In the energy sector, many new challenges have emerged over the past decade or so, while many of the already existing problems have been exacerbated, with far reaching consequences for policy-makers who are facing, as a result, considerable dilemmas. Among the most challenging issues is the fact that many core domestic, European and foreign policy objectives are difficult to reconcile with the goal of ensuring energy supply security. Hard decisions have thus to be taken by policy-makers on the extent to which these policy goals can be compromised, and which of the competing objectives should be prioritized in the search for solutions to these dilemmas.
The aim of this Section is to generate a better understanding of
(1) the different dimensions of the dilemmas that policymakers are facing (local, national, regional, European and global),
(2) how these dilemmas are being dealt with by different actors at the local, national and European level,
(3) what the trade-offs are that have to be made, and what their implications are,
(4) what the factors are that determine how the policy dilemmas are addressed at the different political levels.
Much of the existing research focuses on just one side of these energy dilemmas. With this Section we wish to bring together scholars from different research clusters within the broader realm of energy studies in order to stimulate a dialogue between them. We welcome and encourage also researchers from other disciplinary perspectives to join the debate, including, but not limited to, scholars from European and international law, sociology, (geo)economics, business, finance and management studies, ecology and climate change, resource and engineering studies.
We encourage submissions to the following 6 panels:
Panel 1 - SECURING SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SUPPLY WHILE COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE
A reduction of carbon emissions while ensuring energy supply security presents several challenges. Nuclear power and natural gas are among the most climate friendly sources of energy that can be supplied at a reasonable cost to consumers. The choice against the use of nuclear power for safety reasons and attempts to reduce the supply dependence on natural gas from Russia increases however the need for alternative sources that are more costly (renewable energy), more carbon emission intensive (coal, oil) and potentially harmful for the environment (shale gas; transport of oil). Can a reduction of carbon emissions be achieved while securing energy supply security?
Panel 2 - BALANCING ENERGY SECURITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY
The shale gas revolution is altering the power balance on the global energy market, making new sources of gas available and at the same time weakening the dominant position of traditional producer states. Fracking is however associated with considerable environmental risks. These risks associated with fracking add to the well-known risks of oil spills, significant air pollution from the use of fossil fuels as well as the damage to the environment and ecosystem by hydropower stations, off-shore wind energy parks and the environmental and safety risks that can be caused by solar panels. This raises the question if we are even in this sector faced with a mission impossible. Can environmental safety actually be guaranteed while achieving energy supply security through a balanced energy mix?
Panel 3 - ACHIEVING THE 20-20-20 OBJECTIVES IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE FINANCIAL CRISIS
Since the so-called 20-20-20 objectives were drawn up, the financial crisis and the nuclear power disaster around Fukushima as well as the rapid rise of the emerging powers in the global south have changed the conditions under which these goals have to be pursued. Negotiations to address and combat climate change continue to be difficult, and the attempts to push for an extension of carbon emissions trade to the aviation sector is being strongly resisted by the US, China and Russia. Together with the old challenge of finding effective ways of promoting a low-carbon sustainable and affordable energy supply while promoting growth and complying with liberal free market rules, this seems like a mission impossible. How are these new challenges actually affecting national governments’ ability to meet the 20-20-20 goals?
Panel 4 - LEGISLATING FOR THE PEOPLE AGAINST THE PEOPLE: ENERGY POLICY DILEMMAS
While the EU’s energy market liberalization increases tensions with producers from outside the EU, internal tensions between proponents of liberalization and advocates of a renationalization of energy companies and networks have also increased in recent years. The financial crisis has exacerbated additional challenges at the domestic level. The goal of lowering prices for consumers and making available affordable energy supplies through the breaking up of monopolies has not materialized. Recent studies have shown that the opposite has happened. Soaring energy prices have even triggered popular protests in the UK. And in Germany, the electorate has voted in some regions for buying back the energy networks that had been privatized. Why has the IEM liberalization actually reinforced the problems it sought to address? Why has it triggered such a backlash?
Panel 5 - PROMOTING EUROPEAN VALUES WHILE ENSURING ENERGY SUPPLY SECURITY
Whereas energy companies are concerned mainly about increasing their profits, European policy-makers are faced also with moral dilemmas in dealing with energy producer states under authoritarian rule, especially as corruption and rent-seeking is widespread in these states. The problems are exacerbated with the growing global competition for resources. To secure lucrative energy supply contracts, questionable human rights records, breaches against the rule of law and undemocratic practices are often tolerated. But do they have to be tolerated? Is it possible to reconcile both objectives without making unpalatable tradeoffs, and without losing out to the competition?
Panel 6 - OPENING THE MARKET WHILE CLOSING THE MARKET.
The long-standing goal of integrating and liberalising the EU’s energy market is, after two decades, still an aspiration rather than a reality. But even in its current form, the Internal Energy Market rules have been a source of conflict with third states. At the same time, by promoting the unbundling of assets and thus working against monopolies, the establishment of the EU’s Internal Energy Market has weakened the position of European actors on the global market where they are competing with strong and often even state-owned “national champions”. Can the EU’s energy market liberalization, specifically the breaking down of monopolies be reconciled with the ambition of ensuring supply security in competition for resources on the global market?