UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

Prof Jim Watson

Prof Jim Watson

Professor of Energy Policy

Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
15th Jun 2018

Research summary

Energy policy and energy systems
  • Leadership of major research programmes on the UK energy transition including the UK Energy Research Centre (2013 - 2019)
  • Expertise on energy policy, energy system change and energy security
Innovation systems for clean energy
  • Innovation policies in the UK and other countries
  • Economic and policy research on specific low carbon technologies and systems, including carbon capture and storage and decentralised energy technologies
Energy and development
  • Leadership of research on low carbon transitions and innovation in developing countries
  • Energy futures and policies in China

Teaching summary

Current PhD students:

  • Lobna Ahmed on modelling urban sustainability
  • Carolina Campos on indicators for biodiversity
  • Irene Maffini on finance and low carbon innovation (UKERC studentship)
  • Giulia Ragosa on the political economy of electricity market reform and renewables integration
  • Asha Singh on energy transitions in Nepal

Completed PhD students:

  • Anna Watson (2021) 'Accelerating Low Carbon Innovation: National Institutions and Effective Organisation Design'
  • Emily Cox (2017) 'Assessing energy security in a low-carbon context. The case of electricity in the UK'
  • Jonathan Dolley (2016) 'Sustainability, resilience and governance of an urban food system: a case study of peri-urban Wuhan'
  • Tammy-Ann Sharp (2014) 'Exploring the potential impacts of Carbon, Capture and Storages Technologies on the Diversity of the UK electricity system to 2050'
  • Jose Opazo (2014): 'The politics of systems innovation for emerging technologies: understanding the uptake of off-grid renewable electricity in rural Chile'
  • Jenny Lieu (2013): 'Influences of policy learning, transfer and post transfer learning in the development of China’s wind power sector'
  • Dierk Bauknecht (2011): 'Transforming the Grid: Electricity system governance and network integration of distributed generation'
  • Mehdi Majidpour (2011): 'The Dynamics of Technological Catching-up: The Case of Iran’s Gas Turbine Industry'
  • Rudi Haum (2011): 'Transfer of Low-Carbon Technology under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: The Case of the Global Environment Facility and its Market Transformation Approach in India'
  • Zeeda Fatimah Mohamad (2009): 'The role of universities in national catching-up strategies: fuel cell technology in Malaysia and Singapore'


I am Professor of Energy Policy and Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources; and Research Director of the FCDO Climate Compatible Growth programme

I am also an Associate Faculty at SPRU, University of Sussex where I worked from 1993-2018. From Dec 2008 to Jan 2013, I was Director of SPRU's Sussex Energy Group. I was also Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre from Feb 2013, and was its Director from January 2015 until December 2019. 

I am a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences; a member of the Executive Committee of the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement; and a judge for the Queens Awards for Enterprise: Sustainable Development. In November 2020, I was appointed to chair the Technical Advisory Group to the World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP).

I have over twenty years of research experience on climate change, energy and innovation policy. I have been a specialist adviser to three Parliamentary committees: the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee on energy security; the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on climate change (including the draft Climate Change Bill); and the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on the resilience of electricity infrastructure.

Previous advisory roles include expert lead with Climate Assembly UK: the UK's national citizen's assembly on climate change (2019-20); DECC and Defra's social science expert panel (2012-16); Council Member of the British Institute for Energy Economics (2004-16); Nuffield Council on Bioethics working party on new approaches to biofuels (2009-11); Lead Expert with the UK government Foresight project on Sustainable Energy Management and the Built Environment (2007-2009); and the IPPR New Era Economics panel (2010-12).

International roles include: Panel Member, Academy of Sciences of South Africa consensus study on Green Technologies in South Africa (2012-14); and Visiting Scholar, Energy Technology Innovation Policy group, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (2008).