UKERC Research Fund project:
Transforming the UK Energy System: Public Values, Attitudes and Acceptability
Significant transformations in the way the UK supplies, manages and consumes its energy will be essential if current climate change targets are to be achieved. Public acceptance and attitudes will play an important factor in implementing changes to the energy system and could provide significant difficulties as well as opportunities for the delivery of change.
Whilst there is already research on public opinion about particular ways of producing energy (wind, solar etc) and on different aspects of energy consumption, less is known about perceptions of a whole energy system change (i.e. the combined range of future transformations in energy demand and supply currently under consideration.)
The aim of this research project is to provide an insight into these issues and build on knowledge and understanding of public attitudes, values and acceptability in order to inform policy and produce research evidence for future energy scenarios.
Combining leading expertise in psychology, science, technology, geography and engineering, the project will utilise a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods, from discussion groups to surveys, to examine public perception, paying particular attention to where the public agrees or contests the underlying reasons for proposed change.
The project will be carried out in three stages:
Stage one - researchers will analyse published documents and interview professionals to develop the materials necessary for creating realistic scenarios and discussion topics for the rest of the research.
Stage two - a series of public workshops will be held in order to facilitate group discussion around the materials identified in stage one. Workshops will be held in six case areas across the UK, each with different energy characteristics (e.g. high energy use, proximity to different forms of energy developments.)
Stage three - Building on stages one and two, stage three will examine the choices, values and trade-offs with a broader survey sample representative of the UK population.
Results from the research will provide useful insight into public acceptability of decarbonisation pathways, including what choices might gain broad public support or where resistance/ conflict might be expected.
Outputs will include the creation of an Advisory Panel (consisting of representatives from policy, third sector, industry and independent academics), stakeholder briefings, academic publications, final report and launch event and a dedicated website for all users, particularly the public, detailing all aspects of the research.
The project is partnership between Cardiff University Schools of Psychology, Engineering and Architecture and the Horizon Digital Centre based at the University of Nottingham.
Key contact: Professor Nicholas Pidgeon, Cardiff University
Policy Summary: Transforming the UK Energy System - Public Values, Attitudes and Acceptability (May 2012)
Presentation: Public Values interim results