The role of community-owned renewable energy in Australia's transition to a low-carbon future

Community energy is an emerging sector that offers alternate types of ownership models and wealth creation whilst delivering social and environmental benefits at the local level. However, in Australia it is less prevalent than is seen in comparable countries, with few community owned renewable energy projects currently operating, totalling approximately 10MW of capacity. This PhD project will explore why this is the case, what role community energy may play in Australia's transition to a low carbon future, how this might be achieved, and the implications of this transition.

Global environmental governance, traditional ecological knowledge and blue carbon

This study presents an analysis of global blue carbon governance – including market-based instruments, public investment, partnership initiatives, and community-centred management schemes – and evaluates the extent to which these different approaches facilitate or constrain the integration of indigenous and local knowledge. The paper offers valuable insights on the applicability of different blue carbon governance mechanisms to small island states (SIS) in the Pacific, and their potential to contribute to sustainability outcomes including social-ecological health and environmental justice.

This project was commenced by Carolina Contreras in mid-2017. 

Banner image: CIFOR under Creative Commons.

Searching history for solutions to climate inaction

Across the world, policymakers are grappling with the challenge of transitioning from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy. The complexity of this transition requires policymakers to consider a diverse array of complex and technical questions: is the best mechanism for incentivising emission reductions market instruments? How should policymakers redesign the change our transport system to incorporate a growing number of electric vehicles? 

One approach policymakers can use to competently deal with these complex questions is to use research. There is much research on energy transitions that is relevant to policymakers working on the transition.

One relevant area is transition studies. But are policymakers working on the energy transition making use of this research, or perhaps other areas of research? The problem is that we do not know. There is a well-developed literature describing how policymakers use research and what factors affect research use. There is also empirical literature on how public officials in general use research.

But there is a lack of empirical research on how energy policymakers in particular use research. This gap in the research utilization literature raises a range of important questions. Are energy policymakers using research? If not, why not? If yes, what research are they using, and what is its quality according to EBPM standards? Why are they using it in the way they do?

Perhaps most importantly, is there anything we can learn from the way research is being used to accelerate the energy transition?


This PhD project is being undertaken by Seb Rattansen.


Banner image: Translation: The Paris Accord - It is done!  U.S. Department of State from United States [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Text taken from the Climate and Energy College website with Seb's permission