Organisation and Governance of Urban Energy Systems: District Heating and Cooling in the UK

David Hawkey, Janette Webb, Mark Winskel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A number of UK urban authorities are developing combined heat and power (CHP) with district heating and cooling (DHC) networks as a means to achieve local sustainable and affordable energy, and to contribute to economic regeneration. Findings from case study research in three UK cities are used to explore the local energy governance and organisation (LEGO) models adopted in the context of privatised, centralised energy markets. Local developers are reliant on sources of social capital to make systems work, given limited support from public policy and limited access to finance. Local actors, drawing on non-local community energy and commercial and technical networks of expertise, work to: introduce the technology into strategic planning; establish its legitimacy and the legitimacy of a form of multi-organisation suited to numerous stakeholders; secure finance; negotiate risks and responsibilities; and engage with energy markets designed for large-scale centralised provision. For DHC to make a fully effective contribution to UK sustainable urban energy, a more supportive government policy framework, offsetting the difficulties of a centralised energy market, will be needed. To maximise the benefit of locally knowledgeable action, the policy framework must be responsive to the specificity of locally appropriate configurations of actors and material infrastructure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-31
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date23 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Sustainable energy
  • Organization
  • Governance
  • District heating and cooling
  • Urban


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