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  • 1.
    Bridge, Gavin
    et al.
    Durham University.
    Özkaynak, Begüm
    Boğaziçi University.
    Turhan, Ethemcan
    Philosophy and History, KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.
    Energy infrastructure and the fate of the nation: Introduction to special issue2018In: Energy Research & Social Science, ISSN 2214-6296, E-ISSN 2214-6326, Vol. 41, p. 1-11Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this article we introduce a Special Issue of Energy Research and Social Science focused on energy infrastructure and the political economy of national development. Many countries are experiencing transformational growth in energy infrastructure, such as transmission and distribution systems; import, export and storage facilities; the development of domestic energy resources; and construction of new power generating stations based on wind, water, coal, gas and nuclear sources. Large-scale projects like these are frequently justified by appeals to grand narratives – promoting economic growth, securing energy supply, modernizing energy service provision, and transitioning to more environmentally sustainable energy systems - in which the fate of the nation is closely tied to infrastructural development. The papers in this collection present compelling empirical evidence of how claims for energy infrastructure’s national significance and/or necessity intersect with the (re)production of political and economic power. Drawing on case material from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe, they highlight the capacity of different energy technologies and infrastructural assemblages to shape political and economic outcomes beyond their role in storing, transporting or transforming energy. This Introduction to the Special Issue does three things. First, it characterises the scale and significance of the contemporary ‘infrastructural moment’, observing how, in many national contexts, energy policy-making remains centralised and divorced from public participation. Second, it critically differentiates existing literature on the political economy of energy infrastructure to identify five distinctive ways in which research understands the ‘political work’ infrastructure performs. Third, it introduces the papers in the Special Issue and organises them into four key themes. Overall, the Introduction affirms the importance for social science of understanding the economically and politically constitutive power of energy infrastructures. The critical reflexivity this requires is essential to moving towards energy infrastructures that are just, equitable and sustainable.

  • 2.
    Broms, Loove
    et al.
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID. Department of Design, Interior architecture and Visual communication, Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm, Sweden.
    Wangel, Josefin
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering. Green Leap.
    Andersson, Camilla
    Green Leap.
    Sensing energy: Forming stories through speculative design artefacts2017In: Energy Research & Social Science, ISSN 2214-6296, E-ISSN 2214-6326, Vol. 31, p. 194-204Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The artificial world is part of an on-going negotiation of meaning, manifesting in social practice. From a sustainability perspective it is thus important to critically examine what norms are imprinted into the artificial, as well as to imagine, materialize and suggest artefacts that could afford more sustainable stories and practices to form. The project Sensing Energy is an attempt to explore how design could contribute to a re-imagination of everyday life and society, as well as what imaginaries (artefacts and related stories) could come out of such an endeavour. A critical and speculative design programme comprising the three leitmotifs Natureculture, Microsizing modernity, and Focal things and practices, provided a frame and foundation for a series of design experiments. The resulting artefacts were presented at two different workshops in which participants were asked to form stories that integrated one or more of the design experiments into their everyday life. Based on the material from the workshops we can conclude that the design experiments worked well as parts of or catalysts for new stories of the everyday.

  • 3.
    Darmani, Anna
    et al.
    KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Sustainability and Industrial Dynamics.
    Arvidsson, Niklas
    KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Sustainability and Industrial Dynamics.
    Hidalgo, Antonio
    Universidad Politecnica de Madrid.
    Do the strategic decisions of multinational energy companies differ in divergent market contexts?: An exploratory study2016In: Energy Research & Social Science, ISSN 2214-6296, E-ISSN 2214-6326, Vol. 11, p. 9-18Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the European energy industry, different countries’ national institutional frameworks have evolved divergently in response to increasing concerns about environmental issues. This paper explores the influence of these divergent national institutional frameworks on the strategic behavior of multinational company (MNC) subsidiaries. Differences in MNC subsidiaries’ strategic decisions in different countries, regardless of common capabilities and strategies, illustrate the importance of this influence. The paper focuses on the strategic decisions that determine which energy technology MNCs choose to acquire or invest in. MNCs are the predominant force in the European energy industry, and our understanding of their strategic decisions regarding choice of technology is an essential step in achieving a low-carbon energy industry. Our analysis is based on a longitudinal case study of Vattenfall, a Swedish multinational energy company. Findings confirm that even in the energy industry—a capital-intensive, national, and institution-based industry—MNCs follow their core global strategy to such an extent that it may prevail over local institutional considerations. Nevertheless, as European energy markets become deregulated and renewable energy matures, local institutions are likely to play a more dominant role, and MNCs will increasingly need to comply with local institutions’ guidelines. The paper offers recommendations for policymakers and several managerial implications.

  • 4.
    Hagbert, Pernilla
    et al.
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies. Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
    Bradley, Karin
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies.
    Transitions on the home front: A story of sustainable living beyond eco-efficiency2017In: Energy Research & Social Science, ISSN 2214-6296, E-ISSN 2214-6326, Vol. 31, no Supplement C, p. 240-248Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The environmental impact associated with modern ways of living is widely recognized and has been increasingly problematized. A prevailing discourse in sustainable housing tends to focus on building performance, along with compelling stories of “green” lifestyles and attractive urban housing concepts, while avoiding storylines that suggest more profound changes in society and everyday life. This paper argues that in order to address the resource-intensity of contemporary ways of living, we need to engage with perspectives of transition that go beyond technical eco-efficient solutions. Other narratives are therefore explored, based in empirical insights from home visits and in-depth interviews with people seeking less impactful and more self-sufficient ways of living in the context of an affluent society as Sweden. The paper looks at how alternative narratives are manifested in (and through) the home as a starting point for transitions to a low-impact society. Highlighting aspects of agency, situated in the everyday and in the existing built fabric, these “home front transitioners” provide another story – one that questions mainstream assumptions of a pre-defined green lifestyle, and contributes to a more diversified perspective on sustainable living.

  • 5.
    Lazarevic, David
    et al.
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Resources, Energy and Infrastructure. Finnish Environment Institute, Environmental Policy Centre, Finland.
    Valve, Helena
    Narrating expectations for the circular economy: towards a common and contested European transition2017In: Energy Research & Social Science, ISSN 2214-6296, E-ISSN 2214-6326, Vol. 31, p. 60-69Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The European Union (EU) has set its sights on becoming a circular economy, envisaging a transition that implies systemic changes in natural resource transformations and material flows; and offering a response to what is commonly labelled as the ‘take-make-dispose’ conventional economic model. What does the transition toward a circular economy entail and what can it do? This paper analyses the emergence and mobilisation of expectations that are shaping the EU transition to a circular economy. It traces the narrative elements through which the circular economy is configured through an analysis of position papers presented to inform the debate on the European Commission’s circular economy package. Expectations for the circular economy are articulated as: (1) a perfect circle of slow material flows; (2) a shift from consumer to user; (3) growth through circularity and decoupling; and (4) a solution to European renewal. Extending boundaries of what is ‘in’ benefits actors driving the circular economy as, in the short-term, they can actively support a deliberately vague, but uncontroversial, circular economy. On the one hand, the expectations present a strong sense of a collective ‘we’, on the other hand we are yet to see the contentions and contestations being full playing out

  • 6.
    Pargman, Daniel
    et al.
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID.
    Eriksson, Elina
    KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID.
    Hook, Mikael
    Tanenbaum, Joshua
    Pufal, Marcel
    Wangel, Josefin
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Strategic Sustainability Studies.
    What if there had only been half the oil?: Rewriting history to envision the consequences of peak oil2017In: Energy Research & Social Science, ISSN 2214-6296, E-ISSN 2214-6326, Vol. 31, p. 170-178Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    There is unequivocal evidence that we are facing the greatest energy transition since the dawn of the industrial age. We need to urgently shift from a global fossil fuel and CO2-emitting energy system to 1) decrease our CO2 emissions and combat the effects of climate change and 2) face a future of depleting fossil fuel resources. Yet there is still a lack of collective action to start taking effective measures to meet these challenges. We argue that there is a need for narratives in general and for a special type of narrative in particular, allohistorical scenarios, that act as thought experiments whose main function is to defamiliarize us with what is taken for granted. Such scenarios invite us to explore plausible parallel paths, thereby making it possible to imagine futures that are essentially different from the path-dependence of an unyielding historical past. Such futures enable us to grapple with a present that is saturated by the inertia of past decisions and the sunken costs of existing infrastructure. We here present the design rationale for the Coalworld scenario: an alternative world where only half the oil ever existed. We also describe the methodology and the assumptions that underlie the Coalworld scenario.

  • 7.
    Shivakumar, Abhishek
    et al.
    KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology.
    Welsch, M.
    Taliotis, Constantinos
    KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology, Energy Systems Analysis.
    Jakšić, D.
    Baričević, T.
    Howells, Mark
    KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology, Energy Systems Analysis.
    Gupta, Sunay
    KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology.
    Rogner, H.
    Valuing blackouts and lost leisure: Estimating electricity interruption costs for households across the European Union2017In: Energy Research & Social Science, ISSN 2214-6296, E-ISSN 2214-6326, Vol. 34, p. 39-48Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Security of power supply is a crucial element of energy system planning and policy. However, the value that society places on it is not clearly known. Several previous studies estimate the cost of electricity interruptions for individual European Union (EU) Member States – as the Value of Lost Load (VoLL). In this paper, we use a production-function approach to estimate the average annual VoLL for households in all twenty-eight EU Member States. This is the first time that a unified approach has been applied for a single year across the EU. VoLL is further presented on an hourly basis to better understand the impact of the time at which the interruption occurs. Finally, we analyse the impact of ‘substitutability factor’ – the proportion of household activities that are electricity-dependent – on the VoLL. Results from this study show that the differences in VoLL between EU Member States is significantly large, ranging from 3.2 €/kWh in Bulgaria to 15.8 €/kWh in the Netherlands. The annual average VoLL for the EU was calculated to be 8.7 €/kWh. Results from this study can be used to inform key areas of European energy policy and market design.

  • 8.
    Silveira, Semida
    et al.
    KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology.
    Johnson, Francis X.
    Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden.
    Navigating the transition to sustainable bioenergy in Sweden and Brazil: Lessons learned in a European and International context2016In: Energy Research & Social Science, ISSN 2214-6296, E-ISSN 2214-6326, Vol. 13, p. 180-193Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper uses a socio-technical approach to explore why the transition towards modern bioenergy has achieved success in some segments and/or countries but not in others. We reflect on the availability of initial socio-technical resources in the form of established platforms, policy motivations, and the roles of different stakeholders. We analyse how socio-technical networks evolved over time in response to enabling policies and interest groups as well as opposition groups in four different bioenergy segments: solid biomass for district heating in Sweden, charcoal for iron and steel industry in Brazil, and ethanol for transport in both countries. The Swedish and Brazilian experiences illustrate the importance of coordinating policies between local and national levels and across sectors in order to advance modern bioenergy platforms. The focus on Sweden—an EU and global bioenergy pioneer—along with Brazil—a recognised global biofuels leader—helps to illustrate the linkages to regional and global markets that are important for European energy transitions. The analysis also emphasizes the need to look beyond the energy sector, considering actors and stakeholders' interests at large, as well as broad boundaries for socio-technical regimes. Our analysis draws on the established literature concerning socio-technical transitions, innovation systems and systems approaches.

  • 9. Tenggren, Sandra
    et al.
    Wangel, Josefin
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering.
    Nilsson, Måns
    KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering. Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden.
    Nykvist, Björn
    Transmission transitions: Barriers, drivers, and institutional governance implications of Nordic transmission grid development2016In: Energy Research & Social Science, ISSN 2214-6296, E-ISSN 2214-6326, Vol. 19, p. 148-157Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Transmission grid development is key for the decarbonization of our energy systems, but has not been much addressed within the social sciences of energy studies. This paper addresses this gap and examines institutional barriers for developing the grid towards a decarbonized Nordic power system by 2050. The analysis focuses on current grid development practices from an institutional perspective to understand barriers and drivers to grid development for the case of Sweden. The results show that the transmission grid development regime is generally capable of implementing the grid investments needed to support a decarbonized Nordic power system, but that there are a few key barriers that need to be addressed. From this analysis we deduce possible governance options that could alleviate the barriers, enabling the development of the transmission grid that is needed for the Nordic power grid to become decarbonized by 2050.

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