Accepted Paper:

Societal conflicts and the strategic governance of energy transitions  


Basil Bornemann (Sustainability Research)
Thomas Saretzki (Leuphana University Lueneburg)

Paper long abstract:

Issues like climate change and the accident in Fukushima, changes in the geo-strategic, economic and technological landscape as well as new political ideas such as sustainable development have set the energy systems of many countries in motion. In society and politics, these dynamics have fostered the emergence of new and old conflicts around energy technologies that challenge the effectiveness and legitimacy of governance regimes.

While some countries face these dynamics in terms of rather incremental business as usual approaches, other countries have undertaken efforts to set up encompassing energy transition strategies to foster comprehensive transformations of their energy systems towards more sustainable ones. These strategies tend to be debated and analyzed in terms of their effectiveness, whereas their interplay with societal conflicts remains conceptually and empirically underexplored.

With our paper we strive to shed some more light on the relationship between energy related controversies and political approaches to a strategic governance of energy transitions. What role do controversies and conflicts around new and old energy technologies play in strategically governed energy transitions? And how are these conflicts taken into account by comprehensive energy strategies?

To address these questions, we first propose some conceptual ideas for combining conflict analysis with the analysis of strategic governance. Secondly, we illustrate our conceptual considerations by interpreting the role of energy-related conflicts in the strategically governed energy transition in Germany. Finally, we sketch some prospects and limitations of a more integrated analytical perspective on the relationship between conflicts and the strategic governance of energy transitions.

Panel L4
Energy controversies and technology conflicts