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A Collective Blueprint, Not a Crystal Ball: How Expectations and Participation Shape Long-Term Energy Scenarios

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Leonard Göke, Jens Weibezahn, Christian von Hirschhausen

In: Energy Research & Social Science 97 (2023), 102957, 11 S.


The development of energy systems is not a technocratic process but equally shaped by societal and cultural forces. Key instruments in this process are model-based scenarios describing a future energy system. Applying the concept of fictional expectations from social economics, we show how energy scenarios are tools to channel political, economic, and academic efforts into a common direction. To impact decision-making, scenarios do not have to be accurate - but credible and evoke coherent expectations in diverse stakeholders. To gain credibility, authors of scenarios engage with stakeholders and appeal to the authority of institutions or quantitative methods.From these insights on energy scenarios, we draw consequences for developing and applying planning models, the quantitative tool energy scenarios build on. Planning models should be open and accessible to facilitate stakeholder participation, avoid needlessly complex methods to minimize expert bias and aim for a large scope to be policy relevant. Rather than trying to simulate social preferences and convictions within engineering models, scenario development should pursue broad and active participation of all stakeholders, including citizens.

Keywords: Energy scenarios, planning models, fictional expectations, macro-energy systems, energy futures