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The future is flexible? Exploring expert visions of energy system decarbonisation

Groves, Christopher ORCID:, Henwood, Karen ORCID:, Pidgeon, Nicholas ORCID:, Cherry, Catherine ORCID:, Roberts, Erin ORCID:, Shirani, Fiona and Thomas, Gareth ORCID: 2021. The future is flexible? Exploring expert visions of energy system decarbonisation. Futures 130 , 102753. 10.1016/j.futures.2021.102753

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Decarbonising the energy system means moving from a centralised, fossil fuel-dependent one to one based primarily on renewable energy. Visions of whole system change focus on socio-technical concepts like electrification and flexibility, rather than single technologies such as nuclear or solar. The role that technological niches might play in relation to such systemic socio-technical visions is under-researched. Traditionally, technological niches are thought to nurture new ‘proto-regimes’, supported by coherent visions of how technologies will help solve problems within existing socio-technical regimes. However, the relationship between socio-technical visions like flexibility and individual demonstrator projects is more complex. Interviews with experts from the FLEXIS energy systems project (south Wales, UK) show how future visions associated with a range of demonstrator projects are being developed against the backdrop of a system-level vision of a flexible, multi-vector energy system. Interview data also shows how the development of visions for demonstrators draws on social learning about place and societal values overlooked in systemic visions. Such social learning can incorporate critical reflection on key assumptions that underlie dominant system-level visions. The extent such learning is possible through the development of potential niches, however, is subject to limitations that invite further research.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0016-3287
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 April 2021
Date of Acceptance: 21 April 2021
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 05:05

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