Resilience Thinking as an Interdisciplinary Guiding Principle for Energy System Transitions

Frauke Wiese

    Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review

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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.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalResources
    Volume30
    Issue number5
    ISSN2079-9276
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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