Decentralised Electricity and its Implications for the Governance of UK Energy Security
Allen, John Oakley
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The GB electricity system is in a state of change, both physically and operationally. The future of the electricity system needs to be low carbon and secure. Current system structures revolve around large-scale centralised generation to deliver this security. This thesis argues that with a broad definition of energy security, which reflects the future needs of the electricity system, a decentralised approach would be more beneficial to deliver these needs. This thesis identifies the governance processes that make up current energy security and evaluates how these might change in a system of decentralised electricity. The research consists of 31 in-depth interviews with key stakeholders of the electricity system from the government, regulatory, market and civil society based actor groups. In addition to this, the research utilised a secondary analysis of consultation responses and Government publications. This thesis uses multi-layer perspective theory to interpret the transition from a centralised to decentralised electricity system. In addition to the multi-layer perspective, an advancement of the governance perspective was also required. This develops the understanding of the changes to the actor relationships rules and the incentives of a decentralised electricity system. This research developed for key findings. Firstly, a decentralised electricity future would introduce a larger number of small investors, who in a centralised system would not exist. The second key point is, the UK Government is responsible for security of supply and their actions are focused on centralised electricity technologies. The third point is that energy security (in its boarder definition) is the responsibility of a network of actors working together. The fourth point is that current energy security is incorrectly dominated by supply meeting demand. The outcome of the research is that a decentralised electricity system would be beneficial to the broader concept of energy security which is used in this thesis.
PhD in Geography