Geographies of energy governance - negotiating low-carbon infrastructure in the European Union

  • Ralitsa Hiteva

Student thesis: Phd


ABSTRACTThe University of Manchester, Ralitsa Petrova Hiteva, Doctor of PhilosophyGeographies of energy governance: negotiating low-carbon infrastructures in the European Union16th December 2013This thesis focuses on energy governance in the EU. It examines the role of intermediaries in governing conflicts that emerge from changes in material energy landscapes (infrastructures, technologies, resources) and the policy landscapes associated with decarbonisation. The thesis assesses the impact that intermediaries have on the goals of low-carbon transition through case studies of energy governance in Bulgaria and the UK. Intermediaries here refer to organizations, individuals, networks or institutions operating in-between other actor groups. The argument made by this thesis is that their strategic position allows intermediaries to play a key role in shaping energy infrastructure and the context of low-carbon transitions in the EU to their advantage.By using a conceptual framework which brings together 5 bodies of literature - on governance, infrastructure networks, low-carbon transitions, power and intermediaries - the thesis examines several strategic energy sectors in Bulgaria (wind and solar power, natural gas and energy efficiency) and the United Kingdom (offshore wind). The research methods include extensive analysis of energy regulation and a range of official and unofficial secondary literature; 49 semi-structured interviews with energy elites and participant observation at 6 different events. The collected data were used to analyse the material landscapes of energy and a range of strategic institutions involved in regulating, producing, transmitting and distributing energy in Bulgaria and the UK. The key findings of the thesis are that intermediaries can translate, block or accelerate socio-technical change. Intermediaries can be tenacious barriers to change because of their physical integration within energy infrastructure networks. The thesis distinguishes between two types of intermediaries: those disabling and enabling to low-carbon energy objectives. Whether enabling or disabling, intermediaries have the ability to translate knowledge and interests between stakeholders by reordering and prioritising certain interests over others. By translating between stakeholders intermediaries amplify the impact of their own specific context, creating more local, regional and national differences in approaches within the EU. Through their integration within energy infrastructure and/or policy networks, intermediaries are capable of complementing hierarchical government, as well as competing with it in pursuing their own interests. However only intermediaries integrated within material energy infrastructure are able to reorder and change the priorities of the state, while intermediaries integrated within policy networks are limited in what they can translate and between whom.
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorSally Randles (Supervisor) & Stefan Bouzarovski (Supervisor)


  • Bulgaria, UK, EU, offshore wind, transmission, natural gas, energy governance, intermediaries

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