Jim Watson

Jim Watson
University College London | UCL ·  Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR)

About

97
Publications
23,537
Reads
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2,468
Citations
Additional affiliations
February 2013 - present
UK Energy Research Centre
UK Energy Research Centre
Position
  • Managing Director
February 1997 - present
University of Sussex
Position
  • Professor of Energy Policy

Publications

Publications (97)
Article
Techno-economic modelling is an important tool in evidence-building, futures assessment and decision-making in policy for socio-technical systems. However, critical assessment of the fit of sophisticated models into a decision-making context is often hidden or overlooked. Using the case of a national infrastructure systems model, this paper connect...
Book
Full-text available
This report seeks to open the box of emission pathways, by considering the multidimensional feasibility conditions-i.e. the technical, economic, political, social and institutional- that will enable the required far-reaching and systemic transformation towards the long-term goal. A detailed understanding of the transformations is indeed key to supp...
Article
Full-text available
Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C requires transformations in every aspect of our societies and economies. In contrast to 2°C pathways, the 1.5°C target requires even deeper and faster cuts in emissions. While this will bring enormous collective benefits, mitigation action also risks significant disruptions and losses to some groups. In thi...
Article
Amid rapid changes to energy systems around the world, there has been ongoing debate regarding incumbent actors' ability to respond to disruptive forces. This paper investigates the corporate strategies of the UK's large vertically integrated energy companies (the ‘Big Six’) between 2008 and 2016. Four of these companies are part of international g...
Article
Full-text available
Energy modelling can assist national decision makers in determining strategies that achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, three key challenges for the modelling community are emerging under this radical climate target that needs to be recognized and addressed. A first challenge is the need to represent new mitigation options not...
Article
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The phasing out of conventional fossil fuel road vehicles is one of a number of potentially disruptive transport and energy policies. The implied technical substitution alone may be too slow to contribute meaningfully to meeting ‘net zero’ carbon reduction targets. This paper uses established modelling techniques and prospective scenario analyses i...
Book
Full-text available
Energy systems around the world are changing fast due to rapid technical change, the need to tackle climate change and growth in demand in the developing world. The Paris Agreement and the IPCC’s 1.5 degree report have strengthened the case for rapid emissions reduction – including plans to transition to net zero energy systems and economies. A key...
Article
Current country-level commitments under the Paris Agreement fall short of putting the world on a required trajectory to stay below a 2°C temperature increase compared to pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. Therefore, the timing of increased ambition is hugely important and as such this paper analyses the impact of both the short and lo...
Article
This paper uses historical analysis to explore the evolution of interdependencies between the electricity and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors in the UK. It explores the role of governance in shaping the interface between these two sectors, and subsequent implications for smart grid innovation. The analysis focuses on three pe...
Article
Full-text available
There is increasing recognition that a whole systems approach is required to inform decisions on future energy options. Based on a qualitative and quantitative analysis of forty influential energy and ecosystem services scenario exercises, we consider how the benefits to society that are derived from the natural environment are integrated within cu...
Article
Scenario development is widely used to support the formation of energy policy, but many energy scenarios consider environmental interactions only in terms of climate change. We suggest that efforts to develop more holistic energy pathways, going beyond post hoc analysis of environmental and social implications, can usefully draw on environmental sc...
Article
The UK has ambitious, statutory long-term climate targets that will require deep decarbonisation of its energy system. One key question facing policymakers is the role of natural gas both during the transition towards, and in the achievement of, a future low-carbon energy system. Here we assess a range of possible futures for the UK, and find that...
Article
Full-text available
The European Union (EU) is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels by 80%–95% in 2050 compared to 1990 levels. Various approaches have been developed to secure and evaluate the progress made towards this objective. To gain insights into how EU Member States are aligning to this collective long-term objective, we systematicall...
Chapter
If treated as a single economy, the European Union is the largest in the world, with an estimated GDP of over 14 trillion euros. Despite its size, European economic policy has often lagged behind the rest of the world in its ability to generate growth and innovation. Much of the European economic research itself often trails behind that of the USA,...
Chapter
Introduction: Governance of infrastructure relates to the interactions and decision-making amongst multiple actors that result in the delivery, financing and payment for infrastructure services. Taking the system-of-systems approach adopted in this book, this chapter will approach the governance of infrastructure with a particular emphasis upon the...
Article
The UK is committed to ambitious medium- and long-term climate change targets, including a commitment to an 80% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Whilst emissions have fallen significantly since 1990, further reductions will be increasingly difficult to achieve. The government has agreed carbon budgets to the late 2020s that are cons...
Article
National infrastructure systems (energy, transport, digital communications, water, and waste) provide essential services to society. Although for the most part these systems developed in a piecemeal way, they are now an integrated and highly interdependent "system of systems." However, understanding the long-term performance trajectory of national...
Article
Using case study analysis across three sectors in China (cement, electric vehicles and coal fired electricity generation) and theoretical insights from the innovation studies literature, this paper analyses the development of China’s technological capabilities in low carbon technologies and the ways in which public policies have contributed to deve...
Article
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are often highlighted as a crucial component of future low carbon energy systems in the UK and internationally. Whilst these technologies are now in the demonstration phase world-wide, they are still characterised by a range of technical, economic, policy, social and legal uncertainties. This paper appl...
Article
Full-text available
Whilst carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are now in the demonstration phase, they are still characterised by a range of technical, economic, policy, social and legal uncertainties. This paper presents the results of an interdisciplinary research project funded by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). The aim of the project was to analy...
Book
Researchers and practitioners explore the effect of evolving global economic and political powers on energy security within the UK and puts forward practical options for moving towards a more energy secure system over both the short and long terms.
Chapter
As the chapters of this book have shown, the existence of a multipolar world fundamentally changes British energy security risks and threats, including the geopolitical context that Britain exists within. During the 1990s hydrocarbon fuels were relatively cheap and plentiful and it was assumed that the investments of the international energy compan...
Chapter
Energy security has risen up the political agenda over the last decade or so in the UK. Depleting North Sea oil and gas production, rising global energy prices, blackouts in European and North American power systems and fuel protests have all increased the prominence of energy security since the year 2000. These events and trends, combined with cha...
Article
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is seen as a key technology to tackle climate change. The principal idea of CCS is to remove carbon from the flue gases arising from burning fuels for electricity generation or industrial applications and to store the carbon in geological formations to prevent it from entering the atmosphere. Policy makers in severa...
Article
The existing lock-in to centralisation of the UK energy system is being challenged. The CLUES project explores the role of urban energy initiatives and the implications for carbon reductions
Article
Introduction: The scale of future energy systems in the UK will have a significant impact on the evolution of the built environment. Yet, the scale at which energy systems emerge is closely connected with social and economic values and behaviours and the nature of governance at local and national levels. Today's centralized energy system has a part...
Article
Full-text available
This paper develops an interdisciplinary framework to assess the different dimensions of uncertainties which surround the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS). It includes technical, economic, financial, political and societal uncertainties about CCS and develops methods for assessing these uncertainties. It also identifies important lin...
Article
In the wake of the global recession and signs of fragility in the UK's own recovery, a panel of eminent economics thinkers and innovators gathered to debate whether and how the notion of government intervention in industry might be resurrected as part of a new approach to economic policy.
Chapter
Microgeneration, the production of electricity at the level of individual buildings or small local communities, has recently enjoyed increasing attention from politicians and energy analysts. A more decentralized or distributed electricity generation system could contribute to a transition towards a more sustainable energy system. Compared to the t...
Article
In this paper, we compare different policy incentives for overcoming investment uncertainties that are typical for low-carbon technologies prior to their commercialisation, some of which may be attributable to market failures. The paper focuses on the particular case of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and conducts a qualitative multi-...
Article
'Environmental leapfrogging' assumes that developing countries might be able to skip some of the dirty stages of development experienced by industrialised countries. Environmental leapfrogging could, therefore, contribute to development and environmental goals including climate mitigation objectives. This paper examines the prospects for environmen...
Article
Intellectual property rights (IPRs) and the transfer of low carbon technologies to developing countries have been the focus of sustained disagreement between many developed and developing country Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We argue that this disagreement stems from two conflicting political discou...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the deployment of microgeneration in Germany and the UK from a technological innovation systems (TIS) perspective. Based on the TIS functions approach, we condense supportive and obstructive factors and discuss the differences in the respective national setting for small-scale renewable and combined heat and power (CHP) technolo...
Article
China’s growing demand for energy – and its dependence on coal – has seen its carbon emissions increase more than 50% since 2000. Within the debate about mitigating global climate change, there is mounting pressure for emerging economies like China to take more responsibility for reducing their carbon emissions within a post-2012 international clim...
Article
The deployment of eco-innovations in developing countries is a key driver of their contribution to efficiently addressing global environmental challenges. It is also a key driver of markets for eco-innovation and sustainable economic development. This report explores the barriers developing countries face in accessing markets for eco-innovation. It...
Article
The aim of this paper is to explore the extent to which the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK can safeguard or enhance energy security. The paper starts with a discussion of energy security, and breaks it down into four main categories of threat. These include threats due to fossil fuel scarcity and external disruptions, problems d...
Chapter
The aim of this chapter is to provide further understanding of people’s everyday energy use in high consumption nations, their role in relation to wider energy systems and their governance, and the associated environmental and economic impacts. From this understanding, the chapter identifies some of the key challenges involved in reducing emissions...
Article
Full-text available
This paper provides details of the context and background to UK policies for CCS, and critically examines the national strategy and detailed initiatives to date. Interviews with key players inform the analysis. Climate and energy security goals are first set out, and arguments about the place of coal within them discussed. Then the paper turns to t...
Chapter
Around the world energy policy is becoming more politically heated. An interrelated set of factors explains this: new scientific findings about climate change and its likely consequences; rising energy prices; controversy about nuclear ambitions; fears about the security of fossil fuel supplies relating to short-term geopolitical instabilities; rap...
Chapter
Rapidly cutting domestic GHG emissions is the most pressing energy policy challenge in industrialised countries, but it is global emissions, including those from developing countries, that will determine the extent of future climate change. Agreement on global action to cut emissions has so far been difficult to achieve, largely because of US intra...
Chapter
Over 20 years ago UN Commission on Environment and Development called on governments around the world to make sustainable development their first priority. The ‘Brundtland Report’ provided a definition still regularly quoted in policy documents committing governments to the aim. Sustainable development is: [D]evelopment that meets the needs of the...
Chapter
The transition towards a more sustainable society will require the development and deployment of a range of new and existing energy technologies — from centralised supply side options such as CCS, through infrastructure technologies that underpin decentralised energy networks, to household technologies such as LED (light-emitting diode) lighting an...
Article
Full-text available
Growing international trade has been one of the most important drivers for China's recent economic growth. This growth has fed rapid increases in energy demand and carbon emissions since 2000. China is now the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide. There is mounting pressure from some in the international community for China to take specific ac...
Article
Micro-generation in individual homes has been the subject of increasing policy and industry attention in recent years. Whilst it has been estimated that micro-generation could meet 30–40% of UK electricity demand by 2050, deployment to date has been slow. In its Micro-generation Strategy the UK government has started to outline how deployment could...
Article
Full-text available
This article focuses on technological discontinuities and late shakeouts in mature industries. The empirical case is combined cycle gas turbine technology in the power generation industry, where two of four main incumbents (GE, ABB, Siemens, and Westinghouse) exited the industry after several years of competition. We show that the vast differences...
Article
Based on Phase I of a UK-India collaborative study, this paper analyses two case studies of low carbon technologies--hybrid vehicles and coal-fired power generation via integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC). The analysis highlights the following six key considerations for the development of policy aimed at facilitating low carbon technology...
Chapter
This book shows that although innovations in energy systems represent a core contribution to achieving national and international energy policy goals, theoretical approaches to understanding innovation differ radically between separate disciplinary perspectives. The need for greater mutual learning between these approaches is met within this study...
Article
Social acceptance of renewable energy innovation has often been discussed in the context of large renewable technology projects, acceptance having been seen as rather passive consent by the public. The potential importance of micro-generation technologies in the future energy supply mix and policymakers’ increasing attention to these technologies r...
Article
El presente informe es un documento ocasional de investigación como antecedente para el Informe de Desarrollo Humano 2007/2008 publicado por el Programa de las Naciones Unidas, el cual aborda como tema principal: la Lucha contra el cambio climático. Este informe se centra en el desarrollo y adopción de tecnologías más limpias del carbón que puedan...
Article
Full-text available
This report is the product of a two-year interdisciplinary research project: Unlocking the Power House. Its aim is to understand how microgeneration might be deployed, and to explore policies to support investment by consumers and energy companies. The research presented in the report was undertaken in parallel with significant policy developments,...
Conference Paper
Micro-generation in individual homes has been the subject of increasing policy and industry attention in recent years. Whilst a recent study has stated that micro-generation could meet 30-40% of UK electricity demand by 2050, deployment to date has been slow. In its Microgeneration Strategy the UK government has started to outline how deployment co...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents a case study of small, distributed electrical power generators, representing a potential substitute for large power plants, and raises questions regarding the ability of established manufacturers to manage this kind of technological transition. The analysis demonstrates that the step from experimental R&D to commercial product...
Article
Electricity generation by individual households (known as micro-generation) is attracting an increasing amount of interest within government, industry and the research community. This paper focuses on the potential for micro-generation to contribute to a more active role for household energy consumers in the development and operation of the energy...
Article
This paper explains the success and failure of two technologies for electricity generation. Both the combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) and fluidised bed boiler burn fossil fuels more cleanly than more traditional technologies. Whereas the CCGT has been used for an increasing number of new power plants during the past 15 years, the fluidised bed has...
Article
Electricity generation by individual households (known as micro-generation) is attracting an increasing amount of interest within government, industry and the research community. This paper focuses on the potential for micro-generation to contribute to a more active role for household energy consumers in the development and operation of the energy...
Article
Full-text available
Hydrogen is likely to become a major new fuel for transport and district or domestic-scale combined heat and power systems in the 21st century. Depending on the specific production technology, hydrogen can displace fossil fuels and limit or completely displace the production of carbon dioxide. It may also enhance energy system security through incr...