About IGov

The IGov project finished in Dec 2019 and this site is no longer updated.

IGov: Innovation and Governance  


Tackling climate change whilst ensuring energy security and affordability is a key challenge facing energy systems within GB and internationally. The goal of moving towards a more sustainable, low-carbon economy implies the need for a radical transition in the way that energy is both supplied and used, and the way that energy systems are operated. Such a change relates not only to the technologies that are developed and deployed but also the wider political, social, and economic institutions and infrastructures in which they are embedded. This is a dynamic and complex process. The interactions between these factors and the choices made by the different actors within the energy system, including policy makers, large firms, new entrants, investors, and people, all influence the way that change occurs. In recent years there have been fundamental changes to energy systems, due to a wide range of technological, social and economic drivers, and there is some consensus that direction of travel is towards decentralisation, the demand side and the development of a more hybrid energy system. A key issue is how actors respond to these changes and how disruptive it may be for actors across the whole energy system and the economy as a whole. This is the context in which the IGov research is taking place.

The IGov research sits within the University of Exeter’s Energy Policy Group and is an Established Career Fellowship funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). IGov is a seven year project, the first phase, IGov 1 (Innovation, Governance and Affordability for a Sustainable Secure Economy) ran from 2012 to 2016 and examined the governance of the current energy system, which includes the rules, regulations and institutions that are in place and specifically how these enable or hinder a move towards a more sustainable, demand focussed energy system. The next phase, IGov 2 (Innovation, Governance and Affordability for Future Energy Systems) runs until October 2019. Within this second phase, we are exploring the energy system change that is happening at the moment; the different dimensions of that change, the reasons behind it and how actors and governance are responding.

Throughout the project, the IGov team will be producing journal articles, giving presentations, writing blogs and running webinars and workshops. These will be added to our research and events pages and publicised through the website. We will also be providing Global Insights on energy system and governance changes throughout the project. You can receive updates about all of this work and our events by signing up for the IGov RSS feed or by following us on twitter @exeterepg.

More information on each phase of the IGov research is below.

You can find out more about the IGov Team here and our Advisory Group here.


IGov 2: Innovation and Governance for Future Energy Systems

IGov argues that the GB energy system effectively runs along two streams: the conventional ‘old’ energy system and the ‘new’ entrants and non-traditional practices which are occurring around the edges of the conventional systems. Within IGov 2, we are focusing on energy system change that is happening at the moment and the different dimensions of that change, such as: business models; technology; markets; networks; ownership; the role of people; political systems; system operation; economics; social preferences, etc. We will seek to better understand the reasons for some of the changes that are occurring, the political economy context in which they are happening, and how actors across the whole energy system are reacting and adapting to this change. We want to understand the governance needs of the ‘new’ system and its actors and what the opportunities are to capture these benefits within GB.

This will include research within the UK and look at what is happening in terms of energy and governance in other countries – specifically some US states, Australia, Denmark, Germany and Portugal, whilst monitoring significant changes elsewhere in the globe. Within this work we are interested in: whether tipping points have occurred and how they have manifested themselves; how different places have managed disruption; how ‘new’ actors / entrants exist/develop, and the ways in which they (and innovation) are encouraged (or not), and the impacts of that elsewhere in the system, on costs, for business models etc.

The research is split into four work programmes, examining: The nature of change; what are the responses to change; contextualising and understanding change; and policy recommendations – see below. Within this we will be considering governance from a new perspective in terms of who wants to innovate and how incumbents are responding. We will continue to focus on the demand side in relation to demand reduction, demand side response and distributed energy resources, framed by the growing urgency for taking a whole system approach to transforming the energy system.


IGov 1: Innovation, Governance and Affordability for a Sustainable Secure Economy

Within IGov 1 we showed that the governance arrangements that are in place shape the design and implementation of regulations, markets and institutions. As such, in its widest sense, the governance framework is what ultimately shapes the way in which actors make money within the energy system, and it influences which actors, technologies and approaches are encouraged, undermined or excluded. Getting the governance system right is therefore a key aspect in enabling an effective energy transformation as it plays a central role in the technical, economic and social changes that occur.

An issue that became clear within the research is that whilst technology development and deployment races ahead, both infrastructure and regulation are lagging behind. This lag can slow down and undermine the low carbon transformation and increase its costs. IGov 1 argued that the current governance framework has slowed change in GB and continues to do so. Much of the value is still going to the ‘old’ system, in terms of existing technologies, system operation and actors. Also that there is a gap between rhetoric and practice, with energy policy often taking one step forward and two steps back in terms of move towards a sustainable, secure and affordable energy system.

IGov 1 identified a number of specific challenges that need to be addressed in order to move from the current energy system to a future one that meets the energy system challenges, and these fell under four areas: Problems to do with transparency & legitimacy of decision-making; Problems to do with current institutions; Problems to do with operation; and a number of things that are lacking within the current governance frameworks. Based on these findings we identified six principles for institutional reform and proposed a fit-for-purpose institutional governance framework that could deliver these changes – figure below. The six principles included:

1. Starting with and centred on, the consumer

2. Facilitating local markets

3. Open and transparent access to data

4. Greater coordination and integration

5. Long-term political stability

6. Transparency and legitimacy in policy making



For a summary of our thinking on governance problems, principles for reform and a framework for change see our paper: GB Energy Governance for Innovation, Sustainability and Affordability.

All of the IGov 1 outputs are available on this website. Some of the main written outputs are included below, there is also an extensive blog series available at New Thinking for Energy; a large number of IGov presentations are also available. For a complete summary of the IGov 1 research there is a detailed presentation showing all the outputs and the emerging impact.

Analysis and thinking on Governance


GB Energy Governance Insights


International Governance Insights


IGov 1 Events 



2 Responses to: About IGov

Scroll to top