Governance and politics

Energy policy and regulation are shaped by the differing and often competing objectives and concerns of various stakeholders. Our research evaluates how key stakeholders perceive energy security and energy technologies, and how these perceptions impact upon the policy-making process and regulation, both in the UK and further afield.

Our research in this area

Regulators and policy-makers in the energy sector face the challenge of identifying and balancing differentiated and often competing policy objectives. The subtheme deals with national-level decision making and associated institutions and the role played by politics, including key stakeholders (from industry, government, NGOs, academia) and the general public.

One broad area examines public attitudes and public perceptions of energy demand and supply measures. As the intense public reaction to rising fuel prices in 2000 demonstrated, public acceptance of policy measures relating to energy can affect the direction of public policy. More recent swings in fuel prices also have implications for public, and hence political, support for a range of policies including climate change policy, energy market liberalisation and regulation.

As a cross-cutting issue, energy issues often cross departmental and administrative boundaries and one of the challenges is to formulate government policies and firm strategies that are appropriate for the organisation or the polity in question.

Research in this area includes:

  • surveying public attitudes towards energy demand and supply and the environment
  • evaluation of the willingness-to-pay by the public to accept the key trade-offs involved in energy and environmental policy
  • stakeholder attitudes towards new technologies and institutional arrangements
  • evaluation of the governance structures in place to address energy policy in the UK and internationally

In an era of increased concerns about security of supply, the current policy-making and regulatory arrangements require examination. In particular, there are concerns about whether or not markets can deliver sufficient and timely price signals to ensure adequate investment.

The UK gas market increasingly relies on internationally traded gas. The British market’s integration into the European gas system is deepening, and long-distance imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are growing. Coupled with the continuing reliance on the international oil market for liquid fuel supply, the growing gas dependence is fuelling concerns about UK and European exposure to international energy security risks, as well as the foreign policy implications of energy import relationships.

Our research explores the policy options available to retain the benefits of liberalised energy markets and international energy trade without compromising energy security and foreign policy objectives.

We evaluate:

  • exposure to international energy security risks due to growing reliance on the international oil and internationalising gas market
  • foreign policy implications of energy import relationships
  • interplay between the national, European and international dimensions of energy security