An area-based research approach to energy transition

Jessica de Boer

    Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

    1451 Downloads (Pure)


    While at first glance energy transition is a technical and financial challenge focused on investments in innovative low carbon technologies and initiatives that increase energy saving and renewable energy production, the actual challenge of pursuing a sustainable energy system is multifaceted. To contribute to energy transition, innovative low carbon practices must be linked to communities, economies, ecosystems, infrastructure and governance systems. Initiatives using innovative practices that create and activate links with multiple systems and scales in their spatial contexts can engender co-adaptive and co- evolutionary innovation processes starting from the bottom-up. To improve our ability to interpret such transition phenomena, this thesis first develops an area-based research approach as a starting point for the study of energy transition and, second, it uses this approach to interpret the contribution of local energy initiatives to energy transition.

    The area-based research approach facilitates the identification of context-sensitive explanations for temporal transition phenomena. The approach combines perspectives from spatial planning (area-based planning) and transitions research (complex systems; multilevel perspective on innovation) into an interdisciplinary framework. This results in an innovative research method, with artefact-actor networks mapped onto graphic representations of energy landscapes. The empirical research findings demonstrate four ways in which local energy initiatives change the energy landscape and thereby contribute to energy transition. The findings of this thesis suggest that existing and emerging democratic area-based institutional structures can support the integration of innovative low carbon practices within the energy landscape and, by doing so, generate integrated energy landscapes.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • de Roo, Gert, Supervisor
    • Zuidema, Christian, Co-supervisor
    • Horlings, Ina, Assessment committee
    • Scholtens, Bert, Assessment committee
    • van Bueren, E.M. , Assessment committee, External person
    Award date12-Nov-2018
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Print ISBNs978-94-034-1213-9
    Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-1212-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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