This is an ESRC project funded for two years beginning January 2011 involving David Toke as a co-investigator. The Principal Investigator is Dr Richard Cowell from Cardiff University and the two other co-investigators (besides David Toke) are Dr Peter Strachan of Robert Gordon University and Geraint Ellis from Queens University Belfast. A Research Fellow, funded for the two years of the project, will be based in Cardiff.
The research will start at an exciting time with renewable energy forming a central role in UK energy policy and the politics of devolution entering a new phase following the 2010 General Election. As suggested later, Dr Toke will focus principally on the ‘UK’ end of the planning and financial aspects of policy on renewable energy. He will spend 10 per cent of his time over the 2 year period working on the project.
The overarching goal of the research is to identify and explain the impacts of devolution on the provision of renewable energy. To do this, a clear research design has been developed, which ensures a consistent analytical approach to each of the government arenas, in order to facilitate effective comparison.
The core aim of the proposed study is to assess the impacts of devolution on the provision of renewable energy. It offers considerable potential for theory-building and testing in the spheres of sustainability transition, environmental governance and post-devolution policy formulation. The research will involve the UK government in Westminster, the English national level, and the governments that have been established in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland since 1999. It will address the following questions:
To what extent has devolution affected the provision of renewable energy, in terms of the ways in which the devolved governments, English national bodies and UK levels of government have formulated policy objectives, adjusted the nature and settings of policy instruments, and influenced the delivery of new renewable energy capacity?
To what extent have the devolved institutions and bodies responsible for England made different use of the powers for promoting renewable energy bequeathed to them by the devolution process, and how might we explain any tendencies towards divergence or convergence?
What lessons can one draw for institutional design in the effective delivery of renewable energy from the experiences of governments across the UK to date?
Impacts and outputs
This study offers a timely opportunity to harness the laboratory of devolution to obtain a systematic understanding of the impacts of different policy designs and instruments on renewable energy outcomes – generating insights of great relevance to UK policy-makers, and internationally. It will illuminate not just how policy instruments might be deployed, but also how political mandates and democratic processes can be harnessed for major transitions in energy provision. Moreover, the proposed research will generate a substantial body of data for exploring theoretical issues in sustainability transition, environmental governance and the evolution of devolution.