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Sustainability 2016, 8(3), 256;

What Characterizes a System Builder? The Role of Local Energy Companies in Energy System Transformation

Department of Thematic Studies—Technology and Social Change, Linköping University, SE-581 83 Linköping, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Andrew Kusiak
Received: 21 December 2015 / Revised: 29 February 2016 / Accepted: 7 March 2016 / Published: 10 March 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Sustainability)
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This article focuses on the development of sustainable energy systems in the Swedish local context and, specifically, on the actors that have proved to be crucial for such transitions: municipally owned energy companies. With the theoretical lens inspired by LTS‘s (large technical systems), the concept of the system builder was analyzed for the purpose of further understanding what characterizes the system builder—a frequently used but seldom problematized concept. This paper originates from earlier studies based on interviews and official documents. In this article, the municipal energy company and its role throughout the processes is used to illustrate how system builders act and can influence the development of energy systems. Three examples are used to illustrate how system building has been enabled through controlling the objectives and visions of the local energy planning, through enrolling the city council, and finally through recognizing the opportunity to expand the market through the coordination of systems. In this case, the system builder was characterized by the ability to act as a collective, as one unit, despite the multitude of individuals representing the organization, by the use of skills and knowledge in different policy processes, and by the ability to recognize opportunities in combining different sociotechnical systems. The need for system builders to act on expanding as well as stagnating systems is also shown. View Full-Text
Keywords: system builder; energy system; municipality; energy company; policy processes system builder; energy system; municipality; energy company; policy processes
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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Palm, J.; Fallde, M. What Characterizes a System Builder? The Role of Local Energy Companies in Energy System Transformation. Sustainability 2016, 8, 256.

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