Project deliverable Open Access

Energy system visioning and low-carbon configurations

Morrissey, John; Axon, Stephen; Aiesha, Rosita; Hillman, Joanne; Lennon, Breffní; Dunphy, Niall

In this Deliverable, a mixed methods approach (using surveys, interviews, focus groups and workshops, as well as desktop review) is applied to gain insights into the complex understandings, expectations and feelings on energy practices, the energy system, and its future. A mix of citizen and expert opinions were canvassed to identify their preferred vision and expectations for the future energy system. 

Based on empirical research findings, portfolios of future energy system visions were developed and subjected to review and appraisal using: a Delphi-panel-like expert review and analysis; SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of outputted visions and appraisal of Lifecycle and Cost-benefit implications. The rationale for utilising these methods was to produce a coherent synthesis of the differing data sets and the range of analytical techniques applied.

Envisioning exercises, including scenario development, provide an essential foundation from which to highlight the key mechanisms for the long-term and strategic evaluation of policies and strategies, particularly in the context of preparing society, institutions, actors and infrastructure for lasting change. Importantly, these exercises may serve to unite often competing interests of the differing stakeholder actors through a sense of a shared vision or goal even if there may be disagreements as how to arrive there. From the extensive stakeholder engagement carried out with local community residents, transitions interest group members, SME employees and expert academics and practitioners, five distinct visions for the future of the energy system emerge from the analysis. These five energy visions are characterised as follows:

  • Continuity Vision (CONT);

  • Directed Decentralisation Vision (DD);

  • Gradual Path Reduction Vision (GPR);

  • Accelerated Path Reduction Vision (AER); and

  • Deep Green Vision (DG).

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