Accepted paper:

Changing futures for gas in the Netherlands – exploring the role of the public in energy system change


Toyah Rodhouse (Delft University of Technology)
Eefje Cuppen (Delft University of Technology)
Udo Pesch (Delft University of Technology)
Aad Correljé (Delft University of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

The Dutch energy system is to be redesigned in response to public controversies regarding gas. Here, we present a conceptual framework to longitudinally explore the relationships between the evolving public debate on gas, concurrently evolving energy futures of decision-makers, and the process of redesign.

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, use and production of natural gas in the Netherlands have brought about substantial public protest (Correljé 2018; De Boer 2015; Dignum et al. 2016; Metze 2017; van der Voort and Vanclay 2015). Contrary to the past, when the public had little actual influence in the decision-making process (Correljé 2018), decision-makers nowadays are making efforts to incorporate – and are arguably even driven by - public viewpoints on gas issues. Actions taken are various and include lowering the production ceiling of the Groninger field and decoupling the built environment from the gas grid. As a consequence, the Dutch energy system is increasingly redesigned in response to public viewpoints regarding gas. In this paper, we develop a conceptual framework for understanding how system reconfigurations co-evolve with public viewpoints regarding gas. The framework explains how energy futures of decision-makers take shape (Delina and Janetos 2017), and how they concurrently interact with manifested and imagined publics (Walker et al. 2010) over time. To understand how this interaction materialises in specific energy projects, we will analyse a number of concrete real-world cases, such as a municipality’s ambition to go “off-grid”, a local project in which hydrogen is used as an alternative for gas, and a natural gas exploitation project. References Correljé, A., 2018. The Netherlands: resource management and civil society in the natural gas sector. In Public Brainpower (pp. 181-199). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham De Boer, R., 2016. Tussen hoogmoed en hysterie. Vijf jaar strijd tegen schaliegas in Nederland. Veen Media. Delina, L. and Janetos, A., 2017. Cosmopolitan, dynamic, and contested energy futures: navigating the pluralities and polarities in the energy systems of tomorrow. Energy Research & Social Science. Dignum, M., Correljé, A., Cuppen, E., Pesch, U. and Taebi, B., 2016. Contested technologies and design for values: The case of shale gas. Science and engineering Ethics, 22(4), pp.1171-1191. Metze, T., 2017. Fracking the debate: Frame shifts and boundary work in Dutch decision making on shale gas. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 19(1), pp.35-52. Van der Voort, N. and Vanclay, F., 2015. Social impacts of earthquakes caused by gas extraction in the Province of Groningen, The Netherlands. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 50, pp.1-15. Walker, G., Cass, N., Burningham, K. and Barnett, J., 2010. Renewable energy and sociotechnical change: imagined subjectivities of ‘the public’ and their implications. Environment and planning A, 42(4), pp.931-947.

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Discovery, discussion and decision
The public imagination of the future