The application of contrast explanation to energy policy research: UK nuclear energy policy 2002-2012

Raphael J. Heffron

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper advances the application of the methodology, contrast explanation, to energy policy research. Research in energy policy is complex and often involves inter-disciplinary work, which traditional economic methodologies fail to capture. Consequently, the more encompassing methodology of contrast explanation is assessed and its use in other social science disciplines explored in brief. It is then applied to an energy policy research topic—in this case, nuclear energy policy research in the UK. Contrast explanation facilitates research into policy and decision-making processes in energy studies and offers an alternative to the traditional economic methods used in energy research. Further, contrast explanation is extended by the addition of contested and uncontested hypotheses analyses. This research focuses on the methods employed to deliver the new nuclear programme of the UK government. In order to achieve a sustainable nuclear energy policy three issues are of major importance: (1) law, policy and development; (2) public administration; and (3) project management. Further, the research identifies that policy in the area remains to be resolved, in particular at an institutional and legal level. However, contrary to the literature, in some areas, the research identifies a change of course as the UK concentrates on delivering a long-term policy for the nuclear energy sector and the overall energy sector.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)602-616
    JournalEnergy Policy
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


    • Contrast explanation
    • Contested and uncontested hypotheses analysis
    • UK nuclear energy policy


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