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Resources 2016, 5(4), 30; doi:10.3390/resources5040030

Resilience Thinking as an Interdisciplinary Guiding Principle for Energy System Transitions

Interdisciplinary Institute of Environmental, Social and Human Sciences, Department of Energy and Environmental Management, Europa-Universität Flensburg, Auf dem Campus 1, Flensburg 24943, Germany
Academic Editors: Diego Iribarren and Ian Vázquez-Rowe
Received: 12 July 2016 / Revised: 21 September 2016 / Accepted: 22 September 2016 / Published: 29 September 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Analysis of Energy Systems under Sustainability Aspects)
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Abstract

Resource usage and environmental consequences of most current energy systems exceed planetary boundaries. The transition to sustainable energy systems is accompanied by a multitude of research methods, as energy systems are complex structures of technical, economical, social and ecological interactions. The description of different discipline’s perspectives in this paper show that a more mutual understanding between disciplines of their respective focus is necessary as they partly create internally competitive views arising from differing emphasis of connected matters. The purpose of this paper is to present a framework for interdisciplinary proceeding in a complex energy system transition process. Resilience thinking is chosen as a core concept for a more holistic view on sustainable energy system development. It is shown that it is already widely used in different disciplines connected to energy system research and is especially suitable due to its wide application across disciplines. The seven principles of resilience thinking (maintain redundancy and diversity, manage connectivity, manage slow variables and feedback, foster complex adaptive systems thinking, encourage learning, broaden participation, and promote polycentric governance systems) are chosen as the basis for a procedure that can be utilized to increase the interdisciplinary perspectives of energy system transitions. For energy transition processes based on scenario development, backcasting and pathway definition, resilience thinking principles are used to assess the resilience of the target energy system, the pathway resilience and the design of the scenario process with respect to the probability of a resilient outcome. The described procedure consisting of questions and parameters can be applied as a first attempt for a resilience assessment of energy transition processes. The perspective of resilience in sustainable energy systems strengthens the importance of diversity, redundancy and flexibility, which reduces the current dominant focus on efficiency of the overall system. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy system; resilience; resilience thinking; sustainability; diversity; optimization; planetary boundaries; interdisciplinary; energy transformation energy system; resilience; resilience thinking; sustainability; diversity; optimization; planetary boundaries; interdisciplinary; energy transformation
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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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Wiese, F. Resilience Thinking as an Interdisciplinary Guiding Principle for Energy System Transitions. Resources 2016, 5, 30.

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