The Missing Link: Bringing Institutions and Politics into Energy Future Studies

Futures, Vol 43, No 10, 2011, pp. 1117-1128

Energy future studies can be a useful tool for learning about how to induce and manage technical, economic and policy change related to energy supply and use. However, in public policy, most energy future studies remain disconnected from policy making. One reason is that they often ignore the key political and institutional factors that underpin much of the anticipated, wished-for or otherwise explored energy systems developments. This paper examines how analytical insights into political and institutional dynamics can enhance energy future studies. It develops an approach that combines systems-technical change scenarios with political and institutional analysis. Using teh example of a backcasting study dealing with the long term low-carbon transformation of a national energy system, it applies two levels of institutional and political analysis; at the level of international regimes and at the level of sectoral policy, and examines how futures systems changes and policy paths are conditioned by institutional change processes.



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