photo of Jacob Barnes

Dr Jacob Barnes

Post:Phd Student (The Sussex Energy Group)
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Jake is an academic and activist. Growing up in the South West of England Jake began undergraduate studies in Bristol studying International Relations but has since moved through an MSc on Energy Policy and Sustainability to focus down on local and community-scale action for sustainability. His research interests include the politics and sociology of innovation and change at local and community scales. 

He is a member of the Sussex Energy Group. His PhD research (supervised by Prof. Adrian Smith and Dr. Florian Kern) focussed on the emergence of community-based initiatives as seeking to locally embed sustainable technologies into local contexts of use. It used a socio-technical approach to explore questions of agency and user influenced demand-side change processes. The research contributed a process model of community-based intermediation for local embedding. The model builds an understanding of how community-based intermediaries attempt to integrate low carbon technologies into contexts of use whilst recognising the challenges activists regularly face in getting their projects to work, including for example changing national policies and activist learning.   

He is a founding director of the Bristol Energy Network, an umbrella organisation for community energy initiatives in Bristol and the surrounding area. In 2013, he coordinated the development of the Bristol Community Strategy for Energy: a grassroots, cross-sectoral energy strategy for the city, endorsed and launched by the city’s Mayor, the strategy seeks to place individuals and communities at the heart of Bristol’s future energy system. 



Jake was working on the ARTS project - Accelerating and Rescaling Transitions to Sustainability, an EU FP7 funded project, until December 2016. The project sought to understand the role and impact of transition initiatives in cities and examine the conditions that aid accelerating change towards a sustainable low-carbon society. Instead of focussing on a single domain, such as energy, and as much of the transition literature does, it looked across domains, to compare and constrast progress at a city-regional level. Jake joined the project in September 2015 to help analyse the Brighton case study materials, support cross case analysis across European regions and engage local stakeholders to look for ways of increasing the rate of progress to a more sustainable city-region. The project ran until December 2016. Outcomes from the project can be found on the project website:  


  • DPhil Science and Technology Policy Studies, SPRU, University of Sussex 
  • MSc Energy Policy and Sustainability, University of Exeter
  • BA (Hons) International Relations, University of the West of England, Bristol


Jake co-convened the SPRU wednesday seminar series between September 2014 and September 2016.  

In July 2013 he contributed to a DECC consultation on Community Energy with members of the Community Innovation for Sustainable Energy research team.