Governing transitionsCases and insights from two periods in the history of the UK gas industry

Authors Organisations
  • Stathis Arapostathis(Author)
    National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
    Prifysgol Caerdydd | Cardiff University
  • Anna Carlsson-Hyslop(Author)
    Lancaster University
  • Peter J.G. Pearson(Author)
    Prifysgol Caerdydd | Cardiff University
  • Judith Thornton(Author)
  • Maria Gradillas(Author)
    Imperial College London
  • Scott Laczay(Author)
    Imperial College London
  • Suzanne Wallis(Author)
    Imperial College London
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-44
Number of pages20
JournalEnergy Policy
Volume52
Early online date20 Sep 2012
DOI
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2013
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Abstract

The paper aims to inform historically the analyses of future sociotechnical transition pathways in the electricity sector, particularly those developed by the Transition Pathways to a Low Carbon Economy project. It also aims to inform the theoretical approach to transitions by focusing on key decisions at 'branching points' that led to transitions in the UK gas energy services regime, which occurred under different governance patterns. The first historical case study covers the market-led transformation of the manufactured gas regime from 1877 to 1914, which developed the end-uses of gas beyond lighting to include cooking, and extended access to working class consumers. The second case study covers the period from 1948 to 1977, historically reconstructing the transition from town gas to natural gas. This state-led and coordinated conversion to natural gas was preceded by a period of destabilisation of the manufactured gas regime, the co-existence of several niche technologies and the hybridisation of the key actors and technological infrastructures of the incumbent regime. Comparing the cases provides insights for future energy service transitions by addressing the significance of power, trust and networking in the decision making processes involved in the governance of energy transitions.

Keywords

  • Branching points, Gas industry, Historical energy transitions