Governance institutions and prospects for local energy innovation: Laggards and leaders among UK local authorities

Margaret Tingey, Janette Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

UK Local Authorities are increasingly declaring ‘climate emergencies’ and pledging 100% clean energy and carbon neutrality ambitions for their locality, despite lack of powers over energy systems. Our research investigates current Local Authority engagement in clean energy, and considers prospects for meso-scale innovation. The analysis centres on Local Authority energy plans and investments across the four UK countries and English regions. Local Authorities are allocated to one of four categories of engagement from energy ‘laggards’ through to ‘leaders’. Findings reveal that, despite lack of direct powers, a high proportion of Local Authorities have developed sustainable energy plans and projects, but only a minority manage to combine these into a more strategic local energy programme. There was proportionately greater activity in Scotland and considerable variation was found across English regions. We conclude that variation in levels of engagement relates to divisions of responsibilities between different levels of government. The capacity for Local Authority-mediated social innovation to support development of a clean UK energy system is discussed. Implications for policy include the need for a statutory power, and commensurate resources, for Local Authorities to ensure a more comprehensive and systematic contribution to clean energy innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalEnergy Policy
Early online date20 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jan 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • local government
  • municipal energy
  • decentralised energy
  • energy efficiency
  • energy planning
  • mapping


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