Four scenarios for urban energy coordination: large companies, local authorities, state intervention and cooperative actors

Abstract : Pressed by the urgent need to mitigate climate change, renewable energy sources are already replacing fossil fuels. Temporary drops in the spot price of electricity now occur in Europe when peak solar and wind output coincides with slack demand. Management of intermittent energy sources and energy storage are consequently crucial issues for the medium term. Two possible routes are of particular importance: on the one hand, funding of generating capacity – via a market instrument yet to be devised – to cover only periods of peak demand and intermittent supply; on the other temporary demand-side management of end-users. These two routes have been studied in detail by energy actors and encouraged by public-sector sponsorship of research. But they have so far made no allowance for local authorities, resident groups and intermediate bodies, despite the fact that they are playing an increasingly important part in deploying renewables and achieving greater energy efficiency. Being more complex than commercial transactions, the relations between the various actors have given rise to sharply divergent analysis by different disciplines. The socio-technical approach – a current of thought in the social sciences – has largely demonstrated the links between technology and society: the effect of institutional regulation on energy governance (Poupeau, 2013) and the deployment of technical systems (Berkhout et al, 2004; Geels and Schot, 2007); the organization of large technical networks and its subsequent dependence paths (Coutard, 2002); the enmeshing of town planning and networks (Dupuy et al, 2008; Rutherford and Coutard, 2014). Our purpose is not to discuss their findings, simply to illustrate the various forms of interdependency between the political, urban, organizational and technological dimensions of energy in a manner accessible to decision-makers and the general public. To achieve this, we propose four scenarios for coordinating energy in an urban environment between now and 2040. The scenarios are based on research carried out as part of the Ecoquartier Nexus Energie project, funded by Ademe and involving a dozen Grenoble researchers specializing in planning, economics, sociology, management and technology. We present here the broad lines of the Ecoquartier Nexus Energie research action and the method used to script and summarize the four scenarios, centring on four pivotal actors: - Large companies, supplying urban energy systems; - Local authorities, steering territorial planning; - The State, acting as the central power framing rules and regulations; and - Cooperative actors, collectives seeking to regain control over housing and energy.
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SDEWES 2015, Sep 2015, Dubrovnik, Croatia. pp.1-15, Proceedings of the 10th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems. 〈http://www.dubrovnik2015.sdewes.org/〉
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Nicolas Buclet, Gilles Debizet, Fabrice Forest, Caroline Gauthier, Stéphane La Branche, et al.. Four scenarios for urban energy coordination: large companies, local authorities, state intervention and cooperative actors. SDEWES 2015, Sep 2015, Dubrovnik, Croatia. pp.1-15, Proceedings of the 10th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems. 〈http://www.dubrovnik2015.sdewes.org/〉. 〈hal-01273648〉

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