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Non-technical barriers for decentralised energy and energy efficient buildings

Chris I. Goodier (School of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Ksenia Chmutina (School of Civil and Building Engineering, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

International Journal of Energy Sector Management

ISSN: 1750-6220

Article publication date: 28 October 2014




This paper aims to demonstrate the complex inter-relationship of non-technical barriers involved in the implementation of decentralised energy (DE) projects. To meet its ambitious 2050 target of 80 per cent carbon emission reduction, the UK needs to increase dramatically the wider uptake of DE systems. Many examples exist internationally of DE systems leading to enhanced carbon emissions reductions, including systems based not only on technological but also on more innovative policy, financial and social-economic approaches.


Following semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and thematic analysis with NVivo8, four exemplar international DE case studies have been investigated.


The main non-technical barriers were not necessarily financial, as is often believed; governance barriers, such as out-of-date regulations or unreliable partners, can also play a critical role in a project’s success or failure. Social barriers such as public apathy and misinformation often affect a project’s operation. It is further hypothesised that non-technical barriers are often shaped by personal and/or organisational values related to consumption, abundance, trust and control. Finally, recommendations are provided on overcoming these barriers with regards replicating similar DE projects in the UK context.


A systematic perspective is presented, which takes into account the possible interactions between the various barriers and demonstrates that to remove some of these barriers, it is important to understand and account for their varied and interconnected nature.



This research was undertaken as a part of the CLUES (Challenging Lock-in through Urban Energy Systems) project supported by funding from the EPSRC under the SUE programme (Grant ref.: EP/1002170/1). The authors would like to thank their project colleagues for their helpful comments.


I. Goodier, C. and Chmutina, K. (2014), "Non-technical barriers for decentralised energy and energy efficient buildings", International Journal of Energy Sector Management, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 544-561.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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