Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Making useful knowledge for heat decarbonisation: lessons from local energy planning in the United Kingdom

Cowell, Richard ORCID: and Webb, Jan 2021. Making useful knowledge for heat decarbonisation: lessons from local energy planning in the United Kingdom. Energy Research and Social Science 75 , 102010. 10.1016/j.erss.2021.102010

[thumbnail of R Cowell 2021 making useful knowledge postprint.pdf] PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (389kB)


Heat decarbonisation is challenging in many countries, but few studies address its ‘wicked problem’ qualities and the implications for producing useful knowledge. This paper elucidates the challenges by applying insights from science and technology studies, especially Callon’s concept of knowledge ‘frames’, to explain the fate of a prominent UK innovation – the EnergyPath Networks (EPN) and Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP) tool of the Smart Systems and Heat programme. The aim of the tool, which coupled an engineering model with local planning, was to provide authoritative knowledge to support local decision making. However, after six years of piloting with local authorities the future take-up of EPN and LAEP remained uncertain, for two key reasons. First the techno-economic knowledge frame encountered numerous overflows emanating from more potent political-economic and technological perspectives governing local priorities. Second the framing of local decision making neglected the marginality of energy planning at local government level. Our analysis shows the problems that arise when lab-based research and development prematurely frame energy system problems, before encountering societal and political contexts of use. Problem definitions and solutions for heat decarbonisation based predominantly on technical–economic knowledge lack requisite authority to progress this wicked problem, and must become more context-responsive.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2214-6296
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 March 2021
Date of Acceptance: 24 February 2021
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 20:19

Citation Data

Cited 5 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics