Resilience Thinking as an Interdisciplinary Guiding Principle for Energy System Transitions
2. Perspectives on Energy System Transitions
- are subsystems of the global socio-ecological system;
- are in interrelation to local socio-ecological systems;
- consist of different technologies that co-evolve with society; and
- their transitions can be looked at with different methods that cover parts of these aspects.
2.1. Technical-Economic Modeling
2.2. Internalization of External Costs
2.3. Sustainability Measurements
2.4. Socio-Technical System Thinking
2.5. Socio-Ecological System Thinking
2.6. Challenge of Multi-Dimensionality
3.1. Emersion and Diversification of the Concept
3.2. Relevance in Energy System Research
3.3. Engineering and Ecological Resilience
- Maintaining function in providing energy services is in the focus of our energy systems, which reminds one of stability. Slow variables changing of the larger system may not be recognized and give an appearance of stability .
- Focus on efficiency and functioning close to a fictive optimum state has decreased the adaptability of our energy systems. This results in inertia, a threshold for transformation ambitions.
- If one appraises the detection of the climate problem as a fundamental disturbance to the energy systems, a resilient system would adapt, eventually changing into a new state. Energy systems are, in most cases, static, eventually rather steering to collapse than adapting.
3.4. Dealing with Complexity
- Maintain redundancy and diversity
- Manage connectivity
- Manage slow variables and feedback
- Foster complex adaptive systems thinking
- Encourage learning
- Broaden participation
- Promote polycentric governance systems
4. Applying Resilience Thinking to Energy Systems
Maintain Redundancy and Diversity
- What are the main components (technical, social (governance, users, managers), ecological) of the system?
- Which of these should be diverse and redundant?
- Can these components perform functional redundancy, which means multiple components can perform the same function, providing the same service?
- Can they perform response diversity? If they are different in size and scale, it is more likely that they react differently to disturbances.
- Are there key components/functions with low redundancy?
- For which components does diversity contradict/decrease efficiency?
- Which kind of (technical, social, ecological) connections are important in the system?
- Does the level of connectivity of the important connections facilitate spread of disturbances?
- Does the level of connectivity facilitate recover possibilities after disturbances?
- Thus, which levels of connectivity are desired?
- Which factors increase technical connectivity, which decrease technical connectivity?
- Technical connectivity: Is the n-1 connectivity principle kept? The n-1 criteria means if one component breaks down, everything is still functioning.
- Which factors increase connectivity between actors?
Manage Slow Variables and Feedback
- Which are decisive slow variables in the system and which are the parameters changing these slow variables?
- Are slow variables of socio-ecological systems which provide service as a resource base to the energy system, steadily changed? Could this result in irreversible degradation of the respective socio-ecological system, reducing the ability of the respective system to keep providing the required service or resource in the future?
- Can the slow variables then be measured? How can they be monitored?
- Which positive and negative feedback loops exist? Do they support the original aim of the energy target scenario?
Foster Complex Adaptive Systems Thinking
- Which non-linearities exist in the energy system in transition? Are there warning signals of specified boundaries that should be seen as signals for early intervention to prevent deeper intervention?
- Which intended or non-intended side effects could appear due to the measures realized to pursuit the chosen energy system pathway? Are there critical thresholds of connected socio-ecological system that should not be overstepped?
- Which perspectives (technical, ecological, economical, social, local, national, international) are included in the scenario process, and which are not included yet?
- Is a a multitude of perspectives acknowledged?
- Which methods to expect and account for uncertainty are applied? How do these uncertainty influence the pathway measures?
- How is improvement of the technical components encouraged in in the pathway process?
- Is there room for experimentation to develop new technologies?
- Is cross-scale learning possible?
- Are there technical infrastructural decisions that have to be taken at an early stage? Is adaptation of a pathway necessary due to new findings/learning nevertheless possible?
- Is adaptive co-management realized? Adaptive management is about testing out alternative approaches, adaptive co-management additionally focuses on knowledge sharing between different actors.
- Which monitoring processes are implemented, and how do their outcomes result in adaptation of measures?
- Is local and traditional knowledge integrated in the learning process?
- Who participates?
- Are all key actors/stakeholders involved? Which governance levels, and which interest groups are involved?
- Who takes which role? What are the rules of participation? Are they clearly defined?
- Which level of participation is necessary? Is this level reached?
- Could the level of participation be reduced, saving time and resources while keeping the participation still broad enough to include all relevant actors?
Promote Polycentric Governance Systems
- Which governance levels exist? Which governing bodies?
- How are the responsibilities shared? Does the authority and responsibility distribution match each other?
- Can the different governance levels communicate? How are they linked?
- Can problems/unexpected disturbances be addressed by the right people at the right time?
Conflicts of Interest
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|Parameter||Type||State or Trend If...||..Effect on Resilience of Target Energy System|
|n-1 technical connectivity||boolean||present||increase|
|Suitability of actor communication channels||boolean||present||increase|
|Degradation of resilience of resource systems||number or boolean||high or present||decrease|
|Parameter||Type||State or Trend If...||..Effect on Pathway Resilience|
|Existence of positive feedback loops supporting the aim||boolean||present||incrase|
|Potential of the system for acquiring complexity in terms of numerosity (e.g., number of relevant actor networks)||number||high||increase|
|R&D activities in energy technology||number||high||increase|
|Monitoring in place||boolean||present||increase|
|Coverage of main indicators by monitoring||percentage||high||increase|
|Types of knowledge considered||number||high||increase|
|Methods account for uncertainty||boolean||present||increase|
|Indicator||Type||State or Trend If...||..Effect on Probability of a Resilient Outcome|
|Diversity of involved actors||number||high||increase|
|Relevant stakeholder involved||percentage||high||increase|
|Clear participation rules||boolean||present||increase|
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Wiese, F. Resilience Thinking as an Interdisciplinary Guiding Principle for Energy System Transitions. Resources 2016, 5, 30. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5040030
Wiese F. Resilience Thinking as an Interdisciplinary Guiding Principle for Energy System Transitions. Resources. 2016; 5(4):30. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5040030Chicago/Turabian Style
Wiese, Frauke. 2016. "Resilience Thinking as an Interdisciplinary Guiding Principle for Energy System Transitions" Resources 5, no. 4: 30. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5040030