Transforming the UK Energy System: Public Values, Attitudes and Acceptability - Synthesis Report

Research output: Working paper

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Publication details

DatePublished - 2013
Original languageEnglish


Current policy debates and energy scenarios for the UK highlight the different possible ways of transforming the energy system in order to meet long-term national policy goals, including those of building a low carbon economy, achieving energy security and affordability, and mitigating environmental impacts. Although there has been much previous research on what publics think about specific ways of producing or consuming energy, we know far less about public perceptions, attitudes and values when elicited in relation to whole energy system change as an interconnected set of transformations in the systems of supply, demand, infrastructure and human behaviour. Greater understanding of public acceptability of whole energy system change will present both opportunities, and also highlight challenges, for the delivery of UK energy policy and transitions.

The research had three empirical phases: interviews with key stakeholders, a series of six in-depth deliberative workshops held with publics in England, Scotland and Wales, and a nationally representative survey (Great Britain, n=2,441). This report represents a synthesis of key findings drawn from the two core datasets relating to public perceptions and preferences i.e. the workshops and the survey.

The core conclusion from the research is that the British public wants and expects change with regard to how energy is supplied, used and governed. Members of the public are positive about the need for energy system change and they do not prioritise the demand side over the supply side, or vice versa, as being in greater need of change. Within this, the research has illuminated a wide range of novel insights on public attitudes regarding: energy policy drivers; elements of energy system change; and the underlying values and principles that people draw on when engaging with this issue.


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