Governing Uncertainties in Sustainable Energy Transitions—Insights from Local Heat Supply in Switzerland

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Governing Uncertainties in Sustainable Energy Transitions—Insights from Local Heat Supply in Switzerland


  • Basil Bornemann Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel
  • Stephan Schmidt Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel
  • Susanne Schubert Institute IWAR, Technische Universität Darmstadt


Abstract  The governance of sustainable energy transitions (SET) is facing multiple technological, economic, societal and political uncertainties. In practice, these energy-related uncertainties play a role not only at the level of “major politics,” but also in the policymaking of local decision makers and planners. This paper seeks to attain a more differentiated understanding of how uncertainties concerning the energy transition play out and are dealt with in policymaking and planning “on the ground.” To do so, the paper combines conceptual reflections with an explorative empirical study on local heat supply policy in Switzerland. In conceptual regards, it proposes some distinctions of types of uncertainties related to energy transitions, and a typology of strategic decision options for dealing with uncertainty. On this basis, the paper reveals similarities and differences regarding the perception of uncertainties and ways of dealing with them in a number of Swiss cities. These insights evoke further questions about the causes and effects of different sensitivities to uncertainty and ways of dealing with them.


Keywords  energy transition; governance of uncertainty; sustainability; sustainability governance; uncertainty; urban heat supply


Full Text   PDF (free download)



Views: 388 Downloads: 248


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/up.v1i3.673