Social Acceptance of Renewable Energy and the Energy Transition

  • Senni Maatta (Presenter)
  • Alida Volkmer (Contributor)
  • Cristian Pons-Seres De Brauwer (Presenter)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Social acceptance of renewable energy and the energy transition
Dialogue Session

This session is organised by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) early stage researchers of the MISTRAL Innovative Training Network . MISTRAL is a Horizon2020-funded project which focuses on the social acceptance of renewable energy technologies and broader energy transition pathways.

In light of the increasing impact of human-induced climate change, low-carbon energy transitions will require, among other measures, the deployment of increasing amounts of renewable power capacity at an accelerated pace. The foreseen pace of capacity additions is, however, facing increasing challenges in the form of, for example, reduced social acceptance from local, market, public and policy/regulatory fronts. This increased social contestation risks slowing down the speed at which low-carbon transition pathways need to occur.
The sources of such social acceptance challenges illustrate the dynamic interactions between power, agency, and politics unfolding along socio-technical transition pathways towards carbon neutrality. In this dialogue session, the three panelists will approach these interactions from different perspectives.

Cristian Pons-seres de Brauwer will address the policy regime shift in Denmark’s and Germany’s energy transitions, as enacted by their renewable energy (RE) support scheme substitution from administratively-set feed-in-tariffs (FiTs) to competition-driven auctions. The cost-efficiency rationale employed by policymakers to justify this shift (whereby increasingly costly retail electricity reduces public support for clean energy alternatives, and thus risks contesting the deployment of RE capacity) is scrutinised as a means to unfold the power asymmetries and diffusion of agency stemming from an unbalanced appropriation of benefits between incumbent developers and smaller, citizen-driven newcomers. The results presented will outline the insufficiency of historic electricity price increases to trigger substantial changes in household electricity consumption, indicating untapped margins for electricity price increases within socially-acceptable boundaries without risking reduced public support for RE.

Senni Määttä will address how a realist governmentality approach can be adapted to the study of social acceptance of renewable energy and the subtle power dynamics in energy transitions. She will discuss how by analysing these power dynamics through different perspectives and stakeholders, can highlight how various strategies, problematizations and rationalities interplay with each other. Understanding this interplay and how different stakeholders in the field are interacting and influencing each other is key to understanding policy implementation, resistance and how to move from declarations to actions in energy transitions.
Period18 Aug 2020
Event title11th International Sustainability Transitions Conference
Event typeConference