Accepted Paper:

Scenarios of energy transition: Expertise, political power, and contested futures in the German energy debate  


Stefan Aykut (Université Paris-Est)

Paper long abstract:

This intervention analyzes energy scenarios in West German expertise as sociotechnical objects contributing to define boundaries between scientific and political questions (Gieryn, 1995, Jasanoff, 1987) and policy instruments (Lascoumes et Le Galès, 2005) structuring energy policy and its underlying actor-coalitions. We follow the emergence of transition scenarios (Energiewendeszenarien) in German energy discourse in the 1980s, and their claim to discursive hegemony since 1998. Initially based on abandonment of nuclear energy and its replacement by energy savings and decentralized renewables, transition scenarios themselves changed in the process of institutionalization, losing some of their more radical implications. By retracing this history, we aim at showing that scenarios, despite their origin in technocratic and planning circles, can lead to a pluralization of visions of energy futures. We also show that such phenomena are closely tied to the general social and political context. The communication will discuss these subjects through in-depth analysis of two aspects: 1) the making of relevant scenarios in research institutes and parliamentary committees, and 2) the role, function and circulation of scenarios. The practices of scenario-making will be elucidated through ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with actors. The discursive role and trajectory of scenarios will be investigated through discourse analysis (newspapers and parliamentary debates).

Panel L4
Energy controversies and technology conflicts