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Governing low carbon socio-technical transitions – a case study of district heating in Great Britain

Bush, Ruth Esther (2016) Governing low carbon socio-technical transitions – a case study of district heating in Great Britain. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

District heating (DH) has the potential to play an important role in enabling a transition to a low carbon, affordable and secure energy system, because of its ability to utilise renewable and waste heat sources as well as to provide a means for energy storage and flexibility. Countries new to DH, such as Great Britain, are looking to establish innovations in governance structures, business models, and policy approaches to overcome the numerous and complex barriers that exist for increasing deployment of DH. This thesis uses socio-technical transitions literatures to explore a case study of DH development in Great Britain, an example of a liberalised energy market and centralised energy system. ‘Niches’ are highlighted in the literature as playing an important role in enabling transitions. The processes that take place within niches enable the creation of a protected space where an innovation can be demonstrated and developed. Niche processes also act as a catalyst for driving change in the wider ‘regime’ of established norms and practices that have formed around the incumbent technology configuration. However, debate continues within the socio-technical transitions literature about how actors can develop the agency to govern for more radical change. Using analysis of case study data, this work considers the potential of actors from across the sectors to utilise different governing measures to support niche processes and drive a transition to DH. The work shows that effective governing measures develop the capacities of niche actors to exploit tensions in the incumbent regime and enable strategic development of DH at the local level. This requires support from actors across geographical scales and sectors. However, actors’ agency to govern a transition is strongly influenced by dynamics in the incumbent regime. Support for niche processes needs to be complemented with activities to bring about destabilisation of the incumbent regime.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: low carbon, district heating, socio-technical transitions, governance, heat, energy
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Engineering (Leeds) > School of Chemical and Process Engineering (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ms R E Bush
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2016 10:49
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2018 01:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/15344

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