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A socio-technical perspective on low carbon investment challenges - Insights for UK energy policy

Bolton, R   Foxon, TJ

Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions   14 165–181

DOI: 10.1016/j.eist.2014.07.005

March 2015   (First published online September 2014)

http://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/a-sociotechnical-perspective-on-low-carbon-investment-challenges--insights-for-uk-energy-policy(4cea27b2-eb0f-4bfe-a3f9-6c63166ad9f0).html

The UK is moving into a new phase of energy governance which is characterised by significant demand for new investment to meet long term climate policy objectives and to address shorter term energy security challenges. This paper examines how contributions from the socio-technical systems approach can be operationalised to address the policy and societal challenge of large scale investments in low carbon energy infrastructure. Research on socio-technical transitions explores the dynamics of long term structural change in capital intensive systems such as energy, housing and water supply, seeking to redirect them towards more sustainable long term trajectories. Focusing on the UK electricity generation sector, the paper expands on three key low carbon investment challenges where socio-technical research can provide useful insights – 1) understanding long term uncertainty and investment risks; 2) avoiding technological lock-in; and 3) accelerating the diffusion of low carbon finance ‘niches’.