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The role of the regime in energy system transformation: A case of the Arctic
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Sustainability and Industrial Dynamics. (Sustainability and Industrial Dynamics)
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The study investigates the role of regime in the global energy system transformation towards sustainability within the context of ongoing extensive exploitation of conventional oil and natural gas resources illustrated by the case of the Arctic. The study design and methodology are inspired by a multi-level perspective (MLP) framework initially developed to describe the change processes (transformation and transition) in large technological systems (LTS). The Arctic case is investigated through a ‘salient – reverse salient’ approach also originating from the LTS analysis. The study is based on empirical data collected through two rounds of interviews supplemented by triangulation from literature sources. The analysis shows that the exploitation is ongoing, independently from global sustainability goals and strong landscape pressures. A lack of alignment between the different levels of the global energy system is observed, where not all the landscape pressures are penetrating equally down to the regime level. Regime salients dominate over other factors. Importantly, the study shows that there is a high degree of acknowledgment by the actors of inertia and dependency within the oil & gas industry. The study concludes that a deeper focus on the capacities and qualities of the regime can facilitate sustainability transitions. This paper suggests a more systematic view of transition studies, theoretical and methodological pluralism via combined frameworks, and enriches discussion through the investigation of a case from the rarely studied Arctic. Further, this study questions the validity of neglect of the oil & gas industry from the global energy system transformation process, and suggests ‘unlocking’ the regime through greater attention to its inertia and momentum, therefore revising the sustainability transitions’ theoretical frameworks and approaches.

Keywords [en]
energy, change, large socio-technical systems, oil, natural gas, Arctic
National Category
Energy Systems Environmental Management
Research subject
Industrial Economics and Management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-269116OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-269116DiVA, id: diva2:1411699
Note

this is a working paper

Available from: 2020-03-04 Created: 2020-03-04 Last updated: 2020-03-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The global energy system through a prism of change: The oil & gas industry and the case of the Arctic
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The global energy system through a prism of change: The oil & gas industry and the case of the Arctic
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The energy industry as a whole and the oil & gas industry in particular is experiencing changes under the influence of a variety of trends and the changing needs of society. Current social, economic, environmental and climate challenges are raising sharp questions for the established principles of energy production and consumption, increasingly arguing for sustainable trajectories in the development of the global energy system. There are significant international efforts to improve energy sustainability, and powerful trends are being established. However, the change in the global energy system is happening at a slower pace.

The oil & gas industry has been a substantial part of the global energy system for decades. While it has significantly contributed to global development and enabled industrialization, it has also affected the environment. Currently, the role of the oil & gas industry is shifting, while it continues to satisfy more than half of global energy demand. Simultaneously, the relationship between the oil & gas industry and the sustainable development of the global energy system is largely overlooked. This thesis questions the validity of such neglect, and raises the importance of exploring sustainable development of the global energy system with its relationship to the oil & gas industry.

Through the perspectives of sustainability transitions and industrial dynamics domains, this thesis aims to explore the role of the ‘socio-technical regime’ in sustainability transitions of socio-technical systems. This thesis focuses on three particular aspects: (1) the factors of change in the regime; (2) the way the regime responds to these factors of change; and (3) the relationship between the sustainable development of the socio-technical system and the regime. This thesis is based on two interrelated studies, devoted to certain aspects of change within the oil & gas industry, and an in-depth investigation of the case of Arctic offshore oil and natural gas resources exploitation.

The thesis provides an insight into the critical aspects of change within the global energy system through analysis of the oil & gas industry, and reveals an understanding of how sustainable change in the global energy system can be facilitated. From a theoretical perspective, this thesis contributes to sustainable energy transitions and industrial dynamics literature on sustainable change of large socio-technical systems with an emphasis on the regime. Theoretical implications underline the need to revise the existing links and connections between socio-technical system levels in order to facilitate change, show the need for typologies of factors of change, and suggest more attention to qualities and capacities of regimes. Finally, this thesis employs system thinking and a multidisciplinary approach in energy related and sustainability transitions research.

From a practical perspective, this thesis provides analytical frameworks, tools and concepts to be useful for policy makers, strategy consultants, governmental organizations, and industry, as well as suggests some insights into the development and change in the global energy system.

Abstract [sv]

Energibranschen som helhet, och olje- och gasindustrin i synnerhet, upplever förändringar under påverkan av olika trender och samhällets förändrade behov. Nuvarande sociala, ekonomiska, miljömässiga och klimatrelaterade debatter utmanar de etablerade principerna för energiproduktion och konsumtion genom att argumentera för hållbarhet i utvecklingen av det globala energisystemet. Det finns betydande internationella ansträngningar för förbättrad hållbarhet, men förändringen i det globala energisystemet sker i långsam takt.

Olje- och gasindustrin har varit en väsentlig del av det globala energisystemet i årtionden. Även om den har bidragit märkbart till den globala utvecklingen och möjliggjort industrialiseringen, har den också påverkat miljön. För närvarande förändras olje- och gasindustrins roll medan den fortsätter att möta mer än hälften av det globala energibehovet. Samtidigt förbises förhållandet mellan olje- och gasindustrin och en hållbar utveckling av det globala energisystemet till stor del. Denna avhandling ifrågasätter giltigheten av sådan försummelse och belyser vikten av att utforska en hållbar utveckling av det globala energisystemet med dess relation till olje- och gasindustrin.

Genom perspektiven hållbarhetsövergångar och industriell dynamik syftar avhandlingen till att undersöka ‘socio-tekniska regimens’ roll i hållbarhets omvandling av socio-tekniska system. Avhandlingen fokuserar på tre särskilda aspekter: (1) faktorerna för förändring i regimen; (2) hur regimen svarar på dessa förändringsfaktorer; och (3) förhållandet mellan en hållbar utveckling av det socio-tekniska systemet och regimen. Avhandlingen är baserad på två sammanhängande studier, ägnade åt vissa aspekter av förändringar inom olje- och gasindustrin, och en djupgående undersökning av fallet med utnyttjande av olje- och naturgasresurser under den arktiska havsbotten.

Avhandlingen ger en inblick i de kritiska aspekterna av förändringar inom det globala energisystemet genom analys av olje- och gasindustrin och avslöjar en förståelse för hur hållbar förändring i det globala energisystemet kan underlättas. Ur ett teoretiskt perspektiv bidrar avhandlingen till hållbara energi och industriell dynamik om hållbar förändring av stora socio-tekniska system med tonvikt på regimen. Teoretiska implikationer understryker behovet av att revidera de befintliga länkarna och kopplingarna mellan socio-tekniska systemnivåer för att underlätta förändringar, visa behovet av typologier för förändringsfaktorer och föreslå mer uppmärksamhet till regimens kvaliteter och kapacitet. Slutligen använder avhandlingen systemtänkande och en tvärvetenskaplig strategi inom energirelaterad och hållbarhetsövergångs forskning.

Från ett praktiskt perspektiv tillhandahåller avhandlingen analytiska ramverk, verktyg och koncept som kan användas av beslutsfattare, strategikonsulter, statliga organisationer och industri, samt insikt i utvecklingen och förändringen i det globala energisystemet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm, Sweden: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2020. p. 104
Series
TRITA-ITM-AVL ; 2020:7
Keywords
global energy system; energy industry; oil & gas industry; Arctic offshore; change; transformation; sustainable energy transition; industrial dynamics; multi-level perspective; development blocks, globalt energisystem; energibranschen; olje- och gasindustrin; Arctic offshore; förändring; omvandling; hållbar energiövergång; industriell dynamik; flernivå perspektiv; utvecklingsblock
National Category
Energy Systems Environmental Management Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Industrial Economics and Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-269117 (URN)978-91-7873-476-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-03-27, https://kth-se.zoom.us/meeting/register/v50vdeqrpjotNkbVQO7BZMQnzDMCEozhbQ, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Due to Corona it is not possible to attend this defense in person, instead attend via this link:

https://kth-se.zoom.us/meeting/register/v50vdeqrpjotNkbVQO7BZMQnzDMCEozhbQ 

Available from: 2020-03-06 Created: 2020-03-04 Last updated: 2020-03-26Bibliographically approved

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