Governance and Sociotechnical Change in the Electricity System

Peter Hofman

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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    This paper analyses developments of the past three decades in the Dutch electricity system in the perspective of co-evolution of technological and societal development. The electricity system based on fossil-based, large-scale, technology and a relatively closed social network is changing towards a much more diverse system in terms of actors, sources and technologies. The paper explains how developments in the institutional set-up, technological base, and societal preferences and problems, underlie this process of change and provide opportunities for modulation of electricity generation and use in a climate friendly direction. The paper focuses on developments in governance which have had considerable implications for the electricity regime.
    The mode of governance based on autonomy and a natural monopoly has long been a good match the dominant design of the electricity regime: the central station electricity system. The change of mode of governance towards liberalisation creates pressure on guiding principles of the central station electricity system and gives opportunities for an increase of the diversity of actors and modes of provision within the electricity system. Examples are the emergence of decentral combined heat and power production and the emergence of green electricity that can be explained through shifting actor strategies. A coalition of diverse actors has proven to be very effective in spreading these concepts throughout the electricity system. The role of policy has been significant in this process but secondary to governance changes,
    which will be highlighted in the paper.
    On the one hand the paper interprets the theoretical relevance of this case by linking it to transition theory that aims to explain why and how regimes change and/or transform. On the other hand the paper aims to have practical relevance by providing insight how the current flux in the electricity regime provides seeds for paths towards a more sustainable electricity system.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages18
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2002
    Event10th Greening of Industry Network Conference, GIN 2002: Corporate Social Responsibility & Governance for Sustainability - Göteborg, Sweden
    Duration: 23 Jun 200226 Jun 2002
    Conference number: 10


    Conference10th Greening of Industry Network Conference, GIN 2002
    Abbreviated titleGIN


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