UCL Energy Institute



A collaborative research initiative aiming to bring socio-technical energy transition (STET) ideas into use within real world decision-making in the UK.

Diagram explaining OSTET project

1 November 2018

Project overview

O-STET (Operationalising Socio-technical Energy Transitions) is a collaborative research initiative aiming to bring socio-technical energy transition (STET) ideas into use within real world decision-making concerned with the UK’s energy transition towards decarbonisation.

STET analysis combines long-term frameworks, qualitative scenarios and quantitative modelling elements to improve understanding of how socio-technical change happens across the whole energy system. 

Early work in STET modelling has been dominated by retrospective studies rather than forward-looking analysis, and there has been a call for more operationalising of the insights from STET analysis. Achieving this will require proactively engaging with key institutions involved in the energy transition as well as giving tractable and actionable insights to decision makers. However, this should not be done at the expense of the important insights that STET provides into the complexity of the energy transition process throughout society.  

The O-STET project brings together a systems modelling team at UCL with a long track record in STET modelling, and experts in sustainability transitions from the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, working with staff from the Energy Systems Catapult.

Ongoing collaboration between these three teams will ensure a broad and applicable set of outcomes is achieved through the project. Strong stakeholder engagement is a key part of the project. A series of workshops with stakeholders that could benefit from the project is planned, along with dissemination meetings with government and the energy industry.

Funding and duration

    Project Duration

    Two years (November 2018 to October 2020)




    O-STET outcomes are expected to include the following:

    • A new STET model that can simulate major energy transition shocks, resultant impacts, feedbacks, virtuous cycles and tipping points
    • A stripped-down STET module that will provide improvements in representing real world system behaviours and can be added to existing energy system models 
    • A platform for stakeholder consensus building (e.g. through participatory model simulation)
    • A new set of scenarios that build shared narratives for a low-carbon future, including future roles for different actors in rapid energy transition
    • A new detailed set of branching point analysis in alternative pathways for the decarbonisation of heat in UK built environment
    • Project reports and academic papers

    O-STET insights and models will be provided on an open-source basis for use by stakeholders – such as the Energy Systems Catapult and its clients – and published on the UCL Energy Institute website. It is anticipated that the project will benefit the community working on energy transitions, including policy-makers, the energy industry, researchers and third-sector organisations. 


    UCL team

    University of Sussex team

    • Tim Foxon (Co-I)
    • Katherine Lovell (Research Fellow)