundtable on ‘Pro-poor pathways of sustainable energy access’. Panelists: Chantal Naidoo; Lucy Baker; Martin Bell

Abstract 

Despite decades of effort and billions of dollars spent, two thirds of the people in sub-Saharan Africa still lack access to electricity, a vital pre-cursor to economic development and poverty reduction. Ambitious international policy commitments seek to address this, but scholarship has failed to keep pace with policy ambitions, lacking both the empirical basis and the theoretical perspective to inform such transformative policy aims. In this presentation, we elaborate our claim that scholarship is failing policy. But, going beyond this critique, we identify ways in which a new theoretical perspective based on socio-technical innovation system building could redress this failure. We offer potential elements of this new perspective and, drawing on historical analysis of the Kenyan solar PV market, show how it could be operationalised for policy and practice. Finally, we outline an agenda for research, and for policy and practice, that arises from this new perspective. Although our argument is articulated in detail in a book to be published by Routledge in June 2016, we recognise that the work is only a beginning. In this regard, then, the seminar provides an opportunity for us to offer these ideas for critical review, and hope that others will engage with us in an endeavour to develop a useful academic contribution to the challenge of realising pro-poor pathways of sustainable energy access.

Bio  

David Ockwell is Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Sussex. He is also Deputy Director (Research) of the ESRC STEPS Centre, a Senior Fellow in the Sussex Energy Group at SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research) and a Fellow of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. David's teaching, doctoral supervision and applied policy work focuses on climate and energy policy with a particular emphasis on low carbon technology transfer and development, and on public engagement with climate change. Through this work he has provided policy advice to various inter-governmental organisations (including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat, African Development Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat and OECD Environment Directorate) and governmental departments in developed and developing countries (including the UK, India and Chile).

Rob Byrne is a Lecturer in SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit) at the University of Sussex. With David Ockwell, Rob co-convenes the Energy and Climate Research Domain of the ESRC STEPS Centre. He is also a Research Fellow in the Sussex Energy Group and a Fellow of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Rob sits on the board of the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network and is a member of Climate Strategies. His research is focussed on sustainable energy access and poverty reduction, especially in East African contexts. Rob is also engaged in policy advice, including consulting with various bilateral and multilateral agencies and institutions such as DFID, DECC, the World Bank, the UNFCCC Secretariat and Technology Mechanism, and African Development Bank, amongst others.

15th March
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Chris Shaw (Climate Outreach)
Communicating climate change: pitfalls and opportunities

Abstract

Public engagement with climate change has long been a topic of interest to social scientists, civil society groups, and policy makers. Getting engagement right is becoming increasingly important given the urgent need to meet ambitious emission reduction targets. Yet the evidence from opinion polls and research indicates that public engagement initiatives have had little impact on levels of concern about climate change. Climate Outreach has over ten years experience of researching, developing and trialling climate change communication strategies for a range of clients. This seminar will draw on that expertise and knowledge to explain some of the reasons for these failings. Insights gained from the work of  Climate Outreach will be used to explore opportunities for more effective climate communication techniques.

Bio

Chris has ten years experience of researching climate policy and climate communications. In that time he has successfully delivered research projects for the Environmental Change Institute, The University of Nottingham, Sussex University and the Institute of Development Studies. He is an Associate of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and a Visiting Fellow at the Sussex Energy Group. His new book, ‘The Two Degrees Dangerous Limit for Climate Change: Public Understanding and Decision Making’ (Routledge) was published in October 2015.

 

4th April
14:00 - 15:00
Jubilee 117
Shapan Adnan
The political economy of green grabs: The roles of capitalist and primitive accumulation in climate change mitigation and adaptation

Abstract

In this talk, I deal with the nature of the accumulative processes embodied in green grabs (Farihead, Leach & Scoones 2012) – understood as the appropriation of land and natural resources in the specific context of environmental processes and policy interventions. The latter subsumes climate change impacts and responses in terms of mitigation and adaptation - inclusive of instances of maladaptation or anti-adaptation (Sovacool & Linner 2016) - as well as ecotourism and conservation projects unrelated to climate change.

Land alienation can be direct or indirect, and can take place with or without the use of force (coercion), giving a fourfold typology of the nature of the mechanisms at work: direct-forced, direct-unforced, indirect-forced and indirect-unforced. The relevance of this broad typology to green grabs is illustrated with selected evidence from around the world, also serving to highlight the analytical diversity of land alienation mechanisms characterizing environmental processes and policy interventions.

The concepts of primitive accumulation (Marx 1976) and accumulation by dispossession or ABD (Harvey 2005) in the context of neoliberal globalization have been used by scholars to theorize green grabs (Kelly 2011, Benjaminsen & Bryceson 2012). However, in certain contexts, such usage appears to have been somewhat uncritical. For instance, it is necessary to differentiate primitive accumulation from instances of green grabs that may involve centralization and accumulation of capital, or no accumulation at all. It is also pertinent to identify causal interlinkages between these distinct accumulative processes, e.g. whether primitive accumulation is being driven by the needs of capitalist accumulation in setting up protected areas like eco-parks?

Moreover, the claimed environmental benefits of biofuels and other climate change mitigation and adaptation measures remain disputed and uncertain (White & Dasgupta 2010). This raises the issue of whether considerations other than the claimed benefits are driving particular instances of environmental policy interventions such as climate change mitigation and adaptation? More generally, whether science-society discourses are being used as pretexts or legitimizing devices for green grabs driven by other motives (McCarthy et al. 2012)?

Bio

Shapan Adnan has a BA (Honours) from the University of Sussex and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is currently an independent academic living in the UK. He has formerly been a faculty member of the National University of Singapore as well as the Universities of Dhaka and Chittagong. He has been a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford and continues to be an Associate of its Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme.  Shapan Adnan is a member of the international advisory board of the Journal of Peasant Studies and the international Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission. The topics of his research and publications extend across political economy, sociology, anthropology and development. His books include Floods, People and the Environment; Migration, Land Alienation and Ethnic Conflict: Causes of poverty in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh; and Annotation of Village Studies in Bangladesh and West Bengal.

5th April
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Francis McGowan (Dept of Politics, Sussex)
Brexit: Its impact on the UK and the EU’s Energy-Climate Policies

Abstract

Throughout the history of its membership of the EU, the UK has been important in shaping and limiting the Union’s energy and climate policies.  In other respects, UK policies in these areas have been “Europeanised”, a development welcomed by environmentalists and criticized by Eurosceptics.  Both groups consider that Brexit would allow a British government to abandon those policy commitments.  This talk considers whether such an outcome is likely and how different post-membership relationships would affect the evolution of policy in both the UK and the EU. 

Bio

Francis McGowan is a senior lecturer in the Department of Politics at the University of Sussex.  Prior to joining the Department he was a Research Fellow in the Sussex Energy Group at SPRU and a Researcher at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. His current research focuses on European energy policies.

12th April
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Robert Sansom (Imperial)
The challenges of decarbonising space and water heating

Abstract

More energy is consumed in the UK for heat than either transport or electricity and yet until recently little attention has been given to decarbonising heat to meet the UK's 2050 greenhouse gas targets.  The challenges are immense as over 80% of households in the UK use natural gas for space and water heating.  To achieve the UK's greenhouse gas targets will necessitate heat to be almost completely decarbonised and will thus require a transition from natural gas for heating to a low carbon alternative.  However, there is a lack of consensus over which low carbon heat technologies householders should be encouraged to adopt as projections of these vary significantly.  Initially heat pumps appeared to be favoured as there was a view that they offered a direct replacement option for gas boilers.  But subsequently, it became clear that heat pumps had a number of drawbacks and that other options warranted serious consideration. These include district heating but also the “re-purposing” of the gas network so that hydrogen can be used to replace natural gas.

This talk will identify the key challenges that need to be addressed in order to support the UK’s meeting its 2050 GHG targets.

Bio

Robert Sansom has nearly 30 years’ experience in the UK’s electricity industry. This includes power station operations and maintenance, engineering consultancy, networks (transmission and distribution), energy strategy, power project development, energy procurement and risk management. In November 2009 he left EDF Energy and subsequently commenced a PhD at Imperial College, London University investigating how the UK can decarbonise low grade heat for space and water heating.

Robert’s career started with the CEGB in 1979 and he then went into engineering consultancy with before returning to the CEGB where he specialised in generation planning economics. He then joined the South Eastern Electricity Board prior to its privatisation in 1989 and had a number of roles encompassing energy trading, generation and network infrastructure projects and strategy and regulation.  Robert joined EDF Energy in 2002 as Managing Director - Energy Portfolio Risk Management where his responsibilities included electricity and gas asset portfolio strategy, hedging and tariff strategy, regulation, energy policy and risk control. In June 2008 he was appointed Director of Strategy and Sustainable Development where he was responsible for EDF Energy’s corporate strategy and sustainability agenda.

He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a member of its Energy Policy Panel.

19th April
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Anthony Probert (Bioregional)
One Planet living in the built environment

Abstract

Bioregional developed the concept and framework of One Planet Living in 2005, after design and construction of the BedZED eco-village in South West London. Underpinned by ten principles of sustainability, One Planet Living has been used to plan and deliver development all over the world by local and national government, housebuilders, corporates, communities and events organisers. Brighton and Hove adopted One Planet Living in 2013 as a way to coordinate and communicate their sustainability plans. In this seminar, we will understand what One Planet Living is, how it was developed and what are its metrics, before looking at how successful it has been for the city, and how its application on international built environment projects can result in the formation of truly sustainable communities.

Bio

A specialist in developing sustainability plans for large built environment projects, Anthony works with businesses, developers and local authorities to plan and deliver green initiatives. In 2014, Anthony produced sustainability plans for large urban extensions to two of Finland’s biggest cities, Helsinki and Jyvaskyla. In 2013, he assisted Brighton & Hove City Council in developing the city’s sustainability action plan and now, working from our Brighton office, he supports its delivery. Between 2012 and 2014, Anthony managed the £1.4m Heart of Hackbridge regeneration project which has helped create a thriving, sustainable local centre in Hackbridge by improving the public realm and helping businesses to attract more custom and reduce their environmental impact. Anthony’s background is in sustainable construction. Before joining Bioregional, Anthony worked as a sustainability consultant with Phlorum, an environmental consultancy in Brighton. He led a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project developing a tool that evaluates the life-cycle carbon emissions of construction projects, now used by Brighton & Hove City Council’s planning department.

26th April
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Kirsten Firth (The Church of England, Msc Energy Policy alumnus)
Stewardship and living sustainably: addressing climate change in the Church of England

Abstract

The Church of England is a large complex organisation, evolved over centuries at the heart of the Establishment, and holding many of the treasures of the UK's national built heritage, along with schools, farmland and forestry.  It is spatially dispersed, and yet is listened to at the highest levels of national and international government, and can reach people across the world.  In July 2015, it issued the Lambeth Declaration, a wide-ranging call to faith communities to combat climate change and for a spiritual and cultural transformation. In the Church's own estate, the practical challenges of cutting carbon emissions include working in ancient buildings, a decentralised (and sometimes volunteer) administration, and the need to bring carbon reduction into the mainstream.

Kirsten Firth, Environmental Policy Officer, Church of England
Reading SPRU's Energy Policy for Sustainability MSc in 2014-15 was a turning point. After a career in social housing policy, tackling homelessness and housing supply in London local authorities, and delivering domestic energy efficiency projects, I became convinced that reducing our carbon footprint is the single top priority for the next decade - both in public policy and in our own lives. Outside work, I'm a member of Transition Town Lewes, leading on sustainability in the local Neighbourhood Plan, and also involved in a new initiative to plant trees to improve flood resilience.

3rd May
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Tim Chatterton (UWE)
Energy consumption from private motor vehicles – exploring a rich new dataset

Annual mileage readings for every private vehicle in the UK!  Linked to the location of the registered keeper!  What more could a researcher into transport and energy want?

Quite a bit more, as it turns out…. However, there is plenty of new and interesting analysis that is afforded by the public release of the UK motor vehicle inspection database.  The MOT (Motoring and vehicle Ownership and Trends) project (www.MOTproject.net) is a 4-year RCUK Energy Programme projects that, working with the Department of Transport, is examining the potential uses of this new dataset.  Through providing an estimate of annual mileage for over 30 million vehicles annually, and linking these to details of make/model, age, fuel type and engine size, it is possible to take an entirely new approach to the assessment of emissions and energy use from the private vehicle fleet.  By linking the data to the census area of the registered keeper, a new geography of emissions and energy use from transport can be developed.

This talk will describe the pros and cons of the dataset, and present a range of energy related analyses that have been undertaken using the dataset to explore social and spatial variations in energy demand from private vehicles and its relationship to domestic energy consumption.

Bio

Tim is a Senior Research Fellow in Energy and Environment at the University of the West of England.  He has spent 20 years working at the interface of science and policy across the fields of air pollution, climate change and energy.  His work also covers both social and physical sciences.  He was involved in managing the UK Local Air Quality Management programme in the UK for Defra and the Devolved Administrations for over a decade, and spent a year on an ESRC Fellowship based in the Department of Energy and Climate Change looking at “Individuals’ and Communities’ Energy Behaviours” (their title not his!). He has also been involved in a range of work internationally – both for the European Commission and in a number of developing countires.

7th June
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee 118
Emily Tyler (University of Cape Town)
A complexity underpinning for domestic climate mitigation policy in South Africa

Abstract

Current approaches to climate mitigation policy worldwide are dominated by a modernist paradigm and tools.  These are argued as being insufficient for engaging with the socio-economic transformation that the climate mitigation challenge presents, particularly in a developing country context.  This paper explores the proposition that a complex systems approach may provide a more useful conceptual underpinning for understanding and developing domestic climate mitigation policy in a developing country context, using South Africa as a case study.

Framing South African climate mitigation policy as a system contextualised by, and radically open to, the broader South African social, technological, economic, environmental, physical and political system highlights the properties and mechanisms of complex social systems, thereby re-ordering policy priorities and leverage points.  But further, a complexity frame or paradigm is a radical departure from its modernist predecessor.  The complexity principles that underpin this frame suggest different entry points, foci and practices as being appropriate for the South African climate mitigation policy community.

Bio

An economist by training, Emily has worked on the climate change mitigation challenge since 2001, first in Europe and subsequently in South Africa where her development interest and perspective continues to shape her thinking and career path. Emily has predominantly worked as a consultant, to local and international civil society, the private sector, government and academia, both independently and in consulting firms and not-for-profit institutions.  Her focus has spanned carbon footprinting, corporate strategies, the Clean Development Mechanism, Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, Low Carbon Development Strategies, national government carbon pricing policies and low carbon transition planning, energy policy, carbon budgeting and most recently, engaging complex systems theory and interdisciplinarity to approach mitigation in a development context. 

Autumn 2015
23rd September
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G35
Jesse Burton and Tara Caetano (University of Cape Town Energy Research Centre)
Stranded assets in South Africa: an assessment of the socio-economic implications of carbon budgets in South Africa

Abstract

In South Africa coal is an important input into the country’s energy-intensive and carbon-intensive economy. Yet the combustion of coal is the highest contributor to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The South African economy is highly reliant on coal for the production of electricity (92 per cent), liquid fuels (30 per cent), and in direct industrial use.  For many, there is an assumption that without coal in the South African economy, the country would be sacrificing growth, jobs, competitiveness and other necessary conditions for development. We argue, on the other hand, that even with significant coal resources that have been utilised to provide cheap electricity and other forms of energy, that the South Africa economy remains fragile and inequitable. A key question we interrogate therefore is how to balance the economic costs of transitioning away from coal and coal-related assets while also improving the socio economic wellbeing of the country.

We examine the socio economic impacts of different carbon budget scenarios on the South African economy. Conflict and confusion over the impacts of the implementation of climate mitigation policy may lock South Africa into a high emissions future that does not meet development goals. We assess the risks of investing in assets that could become stranded in light of global and national climate mitigation objectives.

Bios

Jesse Burton: is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre (ERC). Her doctoral research is on the evolution of state-business relations in post-apartheid South Africa and how this has affected energy and minerals policy processes. Her areas of expertise include the coal sector, electricity policy and planning, minerals policy, industrial policy and political economy.  Jesse runs the ERC's Masters programme on Energy Policy and teaches on energy policy, markets, and climate change.

Tara Caetano: Tara Caetano joined the Energy, Environment and Climate Change Group in February 2015. Prior to this she was based at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg, where she focused on trying to find ‘win-win’ scenarios for emissions reduction and development in the South African context. She has also worked as a consultant on a number of projects focused on the economics of climate change, development, poverty alleviation and low carbon development. Tara’s research interests are primarily focused on climate change and development and pursuing a development-first approach to climate change.

29th September
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Colin Nolden (SPRU/CIED)
Selling energy services: status and opportunities - CANCELED
30th Sept
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
John Barrett (University of Leeds)
Linking the economy and energy sector: production and consumption changes for a low material and carbon future
SPRU Wednesday Seminar Series

Abstract:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides robust evidence demonstrating the need to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) rapidly to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. The UK Government defines its contribution towards this goal as achieving an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 from a 1990 baseline. Mitigation efforts to reduce industrial energy has been limited in the UK and focusing on energy efficiency opportunities with little thought of the purpose and end goal of industrial energy. Ultimately, all industrial energy use is a result of demand for goods and services. Energy is required at each stage in the manufacture of a product from raw material extraction through to the final distribution and ultimately disposal.

The presentation considers whether the UK has achieved a reduction in energy demand or whether energy has been outsourced with materials and products being the “carrier” of industrial energy. As other sectors show some signs of decarbonisation, industrial energy demand grows as savings in direct energy unlock further demand for products. By linking wider economic activities with the energy agenda, the presentation demonstrates the need for a systematic “economy wide” approach to climate change mitigation.  

Biography:

John holds a Chair in Sustainability Research at the Sustainable Research Institute (SRI), University of Leeds. His research interests include sustainable consumption and production (SCP) modelling, carbon accounting and exploring the transition to a low carbon pathway. John has been an advisor to the UK Government on the development of carbon footprint standards and continues to work with the UK Government on “Consumption-based Emissions” being responsible for providing the headline indicator for the UK. John also works closely with other government bodies such as the Committee on Climate Change having provided advice on carbon leakage, consumption based scenarios, embodied emissions and policy options. John is also the director of CIE-MAP, a £4 million initiative funded by the UK Research Council centres. In addition, John is the co-director of UKERC, the multidisciplinary research centre established through the Research Council’s Energy Programme.  John is an accomplished public speaker having presented to Government Select Committees and regularly appearing on Radio 4 while the research is regularly covered in the broad sheet media. John has managed numerous research projects and a large research team for over 15 years. John is also a lead author for the International Panel on Climate Change, Working Group III.

 

6th Oct
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Adam Whitmore
Can carbon pricing support innovation and investment – lessons from international experience
SLIDES AVAILABLE

Abstract

There is now an increasing range of evidence from around the world on design of carbon pricing schemes and how they work in practice.  This seminar will consider what lessons can be drawn from this experience, especially as regards to supporting innovation and investment.  Among other things it considers the role of industry, which has often been seen as an obstacle in the past, but can play a much more constructive role in building a low carbon future.

Bio

Adam Whitmore is an expert on climate change policy who advises a range of public and private sector entities.  He was previously Chief Advisor on energy and climate change policy to one of the world’s hundred largest companies, was Chief Economist and company trying to develop CCS projects, and before that a Director responsible for energy economics consulting at a large professional services firm.   He writes a regular blog on climate change policy.  

Carbon pricing and investment  - Adam Whitmore seminar SLIDES

13th Oct
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Richard Tol (BMEC, Sussex University)
Economic impacts of climate change

Abstract

Climate change will probably have a limited impact on the economy and human welfare in the 21st century. The initial impacts of climate change may well be positive. In the long run, the negative impacts dominate the positive ones. Negative impacts will be substantially greater in poorer, hotter, and lower-lying countries. Poverty reduction complements greenhouse gas emissions reduction as a means to reduce climate change impacts. Climate change may affect the growth rate of the economy and may trap more people in poverty but quantification is difficult. The optimal carbon tax in the near term is somewhere between a few tens and a few hundreds of dollars per tonne of carbon.

Bio

Richard S.J. Tol is a Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Sussex and the Professor of the Economics of Climate Change, Institute for Environmental Studies and Department of Spatial Economics, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is a member of the Academia Europaea. Previously, he was a Research Professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin, the Michael Otto Professor of Sustainability and Global Change at Hamburg University and an Adjunct Professor, Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. He has had visiting appointments at the Canadian Centre for Climate Research, University of Victoria, British Colombia, at the Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, University College London, and at the Princeton Environmental Institute and the Department of Economics, Princeton University. He specialises in the economics of energy, environment, and climate, and is interested in tourism and scientometrics.

3rd Nov
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Tim Foxon (SPRU)
Investing in low carbon transitions: Energy finance as an Adaptive Market

Abstract

This talk presents the findings of a recent paper drawing on analysis of Electricity Market Reform and renewable energy finance in the UK. The amount of capital required for a transition of energy systems to low-carbon futures is very large, yet the role of capital markets in financing energy transitions has been little analysed. This is surprising given the huge role finance and investment must play in facilitating transformative change. The paper argues this has been due to a lack of suitable theory to supplant neo-classical notions of capital markets and innovation finance. This research draws on Grubb et al’s (2014) notion that planetary economics is defined by three ‘domains’, which describe behavioural, neoclassical and evolutionary aspects of energy and climate policy analysis. We identify first and second domain theories of finance that are well established, but argue third domain approaches, relating to evolutionary systems change, have lacked a compatible theory of capital markets. The paper argues for the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis as a suitable framework to analyse energy systems finance. With an understanding of financial markets as adaptive, scholars and policy makers can ask new questions about the role of capital markets in energy systems transitions.

Bio

Tim Foxon is Professor of Sustainability Transitions at SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit). His research explores the technological and social factors relating to the innovation of new energy technologies, the co-evolution of technologies and institutions for a transition to a sustainable low carbon economy, and relations and interdependencies between energy use and economic growth. His current research focuses on Realising transition pathways to a UK low carbon electricity system (EPSRC), examining business models for local low carbon infrastructure (EPSRC/ESRC), and the relations between energy use and economic growth. He was previously a Reader in Sustainability and Innovation at the University of Leeds, and Research Associate/Lecturer at Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge.

 

10th Nov
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Giovanna Speciale (South East London Community Energy)
Community responses to fuel poverty - POSTPONED

POSTPONED TO NEXT TERM, EXACT DATE TBC

11th Nov
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Ralitsa Hiteva, Gordon Mackerron, Noam Bergman, Mari Martiskainen and Jonathan Dolley
Discussants: Johan Schot and Ralitsa Hiteva
Engaging the Urban
SPRU Wednesday Seminar Series

Abstract: 

Cities are potent spaces for bringing into question the multiple and fragmented nature of regimes and becoming spaces of authority through which technologies, resources, norms and beliefs are reassembled. A densely populated space, cramped with innovation, visions, domination and contestation, it allows more prominence to individual systems, regimes and niches, and the dynamics between them. It brings forward dimensions of sustainability not traditionally involved in transition studies, such as capability for coordinating, relating to, interlinking, and for social innovation, introducing new categories of actors such as legal guardians, the informal sector and squatters.

SPRU’s work on cities explores the urban politics of transitions by focusing on technological and social innovations, spaces for becoming and engagement of practices for provision and consumption; and the relationship between the urban environment and human well-being in governance and planning.

The session will provide brief summaries of several projects currently underway in SPRU which work on urban spaces and dynamics (see more details about the projects below) and will attempt to start a discussion on the strengths of SPRU's urban work and the potential to build synergies between research interests. 

Information about the projects:

Ralitsa Hiteva: ResNexus

Using an ecology of practices approach (a constructivist process perspective), the project addresses (the making of) vulnerabilities and resilience at the urban nexus of food, water and energy provision and consumption. The concept of ecology is used to emphasize that a practice is multiply enacted (with fluid and ambiguous boundaries) that relations between practices are multifarious and can change over time. Cities are not treated just as backdrops or seedbeds in which transitions can happen, but as places that make transitions from within, by making new possibilities for practices to exist on equal footing. 

Gordon Mackerron: ARTs

The ARTS project  focusses on the ‘acceleration’ phase of city-region level sustainability transitions and in doing so it follows on an agency perspective – we are interested in the interests of actors, their strategies and the overall politics of transitions.  This is done within an explicit focus on multi-level governance, and focusses on four dimensions that may hold potential for acceleration (development of TI initiatives, their interactions locally, their embeddedness within city-region governance and their position within wider governance contexts).  Evidence of acceleration is seen in ways of organising, of thinking and of doing.

Noam Bergman: Futures of Personal Mobility This project looks at how the future of sustainable transport in the UK is imagined and predicted, considering two innovations, electric vehicles and car clubs, both of which are urban focused due to higher density of population and infrastructure. The aim is to analyse how different explorations of the future portray changes in (auto)mobility, and how assumptions differ between a technological innovation and a more social innovation.

Fiona Marshall: ESPA urban futures, STEPs and ISSC initiatives 

1. ESPA - Risks and Responses to urban futures: Integrating peri-urban/urban synergies into urban development planning for enhanced ecosystem service benefits This project looks at the connections between ecosystem services (ES), livelihoods and poverty in peri-urban areas of South Asia. With case studies on agricultural livelihoods and health (in a number of south Asian cities), it is concerned with the need to rethink the relationship between the urban environment and human well-being and to build urban and regional planning initiatives which engage with peri-urban/urban interactions. The theorisation of linkages between environmental change and poverty draws on multiple literatures – complex adaptive systems, social ecological systems, etc. 

2. Example of STEPS urban project – Environmental health in transitional spaces This project seeks to enhance understanding of how and why particular technological trajectories are dominant, the winners and loses that emerge and the implications for environmental health and social justice. We have also been exploring the possibilities for building alternative more sustainable urban development pathways and to enhance appreciation of them.  These pathways might build upon the skills, ideas and experiences of diverse stakeholders who are generally absent from formal decision making processes, and may bring together often divergent initiatives concerned with the environment and with social justice in urban areas. The case study focus here was on urban waste management – see https://medium.com/hidden-sustainability/waste-not-want-not-db64790361a5

3. ISSC - Water Waste and Sustainable Cities in India Urban areas in India suffer significant challenges associated with water and waste, with direct implications for agriculture, health and food safety. Local innovations, often in informal settings, have resulted in the emergence of multiple alternative urban waste and water management practices. These have potential for enhanced social justice, environmental integrity and synergies across the urban-rural interface. This initiative seeks to develop opportunities to build upon these alternative practices as an integral part of transformative change for sustainable city region planning. We will study the challenges faced in respect of urban sustainability in relation to the origins, drivers and dynamics of the dominant trajectories (pathways) of urbanization in the selected geographical areas; bearing in mind that the trajectories of change have impacted very differently in each of the selected geographies.

Mari Martiskainen: Low Energy Housing Innovations and the role of Intermediaries (LEHII)

The building industry and the built environment are one of the largest contributors to energy and materials use worldwide and buildings throughout their lifecycle account for circa 40% of the total energy use in Europe and the UK. As both building stock renewal and renovation rates are very slow, the sector has been argued to need rapid system level innovation. The research project focuses on building and housing sector innovation in the UK that also delivers increased energy demand reduction potential. It pays particular attention to systemic innovation by focusing on whole house retrofits and zero carbon new built houses. System-level innovations in residential buildings comprise groups of interrelated technologies (e.g. thermal insulation, low energy windows, minimal air leakage, heat recovery, heat pumps, passive solar etc.) and interconnecting services, such as a combination of a new technology and maintenance offered to consumers and/or consumer oriented services. The projects takes a sociotechnical approach to innovation processes and pays particular attention to drivers and barriers, and the impact of intermediary actors in the overall transition.

Jonas Torrens: Claiming Ownership - The Changing Role of Urban Governance in Low Carbon Transitions in Germany And The United Kingdom Focusing on cities attempting to re-establish municipal ownership of energy utilities, I investigate the corresponding changes in governance and the capacity of local governments to promote low-carbon transitions.

Donal Brown:  'Is the existing energy supply paradigm suitable for delivering a low carbon, distributed energy transition; or is a municipal ESCo and mission oriented state finance model necessary?'

24th Nov
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Brenda Pollack (Friends of the Earth)
Fracking: a risky gamble for the UK

Brenda Pollack - Biography

Brenda Pollack is Friends of the Earth’s South East Regional Campaigner . She has worked at Friends of the Earth for over 20 years. She works on regionally significant issues such as fracking and helps local residents lobby decision makers to highlight the risks from fossil fuel exploration. She also supports important renewable energy projects such as the Rampion offshore wind farm.

Title and Abstract of talk

Fracking - a risky gamble for the UK

Why Friends of the Earth thinks fracking is a gamble we do not need to take.How Friends of the Earth has worked with local communities to oppose applications and has kept the UK frack free for over four years.

27th Nov
13:00 - 14:45
Jubilee Lecture Theatre 144
Roger Fouquet (LSE)
Discussant: Steven Sorrell
Long Run Welfare Effects of Energy Services and Technologies (1800-2010)
SPRU Friday Seminar Series

The seminar is followed by a Roundtable on ‘What is the value to society and the economy of technological change?’  Panellists: Gregor Semieniuk; Tim Foxon; Richard Tol

Abstract

This paper investigates the welfare effects of energy services and technologies, and how they have changed in the long run. Using data on consumer expenditure and price elasticities of demand for domestic heating, transport and lighting over the last three hundred years, it provides estimates of how consumer surplus associated with these energy services changed with economic and technological development. It also compares them with estimates of the external costs of energy services to indicate the net welfare effects. Although crude, they suggest that only transport has always provided large net welfare benefits. In particular, the damage associated with accidental fires in the eighteenth century and coal smoke in the nineteenth century may have outweighed the benefits from heating and lighting consumption. This long run perspective can offer insights about the net benefits of future energy services and technologies, of particular relevance to R&D investment in energy technologies and strategies for low carbon pathways.

Bio

Roger Fouquet is Associate Professorial Research Fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. Over the last twenty years, he has been investigating the long run relationship between economic development, energy use and its environmental impacts, using evidence from economic history. His most recent article, with Steve Broadberry in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, offers a new and more detailed picture of European economic development since the medieval era, highlighting the dynamism of European economies prior to the Industrial Revolution. In 2006, his joint article on very long run trends in lighting prices and consumption was chosen for the annual Campbell Watkins Award for Best Paper in The Energy Journal. In 2010, his book, 'Heat, Power and Light: revolutions in energy services', was selected by Choice Magazine as one of its Outstanding Academic Titles. In 2013, he edited the Handbook on Energy and Climate Change, which included many of the leading authorities on the economic analysis of energy and climate change. He is an associate editor of the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics.

 

30th Nov
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Paul Balcombe (Imperial)
Methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the natural gas supply chain: an evidence assessment

Abstract

When you compare natural gas to other fossil fuels such as coal, its combustion generates approximately half as much carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emissions. However, natural gas is also mainly composed of methane, which is itself a strong greenhouse gas, and is emitted at different stages along the natural gas supply chain. While methane dissipates from the atmosphere more quickly than CO2, it is considered to have a higher global warming potential and therefore a more potent short-term effect on climate change than carbon dioxide. The big question is: do these methane emissions along the supply chain undermine natural gas’s lower carbon credentials? Over the last five years, a large number of studies have estimated how much methane is emitted through the whole natural gas supply chain from exploring, extracting, producing, processing and transporting natural gas. These studies have used a variety of methods to understand the issue, but so far have differed significantly in their findings.

The Sustainable Gas Institute (SGI) have undertaken a comprehensive review of all the available global data on both CO2 and methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain to fully understand the scale of the issue. This seminar will summarise the main findings and recommendations of the Institute’s first White Paper. 

Biography

Paul is currently research associate at the Sustainable Gas Institute, Imperial College London, investigating the environmental and economic impacts associated with the natural gas supply chain and determining pathways to reduce these impacts.

Paul moved to the Sustainable Gas Institute from Manchester, where he achieved a first class degree in Chemical Engineering (MEng 2002 – 2006), attained chartered engineer status from his time in industry (2006 – 2010) and then completed his PhD (2010 – 2014). Using environmental life cycle analysis, process simulation and behavioural economic theory, his multi-disciplinary PhD was about how small-scale renewable energy technologies could contribute to meeting UK climate change and energy security targets.

Paul’s research interests involve the environmental, economic and technical assessments of energy industry to answer a number of key questions: how can we decarbonise our energy use whilst maintaining living standards; what role should fossil fuels have in decarbonisation targets; and how can energy policy help us to do this most effectively?

1st Dec
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Matthew Hannon (Imperial)
Lost at Sea? Wave Energy’s Difficult Passage from Concept to Commercialisation

Abstract

The UK established its first large-scale wave energy innovation programme in 1976 in a bid to develop an alternative domestic supply of energy in light of the oil crisis. As such wave energy became the principal focus for renewable energy public RD&D funding during the late 1970s. However, funding rapidly declined during the 1980s after the programme was discontinued due to a perceived lack of progress and a shift in political support towards nuclear energy. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that wave energy support enjoyed a renaissance with government believing it could play a central role in meeting its climate change and energy security targets, whilst also stimulating economic growth.

Whilst an £75m of public and £525m of private sector funds were subsequently invested in ocean energy RD&D between 2000 and 2012 this ultimately failed to deliver a commercially viable wave energy device. This slow progress can in part be attributed to the complexity of the engineering challenge this research explores whether the level and type of support on offer may have been a contributing factor. Drawing upon both qualitative and quantitative analysis this research examines the effectiveness of the UK’s wave energy innovation system and the lessons that have been learnt to help accelerate wave energy technology innovation in the future.

In terms of the level of funding the research finds that ocean energy has at a national and international level received less funding than other renewable energy technologies that have reached commercialisation. In terms of the effectiveness of the funding that was committed the research finds that the innovation support system put in place has exhibited a number of critical weaknesses. These include a pressure to go ‘too big too soon’, poor levels of developer collaboration, intermittent government support and a poorly coordinated funding landscape.

Despite these failures significant ‘policy learning’ has taken place in the UK, triggering a major reconfiguration of its ocean energy innovation system that is considered to have created a stronger innovation system. Positive developments include a refocusing on component vs. device development, treating wave and tidal energy innovation separately and a greater degree of innovation body coordination. Even so a number of recommendations are presented to strengthen the system further still, not least greater coordination between UK and Scottish governments and stronger links between universities and device developers.

Bio

Matthew has over 7 years’ experience delivering high-quality research focused on fostering sustainable energy technology and business model innovation. His research examines the international policy and market conditions necessary to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative sustainable energy technologies and business models to address global challenges like climate change, energy security and fuel poverty whilst simultaneously driving economic growth. This work has culminated in numerous peer-reviewed journal publications, consultancy reports and contributions to high-profile government committee reports and independent reviews.

After graduating from the University of Nottingham in 2008 in Human Geography he completed his PhD in 2012 at the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, during which time he worked as a consultant at the internationally leading environmental consultancy AECOM. Since 2012 he has worked at Imperial College London as part of the RCUK Energy Strategy Fellowship located within the Centre for Environmental Policy examining the effectiveness of energy innovation systems. In 2014 he became a Research Fellow at Imperial and a Fellow of both the Higher Education Academy and Royal Geographical Society in 2015.

8th Dec
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Matthew Lockwood (University of Exeter)
The politics of the UK climate policy regime, in comparative perspective

Abstract

Recent shifts in energy policy in the UK have given rise to concerns about how far the new government is committed to climate mitigation goals. This seminar assesses how far the emerging comparative quantitative literature on determinants of climate policy commitment and renewable energy policy can help our understanding of the nature of the UK policy regime, at a structural level. This literature suggests that the nature of political institutions in the UK is not particularly supportive of climate and renewable energy policy, but that this fact is offset by various other factors, including EU membership. The limits of quantitative studies are also discussed, with particular attention on the need for a deeper understanding of the nature of the energy and climate debate within Britain's Conservative Party.

Bio

Matthew Lockwood is a Senior Research Fellow in the Energy Policy Group at the University of Exeter. He has a particular interest in the politics of energy and climate policy in the UK, having previously published work on the political sustainability of the climate Change Act, environmentalism after the financial crisis, and the framing of energy policy. He has previously worked for the Institute for Public Policy Research and the Institute of Development Studies at Brighton.

9th Dec
13:00 - 14:00
Jubilee G22
Gregor Semieniuk and Mariana Mazzucato
Investment into renewable energy: who is doing what and why it matters
SPRU Wednesday Seminar Series

Abstract

Mobilizing investment for an effective scale-up of renewable energy capacity is one of the key challenges for mitigating climate change. The problem is often portrayed as a simple (and static) fossil vs. renewable dichotomy. Yet, little is known about the types of renewable energy that are being financed, and whether different sources of finance have a differential impact on the direction and pace of innovation and efficiency improvement in renewable energy technologies. 

Using a new dataset we have constructed, based mainly on the Bloomberg New Energy Finance database, the paper analyses the heterogeneity in both actor types that provide finance, and the various technologies that receive finance. We apply heuristic measures of risk and diversity to actor portfolios, in order to understand differences both between categories (e.g. financial actors, and countries) and within categories. The objective is to study the flows and patterns which have been emerging over time. Our preliminary results suggest that there are systematic differences and biases between actor types (e.g public banks versus private equity) and investment patterns in different parts of the renewable landscape. We use these patters to ask new questions and form new challenges for both research and policies.