Socio-energy systems design: A policy framework for energy transitions

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197 Scopus citations


In the context of large-scale energy transitions, current approaches to energy policy have become too narrowly constrained around problems of electrons, fuel, and carbon, the technologies that provide them, and the cost of those technologies. Energy systems are deeply enmeshed in broad patterns of social, economic, and political life and organization, and significant changes to energy systems increasingly are accompanied by social, economic, and political shifts. Energy policy is therefore, in practice, a problem of socio-energy system design. In this article, we offer a definition of socio-energy systems, reconceptualize key questions in energy policy in terms of socio-energy systems change, analyze three case studies of energy policy development as problems of socio-energy systems design, and develop recommendations for rethinking energy policy and governance in the context of socio-energy systems transitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - Mar 2015


  • Design
  • Governance
  • Society
  • Socio-energy system
  • Transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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