A new book which analyses energy and environmental law and policy features contributions by two Sussex Energy Group researchers on the importance of moving beyond technical understandings of energy to the importance of considering factors such as governance, competing interests and competing ideologies or world views when examining global energy policies. Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) and Director of the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, and Philip Johnstone, a Research Fellow at SPRU both have written chapters in Delivering Energy Law and Policy in the EU and the US. Benajamin Sovacool’s chapter explains that contentions over energy technologies are due to different or competing worldviews or ‘frames’ of how energy is conceptualized, rather than the facts. Individuals who hold the ‘technical optimist frame’ believe, for example, that almost any problem can be fixed with technology. In contrast the ‘environmental preservationist’ frame prioritises the protection of the environment above and beyond energy delivery. A chapter by Philip Johnstone, a Research Fellow at SPRU, focusses on the UK delivery of nuclear power in the context of Europe. Research often focusses on the relative merits of nuclear with regards to carbon profile or economics, but, Johnstone asks, how feasible is the actual delivery of nuclear once wider governance factors are taken into account? The UK has done nearly everything that it can in the context of a ‘liberalised’ energy market to promote new nuclear, including a broad political consensus in favour of new nuclear, reforms to licensing arrangements, new institutions created to facilitate nuclear power, increased investment in nuclear skills, reforms to the planning system and generous economic incentives for nuclear investment. Despite this, says Johnstone, UK nuclear new build has not materialised, start up dates (which formed part of the justificatory basis for unique planning decisions taken to speed up nuclear) have been extended, and costs have soared.
SPRU 26th July 2016 read more »