Why Policy and Governance at SINTEF Energy Research?
Technology and economy represent essential prerequisites for the promotion of more sustainable solutions. But even the best solutions will remain on the drawing board without a better understanding of non-technical factors! Political expediency, combined with shifting social priorities, can all too easily sideline optimal techno-economic proposals.
It is therefore important for those involved in the realization of energy and climate change-policy targets to understand the overall terms of reference and the political realities which decision makers in the public and private sectors will encounter at different stages during the process. The process is dynamic, but it is within this fluctuating political environment that specific concepts are developed. There is no shortage of different proposals linked to new technical innovations, and fresh investments in production capacity, distribution systems and new consumer technology. But numerous promising and prioritized solutions nonetheless fail to be implemented!
If we are to achieve designated energy and climate-change policy targets, we must promote a more robust acceptance of the need to implement the necessary changes. As members of society, we all have the opportunity to influence this development through democratic participation in elections and consultation processes. However, much relevant material never enters the consultation arena! The research team on policy and governance will work to ensure that relevant non-technical aspects of energy and climate-change are highlighted in order to achieve strategic social goals.
The relevance of non-technical issues can be illustrated by means of a model which was developed by William M. Lafferty and Audun Ruud in the book Promoting Sustainable Electricity in Europe. The book was written to better understand the implementation of the EU's 2001 Renewable Electricity Directive at national level. The Directive has now been replaced by the extended Renewables Directive of 2009, which Norway will adopt. The point of departure for the model was a need to improve the dominant ‘techno-market model’ currently popular in EU-sponsered research. As the figure demonstrates, this is accomplished by directly integrating ‘contextual variables’ as vital conditions for the effectiveness of the techno-market model.