A Framework for the Governance of Socio-Technical Transitions in Urban Energy Infrastructures


In this paper, a conceptual framework is proposed to analyze the dynamics of techno-institutional lock-in preventing urban energy infrastructures to change and the way a governance approach can affect these dynamics and direct urban energy transitions. In this respect, the framework hypothesizes that the relative power of different rationalities in urban energy infrastructure as a complex socio-technical system shapes its system inertia against transition effort. It is composed of the feedback dynamics between social, technological, economic and political dimensions of existing institutions, as well as the way a systemic governance approach can affect these dynamics of system inertia and shape transition pathways. As depicted by providing examples from different cases of urban energy transitions, affecting part of this power structure is not sufficient for a successful transition, and may even have counterintuitive effects in long term. Based on the insights from this conceptualization, methodological guidelines are presented for modeling these power rationalities in the form of feedback structures causing system level inertia, and based in these guidelines, further research for modeling techno-institutional lock-in, designing governance scenarios as well as evaluating the impact of these scenarios are discussed. Conceptualization of system inertia and the governance of energy transitions in urban energy infrastructures has practical applications to evaluate current low-carbon and energy transition efforts as well as different energy and climate change policies by urban authorities and other relevant actors aiming to contribute to urban energy transitions.

Author Information
Amin Dehdarian, Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne, Switzerland
Matthias Finger, Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne, Switzerland

Paper Information
Conference: ECSEE2015
Stream: Energy: Renewable Energy and Environmental Solutions

This paper is part of the ECSEE2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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