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Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1291; doi:10.3390/su8121291

Towards the Comprehensive Design of Energy Infrastructures

Policy and Management, Faculty of Technology, Delft University of Technology, Jaffalaan 5, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands
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Academic Editors: Michiel Heldeweg, Ellen van Bueren, Anna Butenko, Thomas Hoppe, Séverine Saintier, Victoria Daskalova and Marc A. Rosen
Received: 26 September 2016 / Revised: 1 November 2016 / Accepted: 13 November 2016 / Published: 9 December 2016
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Abstract

Energy infrastructures are increasingly perceived as complex, adaptive socio-technical systems. Their design has not kept up; it is still fragmented between an engineering and economic dimension. While economists focus on a market design that addresses potential market failures and imperfections, opportunistic behavior, and social objectives, engineers pay attention to infrastructure assets, a robust network topology, and control system design to handle flows and eventualities. These two logics may be complementary, but may also be at odds. Moreover, it is generally unclear what design choices in one dimension imply for the other. As such, we are ill-equipped to identify, interpret, and address the challenges stemming from technical innovations, e.g., the integration of renewable energy technologies, and institutional changes, e.g., liberalization or new forms of organization like cooperatives, which often have interrelated operational and market implications. In response, this paper proposes a more comprehensive design framework that bridges the engineering and economic perspectives on energy infrastructure design. To this end, it elaborates the different design perspectives and develops the means to relate design variables of both perspectives along several layers of abstraction: the form of infrastructure access of actors, the division of responsibilities among actors, and type of coordination between actors. The intention is that this way system and market design efforts can be better attuned to each other and we further our understanding and conceptualization of the interrelationship between the techno-operational and economic-institutional dimensions of energy infrastructures. The framework also aids in overseeing the broader institutional implications of technical developments (and vice versa) and stimulates awareness of lock-ins and path-dependencies in this regard. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy infrastructures; system design; market design; comprehensive institutional design energy infrastructures; system design; market design; comprehensive institutional design
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Scholten, D.; Künneke, R. Towards the Comprehensive Design of Energy Infrastructures. Sustainability 2016, 8, 1291.

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