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Accepted Paper:

Visions of interconnectedness or disconnectedness- tracing emerging social tension and coalitions in the transition towards new electricity systems  
Kristina Hojckova (Chalmers University of Technology) Björn Sandén (Chalmers university of technology)

Paper short abstract:

The electricity system is in transition, but whereto? To global or regional super grids or to self-sufficient disconnected prosumers? This paper aims to identify tensions and new coalitions that emerge among actors in efforts to support the transition in a certain direction.

Paper long abstract:

The conventional electricity system built around central utilities is facing ever growing problems of aging grid infrastructure and plants, fossil fuel dependency and environmental impact. At the same time, rapid innovation and massive deployment of renewable electricity production and storage enable a transition to, not only a more sustainable electricity system, but also more distributed generation. Such a system can, however, be designed in different ways with varying levels of interconnectedness, from global or continental super grids via regional and national grids to self-sufficient off-grid communities and households of electricity prosumers. At this point the eventual system design is not a given.

Based on our understanding of the electricity system as a socio-technical system we see this path-selection as a process emerging out of complex interaction between heterogeneous components including numerous actor constellations, technical artifacts and institutions. The aim of this paper is to identify the growing tensions but also new coalitions that emerge among actors and stakeholders in efforts to support the transition in a certain direction. In order to trace new forms of interaction we map the structural system components of new electricity systems that are growing in niches inside the old one. More specifically, we trace novel technical building blocks, scientific knowledge, articulated visions and experimental laws and regulations and how these are supported or contested by various actors groups.

Panel T046
New Technologies, social practices and social conflict - sustainable energy transitions as a field of contention
  Session 1 Saturday 3 September, 2016, -