Dr Iain Soutar
Lecturer in Energy and Environmental Policy
Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK
Office hours: Term 3: Tuesdays and Fridays, 10-11am (please email ahead of time to secure a meeting slot).
Term 3: Tuesdays and Fridays, 10-11am (please email ahead of time to secure a meeting slot).
I am an environmental social scientist with a wide range of research interests. My research generally focuses on developing a better understanding of innovation and systemic inertia in energy and other complex systems, and the implications thereof for meeting both policy and societal objectives. This currently focuses on the following themes:
- Coevolution of social and technological innovation
- Digitalisation and democratisation within energy systems
- Governing for uncertainty in complex systems
- Whole-systems and cross-systems thinking
- The water-energy-food nexus
2016 PhD (Exeter)
2009 MSc (Cranfield)
2004 BSc (Dundee)
Research group links
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.
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
Judson E, Fitch-Roy O, Pownall T, Bray R, Poulter H, Soutar I, Lowes R, Connor P, Britton J, Woodman B, et al (2019). The centre cannot (always) hold: examining pathways towards energy system de-centralisation. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 118. Full text
Hoolohan C, Soutar I, Suckling J, Druckman A, Larkin A, McLachlan C (2019). Stepping-up innovations in the water–energy–food nexus: a case study of anaerobic digestion in the UK. Geographical Journal, 185(4), 391-405.
Soutar I (2018) We need to talk about (deep) energy democracy. EPG Blog, 12 November 2018
Suckling J, Hoolohan C & Soutar I (2018) The importance of studying innovation in complex systems: A case study of anaerobic digestion in the UK. Geographical Directions blog, 9 August 2018
Hoolohan C, Soutar I, Suckiling J, Druckman A, Larkin A & McLachlan C (2018) Stepping-up innovations in the water-energy-food nexus: A case study of anaerobic digestion in the UK. The Geographical Journal, July 2018
Soutar I (2018) Energy System Change: Insights for the Circular Economy? Presentation given at a symposium on "Circular Economy Disruptions: Past, Present and Future", University of Exeter, 9 June 2018
Soutar I (2018) Understanding Innovation at the Water-Energy-Food Nexus. Presentation given at the 9th International Sustainability Transition (IST) Conference, Manchester, 12 June 2018
Hoolohan C, Larkin A, McLachlan C, Falconer R, Soutar I, Suckling J, Varga L, Haltas I, Druckman A, Lumbroso D, et al (2018). Engaging stakeholders in research to address water-energy-food (WEF) nexus challenges. Sustainability Science
Soutar I, Hoggett R & Britton J (2018) Transforming energy systems: The 4Ds and community energy. Presentation given a workshop on Community Energy and Regulation, University of Exeter, 23 March 2018
Soutar I & Mitchell C (2018). Towards pragmatic narratives of societal engagement in the UK energy system. Energy Research and Social Science 35, January 2018
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 (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 I. Keeping 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.
Publications by category
Publications by year
Iain_Soutar Details from cache as at 2020-07-10 20:25:07
External Engagement and Impact
I co-founded, and coordinate ExeterEnergy, an interdisciplinary network of 140+ energy researchers at the University of Exeter
External reviewer for several energy-related MSc programmes for Universities of Oxford and Sussex
I am a regular reviewer for Environment and Planning A; Energy Research and Social Science; Energy Policy; Energies; Science and Culture; Energy Sources Part B: Economics, Planning and Policy
Supervision / Group
- Emily Judson: Governing energy system digitalisation for decarbonisation
- Helen Poulter: Adaptive governance for energy system transformation: A case study of the National Electricity Market in Eastern Australia
- Thomas Pownall: Re-designing electricity markets for a high-renewable future