This paper explores the development of Integrated Local Energy Systems policies within England, Scotland, and Wales over an 11-year period, focusing on their role in achieving net zero and their impact on regional communities. By analysing over 50 policy strategies and 105 instruments, the study assesses the credibility and comprehensiveness of the policy mixes in these jurisdictions.

Integrated Local Energy Systems (LES) are being pursued internationally as a component of net zero, with additional benefits to regions and communities. This paper develops and tests a policy mixes approach to examine differential development of LES policies over 11 years in the three political jurisdictions (England, Scotland and Wales) which comprise Great Britain’s (GB) single energy market. The analysis contributes to knowledge about the strengths and weaknesses of the policy mixes concept as an analytical tool for exploring divergence in devolved governments. It also considers the likely effectiveness of these policy mixes for stimulating LES developments in practice. Analysis of over 50 policy strategies and 105 policy instruments is used to evaluate the credibility of the policy mixes, ie. whether these are believable and reliable, and their comprehensiveness, ie. whether all market, system and institutional failures are addressed. The policy mix in England exhibits fluctuation and short-termism, making it the least credible. Strategies in Scotland and Wales demonstrate a more credible and ambitious policy mix for LES, including long term policies and new instruments added over time. However, limited political powers mean that the policy mixes in Scotland and Wales are less comprehensive than in England, making the realisation of LES uncertain. Further, none of the policies are designed to challenge systemic interdependencies of GB’s liberalised and largely centralised energy system. This ultimately limits capacity to deliver LES and highlights the need for policy development, in GB and elsewhere, to encompass regulatory and institutional innovation to realise LES benefits.

Authors

Faye Wade, Jess Britton and Janette Webb

Publication details

F Wade, J Britton, J Webb. Credible and comprehensive? Comparing policy mixes for Local Energy systems in England, Scotland and Wales. Science Direct. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2024.103413