Dr Jake Barnes


Research Groups

Dr Jake Barnes

Researcher in Low Carbon Heat Policy


Jake joined the Environmental Change Institute in March 2018 to critically investigate, explore and engage with low carbon heat policy in the UK. Prior to this Jake worked as a Research Associate at the University of Exeter – exploring innovative means to reduce energy demand within local authority buildings – and as a Research Fellow within the Sussex Energy Group at SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit – at the University of Sussex. He has a background in international relations, energy policy and grassroots activism.

Jake’s research combines ideas and approaches from innovation studies with policy and governance studies to investigate how progress towards low carbon energy systems and sustainability transitions more broadly can be achieved. His research interests include the politics and sociology of innovation and change at community through city-regional scales to national systems. Jake has worked with local governments, community groups and social enterprises to reflect, learn and pursue societal transformations.

Current Research

Low Carbon Heat Policy in the UK.

To date significant attention has been given to the question of how to decarbonise the UK’s electricity system. Significantly less attention has been directed towards the decarbonisation of heat. Heating and hot water in UK buildings accounts for approximately 40% of end-use energy and 20% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. To meet the UK’s 2050 climate targets these emissions we need to be largely eliminated. Quite how this is to be achieved is to a large extent unknown. Multiple technological options exist each with different challenges and barriers. What we do know is that a prospective heat transition in the UK will require coordination and strong government support both nationally and locally. In this project I’ll take a socio-technical, whole systems approach to investigate aspects of innovation processes, actor strategies, social acceptance and political struggles in the prospective transition towards lower carbon heat systems.

Energy Publics.

It is increasingly recognised that the process of transforming energy systems will require the increased engagement and involvement of 'the public'. Public participation has traditionally been viewed as occurring through discrete events (e.g. consultations), on singular topics (e.g. the siting of renewable technologies) with an assumed external public. Contemporary energy participation, meanwhile, takes increasingly diverse and evolving forms. Participation through opinion polls, protests, maker spaces and smart technology trials and so on all contribute to making energy publics hard to pin down. As a result, it is not yet well understood how and where energy participation is occurring. This project aims to help fill this gap by undertaking a rapid review of evidence for contemporary forms of energy participation within the West of England area, between 2015-2017, and analysing the resulting database using a 'whole systems' approach.