Energy transition management: Collective action and blind pilotage
i3-CRG, Ecole Polytechnique, CNRS UMR 9217, France
Transitions are characterized by a rather clear outlook of the state leaved and the final state desired, but no clear vision of the process and social dynamics at stake. Transition is a collective action process in which the State is an important element, but probably not the driver.
Energy transition is a multi-actor process (Geels 2010) and a collective game in which the state is an important element (Meadowcroft 2009; Droste et al. 2016; Johnstone et Newell 2018), but probably not the driver anymore. Transition requires navigational strategies of intervention (Jørgensen 2012) and negotiation between the different players (Verbong et Geels 2010) defining an innovative legal framework, which has furthermore become “outsourced” (Westerman 2018) over the last few years This phenomenon raises issues of governance, and the more restricted mode of cooperation called “heterarchy”, applying well to decentred, context-mediated inter-systemic steering (Crumley 1995; Jessop 1998; Stark 2009). It involves the steering of multiple heterogeneous actors, autonomous but mutually interdependent, producing distributed intelligence (Girard et Stark 2002). Furthermore, outsourcing the law leads to the development of accounting devices and management instruments (Berry 1983), highlighting their mediating role in the construction of an industry (Miller et O’Leary 2007).
Literature on management instruments focuses on their effect, but steering the energy transition requires an understanding of the politics underlying the design of instrument mixes. Moreover, the understudied non-hierarchical organizations could provide interesting insights.
How can collective actors manage energy transition and steer the industry towards still undefined goals? How can management instruments be defined and combined in the context of energy transition and outsourcing of law?
The research is based on a qualitative case study of the renewable energies industry in France, focusing on a collective actor: the Trade Association for Renewable Energy. The French case is particularly interesting because of the importance of nuclear in the electricity production, which has long blocked the development of renewable energy. The approach is comprehensive, highlighting and analyzing the strategies carried out by the actors, especially collective actors (government, interest groups, trade associations, NGOs).
The empirical material is for now constituted of 12 non-directive interviews, conducted with all the former presidents of the industry’s trade association in France, as well as with permanent staff members of this trade association and civil servants at the Ministry of Energy. This material is completed with secondary data from specialized press and website content, methodically collected and analyzed to outline the boundaries of this particular industry, the different actors and their relationships.
Our case shows the role of steering instruments like white papers, roadmaps or programming laws in the French energy policy. They stem from a dialog between the State and firms through a trade association supporting the collective interests of the renewable energy industry. We highlight the disequilibrium between the State – represented by high civil servants at the Ministry, who lack from a field experience, and the industry – represented by its trade association and benefiting from the expertise of its managers. Expertise comes either from their extensive experience in engineering and technical knowledge, or in lobbying for other industries (constituting a network towards high officials in public authorities). Furthermore, the members of the trade association differ in size, status or activity. Therefore, achieving a consensual agreement is a slow process, because trade-offs must be found at two levels: first, between firms in the industry, within the frame of the trade association; and then between the industry and the public authorities.
This leads to “blind pilotage” of the French energy transition. A key success factor of the steering of energy policies lies thus in an interactive process of unambiguous definition of instruments and indicators, articulating the individual and collective levels.
Contribution to Scholarship
We reveal the collective dynamics underlying the energy transition. Drawing on Wetserman’s metaphor of governance as a boat, we show that the collective steering of energy transition actually consists in “blind pilotage”. We argue that the governance of energy transition is heterarchic, because of the diversity of actors (especially collective ones) involved, the slowness of the consensus, and the need for a constant maintenance of the dialog to conduct a sustainable transition.
The lack of identified landmarks of both the industry and its development goals makes the steering of public policies difficult and outlines the indetermination of the management instruments’ goals, which is problematic in such a complex situation. Despite a strong scientific basis, instruments result from negotiations and trade-offs between individual, collective, public and private actors, often leading to a shaky bargain where steering is complicated.
Contribution to Practice
We raise managers’ concern on the role they can play in the energy transition, especially at the collective level, as field experts providing practical insights to the public authorities in the design of policy instruments and helping the steering of public policies.
Our study is also relevant for public authorities at the local, national, as well as the international level, concerned with energy transition management and the instruments to implement it. Our results could for example also apply to the negotiations on climate, which require strong arguments from the IPCC, but it always leads to fuzzy non-binding objectives.
Dealing with the articulation of individual and collective strategies, the governance and knowledge sharing among public and private actors, and the process of construction and monitoring of policies to achieve the energy transition, this paper fits with R&D Management Conference’s track on Sustainable development and transitions.
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Smart City District as a Living Lab Platform in Sustainability Transition: Nutrient Recycling in Hiedanranta, Finland
Tampere University, Finland
Research explores the innovation activities (e.g. nutrient recycling, vertical farming) in a district that has been considered as a living lab. It also focuses on the urban governance and interactions between public and private actors in the creation process of a smart neighborhood, which involves residents, businesses and communities.
There is an urgent need for sustainable living and urban governance as natural resources are being deteriorated gradually as a result of excessive production/consumption, which threatens our health and well-being (Bifulco et al., 2016). The shift to renewable energy from fossil fuels already began in all parts of the world aiming decarbonisation, and living labs are one of the ways to support that movement (Voytenko et al., 2016). Newly built urban areas present opportunities to apply innovative infrastructure, test and validate assumptions, conduct longitudinal research studies, and co-create innovations while engaging various stakeholders (Juujärvi and Pesso, 2013). In this context, sustainability can be seen as a tool in the smartization process of a district while utilizing information and communication technologies (Caragliu et al., 2011). Smart cities are seen as environments of open and user-driven innovation (Schaffer et al., 2011), which draws attention to living labs within the ecosystems.
Previous research has acknowledged that particular activities contribute to sustainability transition in smart cities (Bifulco et al., 2016, Bulkeley et al., 2016). These studies, however, have not provided an empirical analysis of the relevance of nutrient recycling along urban management and sustainability in terms of maximization of resource utilization.
What are the activities of regional innovation ecosystem actors towards creating a sustainable district? (Stakeholder perspective)
What are the motives and goals of municipalities on creating a living lab setting towards creating a sustainable district? (Governance perspective)
How recycling practices in a regional innovation ecosystem create value? (Technology developer perspective)
The research questions are approached with qualitative analysis. We here in this study direct our focus on a single case to examine the actor contributions to urban governance, nutrient recycling and sustainability practices that promote low carbon transitions in cities. The case features qualitative interviews and ethnographic research, as study participants’ activities are observed in their real-life environment. Hiedanranta district in Finland is chosen as the case, as it provides a distinctive base to study various stakeholders involved in an innovation ecosystem such as a governmental authority, an expert organization, private firms, users and a research institute.
Primary source of data generation is qualitative interviews which were conducted with managers of the ecosystem firms, city development managers from a municipality, project managers from an association that contributes to nutrient recycling in the region, and with researchers who focus on nutrient recycling. The names for the interviews have been gathered from the website of the municipality where all the related ongoing development projects in Hiedanranta area were listed. The interviewees were selected based on their contribution to the nutrient recycling and development of the area, and their project management responsibilities. Eight people were interviewed in semi-structured form and all the interviews were recorded and transcribed. All interviews were carried out through face-to-face meetings. The interview questions aim to develop the knowledge on role and goal of the living labs in circular economy, on sharing practices among actors, and on innovation policies that support the emergence of collaborative innovation in cities. In addition to interviews, extensive secondary data is utilized, which mainly consists of academic journal articles, news articles about the developments in the city district that have been published online and releases of the ecosystem companies. Mapping and triangulation were employed for the cross verification of the data.
Activities of the actors in a regional innovation ecosystem towards creating a sustainable district are: producing fertilizers by rapid composting of organic waste; producing heating energy for the local district heat grid from the pyrolysis process; biochar production in pyrolysis facility for its use in e.g. composting and soil improvement; growing fruits and vegetables using vertical farming in a climate controlled hydroponics facility that incorporates water recycling systems; and treatment of sedimented fibers from Lake Näsijärvi that received effluents from a pulp mill from 1910s to 1980s.
The motives and goals of the municipality on creating a living lab environment are: engaging citizens and businesses in order to turn the city district into a livable setting; building required facilities for the ease of daily life; and getting feedback for possible improvements from all the stakeholders involved, as living labs employ open innovation mindset and provide opportunity for ideation and sharing.
Recycling practices that take place in a regional ecosystem create value by reducing the environmental impact of the materials that are used in production activities, enabling the experimentation of emission-free mobility, reducing the operational expenses, and reducing the waste amounts generated by processing new raw materials.
Contribution to Scholarship
Our study provides a hands-on approach to smart city management and living lab literature by examining the activities of a regional innovation ecosystem’s contributing actors. It demonstrates the value of sharing by-products from production activities and adding nutrients back into the cycle in a smart district setting as a sustainable way of urban resource management. It introduces ways to utilize the resources in a smart city district that aims to apply sustainable urban management methods contributing to circular economy. It takes into account the stakeholder, governance, and technology developer perspectives and introduces a new smart city district and an enabler-driven living lab to the researchers who are interested in developing the knowledge in this area. The framework we developed that depicts nutrient recycling and resource utilization in smart city district provides a clear picture on resource flows for evaluating the integration of similar structures in other districts.
Contribution to Practice
Our study showed that municipalities can benefit from supporting small and medium sized enterprises that are involved in the innovation ecosystems. Solutions and technologies of these firms would create value in the society by triggering the transition to cleaner applications and practicing recycling nutrients. When facilitating the sustainability transition, municipalities can also play a role to raise public awareness on the positive effects of sustainable consumption habits and lifestyles such as sharing, the advantages of using renewable energy and the disadvantages of applying practices that depletes resources. Awareness can be created using media channels by publishing public service announcements.
As Hiedanranta is described as smart and sustainable future neighborhood in Tampere with its piloting platform for new technologies and methods aiming transition to lifestyles that depends on renewable energy, exploring the interactions between the public and private ecosystem actors offers fruitful discussions in relevance to sustainable development/transitions track.
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Juujärvi, S., Pesso, K., 2013. Actor Roles in an Urban Living Lab: What can we learn from Suurpelto, Finland? Technol. Innov. Manag. Rev. 3, 22–27.
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The interdisciplinary of renewable energy research : Bibliometric analysis
1Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Korea, Republic of (South Korea); 2Graduate School of Energy and Environment (KU-KIST Green School), Korea University
In this study, we will focus on the interdisciplinary research that takes place in the field of renewable energy research. The field of renewable energy aims to solve social problems such as climate change, which is expected to handle wide range of discipline.
Recently, there has been an increasing amount of discourse on interdisciplinary research. Since there are various definitions of interdisciplinary research, indices for determining convergence have been developed and used. By the mid-2000s, the Stirling Index (2006) was developed to overcome the limitations of being dominant in the Shannon index (1949), and Herfindhal index (1950), but not being able to grasp the distance between each species in a group. Recently, a study was conducted to correlate interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary research results using the Stirling index (Alan & Rafols, 2009; Alfredo Yegros & Rafols, 2015; Jian & Bart, 2015)
Recent studies using the Stirling index show that the disparity is still not reflected properly, given that most of them deal with convergence within natural sciences. Therefore, an analysis of interdisciplinary research involving natural science and social science is required
Are interdisciplinary research increasing in renewable energy field?
Are interdisciplinary studies in the field of renewable energy cited more frequently?
This paper applies bibliometric method to analyze the scientific publications of interdisciplinary research in renewable energy. To solve the first question, we answer the question Are interdisciplinary research increasing in renewable energy field?' To see if interdisciplinary research is getting active, we compared annual proportion of interdisciplinary research to renewable energy and social science. To solve the second question, we compared the number of citations for the papers of interdisciplinary research and non-interdisciplinary research in renewable energy sector and the social sciences.
This research is based on the databases of Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) and Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) of 1980 to 2018. For the research keyword, renewable energy, Interdisciplinary is used. As a keyword of interdisciplinary there were 41,403 research were obtained. According to the results of the search for renewable energy keywords, 103,838 papers were available, among them, we sorted the research by interdisciplinary research with social science fields, so 928 papers were obtained after searching the interdisciplinary as a keyword. The total citation of the result was 24,774 and the h-index was 73. The most productive subject was Energy & Fuels (465 records) and the most productive country was USA (277 records). WILEY INTERDISCIPLINARY REVIEWS ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT was the most productive journal with 105 records.
The study had found out that, in comparison to solve the first question, interdisciplinary research accounted for a greater share of the total in the renewable energy field than in the sum of the whole other areas of study. Further, it was found that the annual increase in interdisciplinary research was far higher than other studies in the renewable energy field. Thus it was confirmed that interdisciplinary studies in the field of renewable energy, were taking place actively.
For the second question we compared the number of citations from interdisciplinary research within the renewable energy sector and from non-interdisciplinary research. As a result, we could see that not only the number of citations but also the number of JCR papers was high. In other words, it was found that interdisciplinary research with the social sciences led to the achievements of research.
Contribution to Scholarship
This study will present following academic implications: First of all, a bibliography analysis of interdisciplinary research in the renewable energy field will help us understand current trends of both interdisciplinary and renewable energy research. Second, as the basic data for promoting interdisciplinary research, we can expand to areas for solving environmental problems, including alternative energy, sustainability and climate change, to study the convergence of areas that solve social problems. Third, it can be a stepping stone to examine the relationship between interdisciplinarity and performance of interdisciplinary research in renewable energy. Finally, since we have confirmed the results of interdisciplinary research in renewable energy, we will be able to analyze the factors to activate them.
Contribution to Practice
This study will be the basic data for reviewing the need for future interdisciplinary research in the renewable energy sector and discussing the importance of interdisciplinary research in policy-making. This study will also help to establish a proper policy of convergence research by looking at whether interdisciplinary research actually achieves results, not just inter-agency or international cooperation.
Through analysis on academic paper, which is the result of innovation, the research reveals that the current direction of innovation is moving toward solving the international agenda of climate change. In particular, in this paper, the transition for sustainable development was analyzed by addressing renewable energy as the subject.
Richard Van Noorden, INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH BY THE NUMBERS, Nature news feature,16 September 2015.
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