Energy transitions, sub-national government and regime flexibility: how has devolution in the United Kingdom affected renewable energy development?
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COWELL, R., ELLIS, G., SHERRY-BRENNAN, F., STRACHAN, P.A. and TOKE, D. 2017. Energy transitions, sub-national government and regime flexibility: how has devolution in the United Kingdom affected renewable energy development? Energy research and social science [online], 23, pages 169-181. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2016.10.006.
Amidst growing analytical interest in the spatial dimensions of sustainable energy transitions, relatively little attention has been given to the role of sub-national government, or the ways in which dominant socio-technical regimes for energy navigate diverse contexts. This paper addresses these two concerns by assessing the impacts of devolution within the UK on renewable energy development. It draws principally on policy networks analysis as the basis of a comparative assessment, examining how far the governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have translated their formal powers in the energy sphere into renewable energy outcomes. Scotland's relative success in facilitating rapid expansion of on-shore wind is attributed to a more enduring and cohesive policy community around renewable energy growth than in Northern Ireland and Wales, but this success has been adversely affected by fragmenting policy networks around renewables at national (UK) level. The analysis highlights especially the role of planning and consenting, as mechanisms by which devolved governments have worked to contain the potentially disruptive effects of opposition to major infrastructure investments, thereby enhancing regime reproduction.