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Assessing energy security in a lowcarbon context: the case of electricity in the UK


  • Emily Cox

    (SPRU (Science Policy Research), University of Sussex)


As part of a growing body of research into potential ways of achieving a secure transition to a low-carbon energy system, this paper assesses the future security of the UK electricity system in a low-carbon context. A new mixed-method set of indicators for assessing security of both supply and demand has been developed and applied to a set of three transition pathways for the UK electricity system, all of which seek to reduce UK carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. This paper uses the results to highlight some of the key risks and trade-offs which may emerge under different routes to a low-carbon electricity transition. In particular, the results indicate that a major risk may be experienced by a lack of flexible, responsive supply capacity in low-carbon electricity pathways. A trade-off is also identified between ‘affordability’ and ‘environmental sustainability’ objectives. The paper finds that energy security is often conceptualised as the avoidance of causes of insecurity (such as insecure fuel imports), but that an equally important aspect of security lies in maximising responses to insecurity, for example by increasing the flexibility and responsiveness of both supply and demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Emily Cox, 2016. "Assessing energy security in a lowcarbon context: the case of electricity in the UK," SPRU Working Paper Series 2016-07, SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:2016-07

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    energy security; low-carbon transition; electricity systems;
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