Dr Iain Soutar
Lecturer in Energy and Environmental Policy


Research interests

I am interested in the drivers and implications of processes of transformation within the energy system. Ongoing social and technological innovation is changing both the structure and the functioning of energy systems around the world. The processes and outcomes of such change can be understood as transformational: they comprise technologies and infrastructures that are fundamentally different in terms of nature, scale and geography, and involve broader, deeper and more dynamic forms of engagement with the society in which they are embedded. My research is concerned with understanding both the factors and the implications of these changes.

Research projects

I am currently working on the EPSRC-funded project ‘Stepping Up’, which seeks to better understand the role of governance in constraining or enabling the scaling up of low-impact innovations across the water-energy-food nexus.

Recent research outputs

Soutar I (2017) Community energy as a site for social and technological innovation. Chapter 7 in J. Backhaus, A. Genus, S. Lorek, E. Vadovics & J. Wittmayer (eds) Social Innovation and Sustainable Consumption: Research and Action for Societal Change. Routledge, London

Soutar I & Mitchell C (2017). Towards pragmatic narratives of societal engagement in the UK energy system. Energy Research and Social Science (Forthcoming Special Issue on Energy and the Future)

Soutar I (2017) Five fallacies of innovation, and what they mean for understanding the nexus. Stepping Up blog, Sept 2017

Soutar I (2017) Conditions for transformation in the water-energy-food nexus. Presentation given at Transformations 2017: Transformations in Practice, Dundee: 30 August – 1 September

Haltas I, Suckling J, Soutar I, Druckman A & Varga L (2017). Anaerobic digestion: a prime solution for water, energy, and food nexus challenges. 1st International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Resource Use in Food Chains, Berkshire: 19-20 April 2017

Soutar I (2017) Diversity and complexity at the nexus: Reflections from China. Stepping Up blog, August

Soutar I (2017) Balancing diversity and coherence in innovation space-making at the water-energy-food nexus.  Presentation at Energy-water-climate change nexus (EWCN) in a transitional economy: sustainability and resilience. 22-26 May 2017, Nanjing University, Jiangsu, China

Soutar I (2017) Nexus-relevant innovations: Insects as a novel source of protein. Stepping Up Blog: 30th January 2017

Soutar I & Mitchell C, 2017. Towards pragmatic narratives of societal engagement in the UK energy system. Presentation at AAG Annual Meeting, 6 April 2017: Boston, USA.

Soutar IKeeping up with the costs of energy system change. Presentation to Yealm Community Energy, March 2017

Soutar I & Mitchell C (2016) Grappling with Wickedness: The articulation of WEF nexus governance in the UK. Presentation at RGS Annual Conference, September 2016: London 

Soutar I (2016). Nexus-relevant innovations: Anaerobic digestion. Stepping Up Blog: 19th September 2016

Soutar I. (2016) From local to global value: The transformational nature of community energy. PhD Thesis. University of Exeter

Woodman B, Soutar I & Mitchell C. (2016) Response to Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into role of Treasury in relation to Sustainable Development.

Soutar I (2015) Forget the ‘trilemma’ – tackling the fourth challenge of inertia is the key to unlocking a sustainable energy future. New Thinking Blog, 12th January, 2015

Soutar I. (2015) The role of social capital in energy systems transformation: Insights from community energy. Paper presented at SCORAI Workshop on ‘Beyond transition? Understanding & Achieving Sustainable Consumption through Social Innovation, Vienna, November 2015

Soutar I (2015) Social capital: a key ingredient of energy system transformation. EPG Blog, 16th June, 2015

Kuzemko C, Britton J, Soutar I & Woodman B. (2015) Written response: Inquiry into A smarter energy future for Wales.

Soutar I (2015) The strategic importance of democratising energy. EPG Blog, 8th October, 2015

Soutar I. (2015) The use (and abuse?) of evidence in the development of the UK Community Energy Strategy. Talk given at the GSI Conference: The interface between sustainability research and policy. Anglia Ruskin University, 26-27 Jan 2015

Kuzemko C, Britton J, Hoggett R, Mitchell C, Soutar I. & Steward T. (2015) Ofgem Consultation Response: NTBMs: Supporting transformative change in the energy market.

Soutar I (2014) Notes for an energy policy resolution. EPG Blog, 14th January, 2014

Soutar I. (2014) Is small-scale beautiful (and how beautiful?): Understanding the role of community energy within the wider UK energy system. Talk given at Norwich Conference on Earth Systems Governance, 1-3 July 2014, UEA

Soutar I. (2014) Moving the immovable: Is community energy a system changer? Energy Policy Group Seminar, Jan 2014, Penryn, UK

Soutar I & Whiting J (2013) Energy Security Policy in Britain: Markets, Complexity and Challenges. In Mitchell, C.; Watson, J. and Whiting, J. (eds.) New Challenges in Energy Security: The UK in a Multipolar World, Palgrave Macmillian

Soutar I, Hoggett R, Devine Wright P & Fudge S. (2013) Submission by the Energy Policy Group and Environment and Sustainability Research Group of the University of Exeter to the Call for Evidence concerning a Community Energy Strategy. 

Soutar I. (2013) Evidencing value and the value of evidence: What role for small-scale energy in the UK?  Poster presented at the UKERC Summer School, 6-11 July 2013, Warwick University

Soutar I. (2013) What role for small-scale energy? Understanding the value of challenging large-scale lock-in. Talk given at Facing the Future Symposium, 10-12 April 2013, Dundee

Soutar I (2013) Honesty amid complexity: What role for evidence in energy policy?. EPG Blog, 2nd September, 2013

Rowan JS, Carwardine J, Duck RW, Bragg OM, Black AR, Cutler MEJ, Soutar I & Boon PJ, 2006. Development of a technique for Lake Habitat Survey (LHS) with applications for the European Union Water Framework Directive. Aquatic Conservation-Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 16, 637-657.

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