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Energy transitions, sub-national government and regime flexibility: how has devolution in the United Kingdom affected renewable energy development?

Cowell, Richard; Ellis, Geraint; Sherry-Brennan, Fionnguala; Strachan, Peter A.; Toke, David

Authors

Richard Cowell

Geraint Ellis

Fionnguala Sherry-Brennan

Peter A. Strachan

David Toke

Abstract

Amidst growing analytical interest in the spatial dimensions of sustainable energy transitions, relatively little attention has been given to the role of sub-national government, or the ways in which dominant socio-technical regimes for energy navigate diverse contexts. This paper addresses these two concerns by assessing the impacts of devolution within the UK on renewable energy development. It draws principally on policy networks analysis as the basis of a comparative assessment, examining how far the governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have translated their formal powers in the energy sphere into renewable energy outcomes. Scotland's relative success in facilitating rapid expansion of on-shore wind is attributed to a more enduring and cohesive policy community around renewable energy growth than in Northern Ireland and Wales, but this success has been adversely affected by fragmenting policy networks around renewables at national (UK) level. The analysis highlights especially the role of planning and consenting, as mechanisms by which devolved governments have worked to contain the potentially disruptive effects of opposition to major infrastructure investments, thereby enhancing regime reproduction.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2017
Journal Energy research and social science
Electronic ISSN 2214-6296
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Pages 169-181
Institution Citation COWELL, R., ELLIS, G., SHERRY-BRENNAN, F., STRACHAN, P.A. and TOKE, D. 2017. Energy transitions, sub-national government and regime flexibility: how has devolution in the United Kingdom affected renewable energy development? Energy research and social science [online], 23, pages 169-181. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2016.10.006
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2016.10.006
Keywords Renewable energy; Devolution; Policy networks; Transition; United Kingdom

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