Advanced

Utopia renewed : transition to renewable energy in the Netherlands : a new solution, a new agent, a new pathway

Karskens, Joep LU (2016) In Master thesis series in environmental studies and sustainability science MESM02 20161
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
In the face of climate change, a fast global switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy is imperative. In the Netherlands however, prospects for such a switch are bleak. With 6% renewables its progress is lagging, and vested interests hold back change. The transition is failing.

This thesis provides an alternative, by identifying a new solution to the sluggish transition, a new agent that could realise this solution and a new pathway to do so. I propose a system of flourishing energy co-operatives as alternative solution, which I explore as ‘Real Utopia’ in three steps: whether it is desirable, viable and achievable; in which achievability calls for an agent and pathway. I answer three Research Questions: 1) Under which conditions can... (More)
In the face of climate change, a fast global switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy is imperative. In the Netherlands however, prospects for such a switch are bleak. With 6% renewables its progress is lagging, and vested interests hold back change. The transition is failing.

This thesis provides an alternative, by identifying a new solution to the sluggish transition, a new agent that could realise this solution and a new pathway to do so. I propose a system of flourishing energy co-operatives as alternative solution, which I explore as ‘Real Utopia’ in three steps: whether it is desirable, viable and achievable; in which achievability calls for an agent and pathway. I answer three Research Questions: 1) Under which conditions can the energy co-operatives be a feasible solution to the failing Dutch energy transition? 2) Under which conditions can the Dutch climate movement be the agent to shape the circumstances in which co-ops can flourish? 3) What pathways are plausible for the climate movement towards realising this solution?

Beside ‘Real Utopias’ as the overarching framework, I use social movement theory to explore the opportunities and causal mechanisms for political change available to the movement. The methods used are literature surveys of governmental and NGO reports and interviews with key figures in the Dutch climate movement.

Energy co-operatives are found to be a feasible solution to the lagging transition, but not under currently unfavourable policies. The climate movement is identified as the agent that could bring about the regulatory framework in which energy co-operatives can flourish. But thus far, co-ops remain a side topic for the movement. The climate movement perceives the issue as too technical to campaign on and they are unable to achieve success through the ‘political access mechanism’ on which they heavily depend. The movement needs a compelling narrative about energy democracy and independence from ‘inert’ large energy companies to open up new opportunities for mobilisation and increase their leverage in negotiations with politics. This new approach, combined with a set of interstitial, ruptural and symbiotic strategies, has the potential to improve the chances of overcoming the barriers to a prosperous Dutch energy transition. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Karskens, Joep LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20161
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
sustainability science, energy co-operatives, Real Utopia, energy transition, climate movement, movement strategy
publication/series
Master thesis series in environmental studies and sustainability science
report number
No 2016:016
language
English
id
8880218
date added to LUP
2016-06-21 14:29:53
date last changed
2016-06-21 14:29:53
@misc{8880218,
  abstract     = {In the face of climate change, a fast global switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy is imperative. In the Netherlands however, prospects for such a switch are bleak. With 6% renewables its progress is lagging, and vested interests hold back change. The transition is failing.

This thesis provides an alternative, by identifying a new solution to the sluggish transition, a new agent that could realise this solution and a new pathway to do so. I propose a system of flourishing energy co-operatives as alternative solution, which I explore as ‘Real Utopia’ in three steps: whether it is desirable, viable and achievable; in which achievability calls for an agent and pathway. I answer three Research Questions: 1) Under which conditions can the energy co-operatives be a feasible solution to the failing Dutch energy transition? 2) Under which conditions can the Dutch climate movement be the agent to shape the circumstances in which co-ops can flourish? 3) What pathways are plausible for the climate movement towards realising this solution?

Beside ‘Real Utopias’ as the overarching framework, I use social movement theory to explore the opportunities and causal mechanisms for political change available to the movement. The methods used are literature surveys of governmental and NGO reports and interviews with key figures in the Dutch climate movement.

Energy co-operatives are found to be a feasible solution to the lagging transition, but not under currently unfavourable policies. The climate movement is identified as the agent that could bring about the regulatory framework in which energy co-operatives can flourish. But thus far, co-ops remain a side topic for the movement. The climate movement perceives the issue as too technical to campaign on and they are unable to achieve success through the ‘political access mechanism’ on which they heavily depend. The movement needs a compelling narrative about energy democracy and independence from ‘inert’ large energy companies to open up new opportunities for mobilisation and increase their leverage in negotiations with politics. This new approach, combined with a set of interstitial, ruptural and symbiotic strategies, has the potential to improve the chances of overcoming the barriers to a prosperous Dutch energy transition.},
  author       = {Karskens, Joep},
  keyword      = {sustainability science,energy co-operatives,Real Utopia,energy transition,climate movement,movement strategy},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master thesis series in environmental studies and sustainability science},
  title        = {Utopia renewed : transition to renewable energy in the Netherlands : a new solution, a new agent, a new pathway},
  year         = {2016},
}