Dr Jess Britton

Research Topic Title: Re-scaling governance for decarbonisation: co-ordinating decentralised energy systems

Tackling climate change requires the complete decarbonisation of energy systems and understanding how to drive and govern this society wide change presents huge challenges for policymakers across scales. There is a significant trend in current energy system change towards more localised, distributed energy systems. However, there has been limited conceptual development of the role of sub-national governance in energy transitions, particularly in relation to the interactions between political scales. My fellowship will therefore explore how the role of local actors in energy systems is changing (with a focus on the UK), the extent to which current governance, policy and regulatory arrangements support action by the most appropriate actors at the right scale, and how action between local, regional and national governments should be best coordinated.

More broadly, my research is focussed on understanding the urban and local politics and practices of energy system change. I’m particularly interested in local low carbon innovation and role of local authorities. This incorporates research on interactions between decentralised energy systems and political devolution, as well as smart cities and how energy business models are changing. My PhD examined the development of heat networks in the UK and Germany with an emphasis on the role of municipal utilities.

Mentors: Prof Catherine Mitchell and Prof Jane Wills


Kuzemko, C. and Britton, J. (forthcoming, 2020) ‘Policy, politics & materiality across scales: A framework for understanding local sustainable energy, applied in England’, Energy Research and Social Science.

Judson, E., Fitch-Roy, O., Pownall, T., Bray, R., Poulter, H., Soutar, I., Lowes, R., Connor, P., Britton, J., Woodman, B., Mitchell, C. (2019) ‘The centre cannot (always) hold: examining pathways towards energy system de-centralisation’, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 118, (online)

Britton, J. (2018) Localising energy: heat networks and municipal governance in Goldthau, A., Keating M and Kuzemko, C (eds.) Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy and Natural Resources, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.

Britton, J. (2017) Smart meter data and equitable energy transitions – can cities play a role? Local Environment (online) www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13549839.2017.1383372

Connor, P. M., Xie, L., Lowes, R., Britton, J., Richardson, T. (2015) ‘The development of renewable heating policy in the United Kingdom’, Renewable Energy 75:733-744.

Britton, J. and Woodman, B. (2014) Local Enterprise Partnerships and the low-carbon economy: Front runners, uncertainty and divergence, Local Economy 29: 617-634.

Mitchell, C., Watson, J., and Britton, J. (eds) (2013) New Challenges in Energy Security: The UK in a Multipolar World, Palgrave Macmillian. 

Soutar, I. and Britton, J. (2013). Energy Security Policy in Britain: Markets, Complexity and Challenges. In Mitchell, C.; Watson, J. and Britton, J. (eds.) New Challenges in Energy Security: The UK in a Multipolar World, Palgrave Macmillian.

E-mail: j.britton@exeter.ac.uk

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-britton-ba59163a/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessbritton11

Website: http://geography.exeter.ac.uk/staff/index.php?web_id=Jessica_Britton