Belief or compliance? Drivers of urban renewable energy initiatives

The UK has set an ambitious plan to substantially cut its GHG emissions. In order to meet this 2050 target of 80% reduction, the UK is facing a significant challenge of restructuring its energy system. One of the ways to do so is to introduce wider use of decentralised energy systems. There is, however, a significant lack of understanding regarding which main factors actually drive these urban energy projects. Following semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, nine UK and four international exemplar cases have been analysed and critiqued in order to demonstrate and investigate the variety and inter-relationship of the drivers encouraging their implementation. The role of regulation and belief in sustainability as drivers for implementing innovative urban energy initiatives are explored, as are the differing impacts of these drivers in the UK and abroad. This paper demonstrates that currently there is a lack of investigation into the motivations of the organisation to implement decentralised energy (DE) projects. Thus, it is important to focus on understanding the reasons why companies might improve environmental performance, as this could aid authorities in formulating more appropriate policies to enhance this improvement.