Mr Alaa  Owaineh, University of Surrey 

Prof Tim Foxon, University of Sussex, United Kingdom

Dr Stuart Galloway, University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom

Dr Stephen Hall, University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Dr Francis Li, UCL, United Kingdom

Ms Elizabeth Robertson, University of Strathclyde,United Kingdom

A transition to a low carbon energy system will require high levels of innovation both in technologies and in the governance of energy systems, which is likely to disrupt existing business models and incentives structures. Drawing on research from an EPSRC-funded project ‘Realising Transition Pathways: Whole systems analysis for a UK more electric low carbon energy future’, this session will examine the current and future impact of different forms of ownership on low carbon pathways for the UK electricity and wider energy system.


The pathways examined in the project explored the implications of different governance arrangement for the UK electricity system, through a market-led, a government-led and a civil society-led pathway, whilst recognising that elements of all three are likely to feature in a low carbon transition. The UK government is still formally committed to a market-led transition, as the Secretary of State argued in her recent energy reset speech: “We want to see a competitive electricity market, with government out of the way as much as possible, by 2025” (Rudd, 2015). However, in practice, a more hybrid transition is occurring, with nearly all current electricity generation investment dependent on some form of government support, either through Contract for Difference Feed-in Tariffs or the Capacity Market. Recent work under the project also explored the regulatory and ownership changes that might be needed for a more distributed, civil society-led transition (RTP Engine Room, 2015). This raises questions about what form or forms of ownership would be most appropriate to realise a low carbon transition in UK energy systems.


The panellists will each discuss what they view as alternative structures of ownership of the energy system drawing on theoretical thinking on transitions or examples from across the world. This will include the discussion of municipal, public and civic and cooperative ownership models, as well as alternative modes of private ownership (for example, regional vertically-integrated ownership, rather than national supply that is separated from distribution and generation).


Panellists proceed to discuss whether ownership influences how the energy system is managed, as well as its impact on the likelihood and trajectory of system transitions. More specifically, the panellists will discuss the impact of different ownership structures one or more of the following aspects of the energy system:

•           Investment decisions and priorities

•           Innovation dynamics

•           Responses to policy and regulation

•           Technology choices

•           The role of consumers, communities and other stakeholders

The following list includes all those who have contributed to the development of this proposal, and form the core group participating in this dialogue session:

•           Professor Tim Foxon, University of Sussex

•           Dr Stuart Galloway, University of  Strathclyde

•           Dr Stephen Hall, University of Leeds

•           Dr Francis Li, University College London

•           Ms Elizabeth Robertson, University of Strathclyde

•           Mr Alaa Owaineh, University of Surrey

Additionally, other researchers, academics, and industry representative associated with the RTP consortium will be invited to take part.

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