The theme comprises two Workstreams: Whole Systems Appraisal and Joint Working – Integration and Learning.

Whole Systems Appraisal Workstream

Background: The notion of whole systems analysis and thinking is open to a variety of interpretations. Here it is viewed as a mechanism for illustrating the interconnections within the energy (electricity) system, and for identifying significant constraints – what might be regarded as ‘tipping points’ – associated with the adoption of particular transition pathways. It will therefore help to provide ‘snapshots’, based on quantitative and qualitative evaluations, rather than an ‘integrated’ assessment.

To bring together partners from a variety of disciplines (electrical and mechanical engineering, economics and other social sciences, modellers, and policy analysts) a ‘co-production’ process stemming from the ‘Learning and Integration’ workstream will be adpopted.

Several economic, social and environmental appraisal techniques will be employed on a life-cycle, or ‘full fuel cycle’, basis (Hammond and Winnett, 2004). These linked methods will provide a ‘toolkit’ for interdisciplinary sustainability appraisal (Gibson et al., 2005).

The methods constitute a means for evaluating the transition pathways explored by the Consortium, and for identifying specific implications of the selected routes to a highly electric, low carbon economy.

Aims and Objectives:

  • To provide a transparent sustainability appraisal framework (economic, social, environmental and technical benefits) for the transition pathways that will be explored by the Consortium;
  • To employ a toolkit of techniques to explore and evaluate the ‘whole system’ implications of the selected transition pathways;
  • To outline the (embodied and process) energy and carbon implications of the pathways;
  • To provide an indicative assessment of the environmental impacts of differing pathways using aggregate metrics, such as carbon and environmental footprints. Carbon dioxide emissions are taken as a proxy for a variety of impacts;
  • To compare and contrast the broad sustainability costs and benefits over a range of scales.

Joint Working – Integration and Learning

Background: Deciding what, and how, to implement a programme capable of addressing the multiple challenges posed by climate change over the next 20-30 years requires new approaches to integrating different kinds of professional expertise with wider societal values.

From the narrower confines of risk characterisation and assessment (Stern and Fineberg 1996) to the broader ambitions of sustainability science (Kasemir et al. 2003), the fundamental requirement is to combine academic with industrial, commercial, regulatory, political and societal knowledge in effective decision-support.

This ambitious goal appears to be more achievable in processes that combine the ‘analytic’ (the systematic application of expert knowledge) with the ‘deliberative’ (the systematic application of opportunities for face-to-face discussions between experts, stakeholders and citizens) (Webler 1998; Burgess and Chilvers, 2006).

The consortium takes this challenge very seriously and proposes a methodological approach which, we believe, takes the practice of the ‘co-production’ of knowledge to a new level: substantively, in the exploration and integration of different kinds of expertise, and procedurally  through regular opportunities for reflection and evaluation.

Aims and Objectives:

  • To achieve a level of joint Sources working that allows the effective sharing of disciplinary-specific and professional expertise;
  • To integrate different knowledges and perspectives on transition pathways through the application of analytic and deliberative processes that are fit-for-purpose;
  • To support processes of mutual learning between all members of the consortium, their industrial collaborators, policy-makers and wider stakeholder communities.