Talk: How does UK government policy account for the timing and flexibility of end use energy demand? Richard Hanna, Jacopo Torriti, Antonio Ferreira, Greg Marsden

Abstract for presentation at Behave Energy Conference, Oxford, 3-4 September 2014.

Demand-side management and time-shifting of specific end-use activities offer significant potential to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. This paper is an early output of the DEMAND research programme, which has an underlying principle that energy is used in the course of accomplishing social practices. Energy and transport policy in the UK does not consider sufficiently how social practices, i.e. ‘what people do’, impact on the timing and flexibility of energy consumption, whether people are at home, travelling around, at work or at leisure. Other government policy domains also impact indirectly on the timing and flexibility of end-use energy demand, particularly those policies aimed at shaping the labour market.

Drawing on an analysis of impact assessments and other policy documents, this paper aims to establish the extent to which UK government policy considers how the timing and flexibility of social practices influences energy consumption. The research investigates whether and how understandings of the timing and flexibility of energy demand influence analyses of policy alternatives. Policy assumptions about how much social practices and behaviour might change in the future are also examined.

With reference to a wider range of policy documents beyond impact assessments, the paper presents the results of a Boolean operator word search for terms related to the timing and flexibility of energy demand. This content analysis aims to obtain a broad measure of the quantity of coverage of timing and flexibility of energy demand. This search is also used to help identify venues for more detailed, qualitative analysis.

Impact assessments are a key venue for the analysis as the research examines assumptions around conventional understandings of energy consumption which are used to justify policy interventions. The paper also maps relevant policies, both directly and indirectly related to the timing and flexibility of energy demand, including those policies governed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Transport.

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