Rescaling the Governance of Renewable Energy: Lessons from the UK Devolution Experience

Richard Cowell*, Geraint Ellis, Fionnguala Sherry-Brennan, Peter A. Strachan, David Toke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
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Efforts to rescale governance arrangements to foster sustainable development are rarely simple in their consequences, an out-turn examined in this paper through an analysis of how the governance of renewable energy in the UK has been impacted by the devolution of power to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Theoretically, attention is given to the ways in which multiple modes of governing renewable energy, and the interactions between modes and objects of governance, together configure the scalar organization of renewable energy governance. Our findings show how the devolved governments have created new, sub-national renewable energy strategies and targets, yet their effectiveness largely depends on UK-wide systems of subsidy. Moreover, shared support for particular objects of governance—large-scale, commercial electricity generation facilities—has driven all the devolved government to centralize and expedite the issuing of consents. This leads to a wider conclusion. While the level at which environmental problems are addressed can affect how they are governed, what key actors believe about the objects of governance can mediate the effects of any rescaling processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-502
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy & Planning
Issue number5
Early online date17 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventScale in environmental governance: power reconfiguration, democratic legitimacy and institutional (mis-)fit - Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 7 Mar 20138 Mar 2013


  • scale
  • governance
  • renewable energy
  • UK
  • devolution


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