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Professor Catherine Mitchell

Professor Catherine Mitchell

Professor Emerita of Energy Policy

 Stella Turk Building 

 

University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, TR10 9FE

Overview

Catherine Mitchell is Professor of Energy Policy at Exeter University.

She retired and became a Professor Emerita on 1 October  2021.

Catherine stepped down from being Director of the Energy Policy Group (EPG) of the University of Exeter at the end of 2019.

Catherine has worked on energy issues since the early 1980s. She worked previously as an academic in the Centre for Management Under Regulation at the Warwick Business School, University of Warwick (2000-2007); the Energy Group of the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex (1990-2000); and the Energy and Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley (1999). Prior to that she was a journalist writing about oil and gas issues (1982-6).

Her undergraduate degree is History (London); her Masters was in Energy and Environmental Studies within the Geography Department of Boston University (USA); and her PhD is in the field of Technology and Innovation from the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex.

She is a Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of  Chapter 13 (National and Sub-National Policy and Institutions) of the IPCC Working Group 3’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6, starting April 2019); she was a Lead Author (LA) in the IPCC Working Group 3’s Fifth Assessment report (AR5) and a coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of the Policy, Financing & Implementation Chapter of the IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation 2008-2011.She also was a Lead Analyst of sub-Chapter 13 (Policy) of Chapter 11 (Renewable Energy) of the Global Energy Assessment undertaken through the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) 2008-2010.

She is on the Advisory Board of the GB based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU). She was Chair of the Regulatory Assistance Project – a US based non-profit organisation that provides regulatory advice to Governments, and has held multiple other positions (see below). She advises numerous national and international companies, NGOs and institutions (national and international) on various aspects of the transition to a sustainable energy system.

Catherine was an EPSRC Established Career Fellow leading a 7 year project (2012-2019) Innovation and Governance for Future Energy Systems (IGov1 and 2). This came to an end on 31 December 2019 http://projects.exeter.ac.uk/igov/

Membership and Advisory Positions:

  • Member, HMT Treasury Net Zero Review Advisory Board, 2020-2021

  • Member, BEIS Ministerial Working Group on Innovation and Governance, 2020

  • Member, ESO RIIO-2 Stakeholder Group, July 2018 - 2020.

  • Member, Prospering the Energy Revolution Advisory Group, UKRI-Innovate UK, October 2018 -2020.

  • Member, Challenge Panel for National Infrastructure Commission Regulatory Review, 2018-2019

  • Member, Advisory Board WinWind, EC Project, 2018-2021. 

  • Member, Ofgem Design Advisory Board for Electricity Settlement Reform, Oct 2017 - 2020 

  • CLA, Chapter 13, National and Subnational Policies and Institutions, WG3, IPCC AR6, April 2018 onwards

  • Visiting Professor, Energy Systems Analysis Group, DTU, Copenhagen, Autumn 2018.

  • Part of Advisory Board for I-REMB: Innovative re-making of markets and business models in a renewable energy system based on wind power, DIST - Center For Design, Innovation, and Sustainable Transition, Aalborg University, April 2016 onwards

  • Guest Professor, Danish Technical University Systems Analysis team, October –December 2017.

  • Keynote Speaker, Ofgem (GB Energy Regulator) Energy Systems Division 2017 Away Day.

  • Member,  Nature Energy Editorial Advisory Panel in Social Science and Policy 2015 onwards

  • Advisory Board Member of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. London

  • Chair of The Regulatory Assistance Project, Montpelier, Vermont (2015-2019)

  • Advisory Group Member of Smart Energy for Europe Platform, examining the post-2020 framework for investments in renewable generation in Europe

  • Lead Author of Chapter 15 National and Sub-National Policies and Institutions of the IPCC’s WG3 AR5 Report on Mitigation of Climate Change, published 2014

  • Co-ordinating Lead Author of the Policy, Financing & Implementation Chapter of the IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change) Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, published 2011

  • Lead Analyst of sub-Chapter 13 (Policy) of Chapter 11 (Renewable Energy) of the Global Energy Assessment undertaken through the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), published 2012

  • Responsible for policy and regulation in supply theme, UK Energy Research Centre Phase 1 and 2 ( 2004-2009, 2009-2014)

  • Chairperson of the BIEE (2010); Vice Chair (2009)

  • Member of Balancing & Settlement Code Panel, 2008 - 2010

  • Principle Investigator, Energy Security in a Multi-Polar World 2008-2012 (Interdisciplinary research cluster involving energy policy, international relations and supply chain analysis to analyse the various temporal and dimensional aspects of energy security)

  • Member of Advisory Board for BRITE (Bristol Technologies for the Environment) until 2008

  • Member of the IPCC scoping meeting on Renewable Energy Sources, January 2008, Germany

  • Strategy Advisor to the IEA Renewable Energy Technology Deployment Integrating Agreement, 2007

  • International Advisor to New Zealand Government Energy Review, October 2006-March 2007

  • Member, Advisory Board for Sustainable Development Commission Inquiry into Ofgem, the Energy Regulator, 2006-2007

  • Principle Investigator, Policy and Regulatory Resource for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (a Public-Private partnership, launched by the United Kingdom along with other partners at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002)

  • Member, Scientific Advisory Panel, Towards a Sustainable Energy Future, Research Councils UK, 2003-2006

  • Member, Scientific Advisory Panel of the Centre for Analysis of Society and Environment at Risoe National Laboratory, Denmark, 2003-2006

  • Chairperson, 2003, GB Renewable Energy Planning Panel (report published November 2003)

  • Member, UK Government’s Energy Advisory Panel, 1998-2003, two terms

  • Member, Performance and Innovation Unit Energy Review Team, Cabinet Office, 2001-2 and Member, Resource Productivity Team, Cabinet Office, 2001

  • Member of the DTI / DETR / Ofgem Embedded Generation Working Group 1999-2000.

  • Positions held prior to 2000 not listed here.

Broad research specialisms:

Catherine’s research interest is how to accelerate the transition from the current ‘dirty’ energy system to a sustainable energy system in order to meet net zero by 2035, whilst also meeting other energy policy goals such as security and equity. She views this question as a system issue. This requires addressing all the issues which make up a system such as policy (and politics), institutions (including economic regulation), infrastructure, economics, innovation, law and planning. She is interested in what enables, constrains or channels energy system innovation at a local, regional, national and international level. She is also interested in the overlapping spheres of energy (including transport), waste resources and food policy and how energy policy fits within the broader climate change policy

Links

Research group links

Research

Research interests

Catherine's research interest is the governance needs of how to undertake the transition from the current ‘dirty’ energy system to a sustainable energy system; and how to increase the rate of change to enable the meeting of  net zero - preferably by 2035.  She views this question as a system issue. This requires addressing all governance issues such as politics, policy, institutions (including economic regulation), infrastructure (and its rules and incentives), economics and markets, and people and their behaviour. She is interested in what enables, constrains or channels energy system innovation at a local, regional, national and international level. She is also interested in the overlapping spheres of energy (including transport), waste resources, water and food policy and how energy policy fits within the broader climate change policy.

Research projects

IGov2: Innovation and Governance for Future Energy Systems – (2016-2019).
Catherine is the Principle Investigator for a 3 year extension of an EPSRC Established Career Fellowship - IGov, described below. IGov has shown that GB's energy governance is slow at changing, including with respect to the demand side, and that GB is following a somewhat different low carbon technological path than other European countries, especially those which are most determined to meet their low carbon targets (i.e. Germany and Denmark). Energy system practice change is happening more quickly in some countries and US States with respect to technology use, new entrants, business models, customer engagement and ownership, and this system change appears to be speeding up and becoming increasingly decentralised.

Seven issues have emerged about the scale, speed and scope of changes in energy practices by new actors around the world. These are:

(1) that there are increasingly rapid changes in many other countries, as explained above;
(2) that there appears to be a social, technical, and economic tipping point in favour of a new energy trajectory, even while energy systems remain dominated by fossil fuels;
(3) the nature of change appears to be leading to an increasingly linked but increasingly decentralised energy system; and some changes appears to have their own momentum - like a group of birds 'flocking' or a starling's 'murmuration'.

This pattern of change raises
(4) concerns about possible disruption, either technical or economic; and whether Britain could 'manage' the transition process;
(5) questions about the nature of the future energy system;
(6) whether the form that change is taking and the types of energy governance responses in different countries are related to their differing political economy institutions; and finally
(7) concerns that the current fossil fuel disinvestment campaign will have an unexpectedly rapid impact on energy systems, with implications for governance. IGov2 will explore these issues, and their implications for GB energy governance.

IGov: Innovation, Governance and Affordability for a Sustainable and Secure Economy - IGov (2012-2016).
Catherine is the Principle Investigator for a new EPSRC Established Career Fellowship – IGov. This will examine the relationships between innovation, governance, energy demand and affordability. It will do this by exploring the means by which interactions take place within energy systems and their implications for innovation in respect to carbon targets, technology deployment, investment, new practices, customer involvement, energy efficiency, and the total cost of energy for customers. Specifically the research will consider the relationships between institutions, policy design (such as rules and incentives within the gas and electricity systems (markets and infrastructure), industry structure, incumbent and new entrant company strategies and decision-making processes and consumer practices.

The programme covered four years in four countries with very different innovation histories. In particular, it will analyse the implications of different innovation and governance relationships on the success or otherwise of energy demand reduction and issues of affordability. Finally, it will analyse the implications of the findings on long term strategic innovation in energy systems, building upon, and contributing to, the literature and analysis of socio-technical transitions, coevolutionary analysis, institutional economics and policy paradigms. The outcomes will lead to a better understanding of how the transition to a sustainable, low carbon energy system, can occur.

The five person research team is being led by Catherine and is supported by a high level expert panel. This includes UK and international academics working on transition theory, representatives from large and small energy companies, the UK energy regulator, as well as practitioners from the wider energy community who work with a range of stakeholders from across the energy sector. The research will be carried out in respect to the UK energy system and with international comparative analysis within Denmark, Germany, California and Texas. Find out more on the website - www.exeter.ac.uk/igov.

Other Projects

Catherine was part of the Aures project. She was also on the advisory board of I-REMB ; She was Co-I in the Oxford Policy Management Energy and Economic Growth project (undertaken by Bridget Woodman in the EPG, see her webpage for more details). She was a Co-I in Stepping UP, undertaken by Iain Soutar and see his webpage for more details.She was also responsible for a governance section of Sim4Nexus, with Nicola Hole as the key researcher. She was also CO-I of the UKERC Heat Incumbancy project - please see Bridget Woodman or Richard Lowes’ web pages; and she was Co-I on the Cornwall Local Energy Market Project (please see Bridget Woodman or Rachel Bray’s web page).

Catherine was the Principal Investigator of the ESRC/EPSRC interdisciplinary research cluster into Energy Security in a Multi-Polar World (2009-2013). This brought together the different disciplines of energy policy, international relations and supply chain analysis to analyse the various temporal and dimensional aspects of energy security. The purpose of the research cluster was to strengthen the understanding of British energy security, in two main ways.

  • First, to expand knowledge concerning how to make Britain more energy secure now, in the short term.
  • Second, to analyse what has to be done in the short term, to ensure that energy security will be maintained in the medium to long term, with particular reference to the supply chains of oil and gas supply and sustainable energy technologies.

The ‘new’ or ‘distinctive’ element of this project was to bring together three overlapping disciplinary research areas of expertise to address the problem of energy security: energy policy, international relations and research about supply chains. There has long been a distinction within the energy policy discourse between internal and external sources of energy security or insecurity. The energy policy debate is, as yet, limited in its ability to incorporate new, or alternative, approaches to analysing and explaining evolving international contexts and their implications for domestic energy security and it is intended that this research cluster will address this and explore how Britain could develop strategic, flexible relationships with energy supply countries.

The ESWM research cluster published a book www.exeter.ac.uk/igov/book-new-challenges-in-energy-security/ on it is findings and further general information on ESMW is available from - www.exeter.ac.uk/energysecurity

Catherine’s research work also linked closely to her other colleagues Bridget Woodman, Richard Hoggett, Jess Britton, Richard Lowes, Antony Froggatt, Becky Willis, Iain Soutar, Oscar Fitch-Roy, Rachel Bray, Nicola Hole, Julie Smith, Helen Poulter ;  to her Phd students Thomas Pownall, and Emily Judson; and to the associate fellows.

Projects only undertaken at Exeter are listed here.

Catherine closed all projects by the end of 2020. 

Links


External Engagement and Impact

Committee/panel activities

Member, HMT Treasury Net Zero Review Advsiory Board, 2020-2021

Member, BEIS Ministerial Working Group on Innovation and Governance, 2020

Member, ESO RIIO-2 Stakeholder Group, July 2018 -2020.

Member, Prospering the Energy Revolution Advisory Group, UKRI-Innovate UK, October 2018 - 2020

Member, Challenge Panel for National Infrastructure Commission Regulatory Review, 2018-2019

Member, Advisory Board WinWind, EC Project, 2018 onwards.

Member, Ofgem Design Advisory Board for Electricity Settlement Reform, Oct 2017 - 2020

CLA, Chapter 13, Policies and Institutions, WG3, IPCC AR6, April 2018 onwards

Visiting Professor, Energy Systems Analysis Group, DTU, Copenhagen, Autumn 2018.

Guest Professor, Danish Technical University Systems Analysis team, October –December 2017.

Private Briefing to BEIS Select Committee on Energy Prices, October 2017.

Keynote Speaker, Ofgem (GB Energy Regulator) Energy Systems Division 2017 Away Day.

Member, Advisory Board of I-REMB – Innovative rem-making of markets and business models in a renewable energy system based on wind power (a Danish funded project with PI Peter Karnoe), 2016 onwards.  

Member,  Nature Energy Editorial Advisory Panel in Social Science and Policy 2015 onwards

Advisory Board Member of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit

EPSRC Established Career Fellowship, Innovation and Governance 1 and 2, 2012-2019

Chair, The Regulatory Assistance Project, Montpelier, Vermont 2015-2019

Advisory Group Member of Smart Energy for Europe Platform, examining the post-2020 framework for investments in renewable generation in Europe

Lead Author of Chapter 15 National and Sub-National Policies and Institutions of the IPCC’s WG3 AR5 Report on Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change , forthcoming 2011-2014

Co-ordinating Lead Author of the Policy, Financing & Implementation Chapter of the IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change) Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation 2008-2010

Lead Analyst of sub-Chapter 13 (Policy) of Chapter 11 (Renewable Energy) of the Global Energy Assessment undertaken through the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) 2008-2010

Responsible for policy and regulation in supply theme, UK Energy Research Centre Phase 1 and 2 ( 2004-2009, 2009-2014)

Chairperson of the BIEE (2010); Vice Chair (2009)

Member of Balancing & Settlement Code Panel, 2008 - 2010

Principle Investigator, Energy Security in a Multi-Polar World 2009-2013 (Interdisciplinary research cluster involving energy policy, international relations and supply chain analysis to analyse the various temporal and dimensional aspects of energy security)

Member of Advisory Board for BRITE (Bristol Technologies for the Environment)

Member of the IPCC scoping meeting on Renewable Energy Sources, January 2008, German

Strategy Advisor to the IEA Renewable Energy Technology Deployment Integrating Agreement, 2007

International Advisor to New Zealand Government Energy Review, October 2006-March 2007

Member, Advisory Board for Sustainable Development Commission Inquiry into Ofgem, the Energy Regulator, 2006-2007

Principle Investigator, Policy and Regulatory Resource for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (a Public-Private partnership, launched by the United Kingdom along with other partners at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002)

Member, Scientific Advisory Panel, Towards a Sustainable Energy Future, Research Councils UK, 2003-2006

Member, Scientific Advisory Panel of the Centre for Analysis of Society and Environment at Risoe National Laboratory, Denmark, 2003-2006

Chairperson, 2003, GB Renewable Energy Planning Panel (report published November 2003)

Member, UK Government’s Energy Advisory Panel, 1998-2003, two terms

Member, Performance and Innovation Unit Energy Review Team, Cabinet Office, 2001-2 and Member, Resource Productivity Team, Cabinet Office, 2001

Member, DTI/DETR/OFGEM Working Group on Embedded Generation, March 2000 – February 2001

Member, DTI Working Group on Photovoltaics, October- December 2000

Non-Executive Director, Renewable Energy Association, 2002-7

Member, Advisory Board of Centre for Sustainable Energy, Bristol, UK, 2002 (ongoing)

Specialist Advisor to the Welsh Affairs Select Committee Enquiry into Wind Energy, 1994 – 1995

Teaching

Catherine is no longer teaching undergraduates. She has two PhD students: Tom Pownall (electricity market design) and Emily Judson (data and democratisation issues).

Catherine Mitchell has taught extensively on both postgraduate and undergraduate courses within the Geography School of the University of Exeter as well as contributing to other programmes at other institutions as a visiting lecturer. She covered topics such as energy policy, the low carbon economy, climate change, energy demand, energy security and energy economics. 

Catherine has acted as external examiner for numerous PhD students.

Modules

2021/22

Information not currently available


Supervision / Group

Postdoctoral researchers

Postgraduate researchers

Alumni

  • Joseph Dutton
  • Lena Kitzing
  • Thomas Steward
  • Heinke Thies

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