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Energy transition

Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and clean energyThe transition to innovative sustainable energy solutions is technology and society driven. The environmental impact and the economy of current energy sources are seen as key challenges for human progress. Issues like shale gas exploration, geo-political tensions surrounding oil in polar areas, or money flowing towards political instable regimes all point to the need for change.
Changing the energy system is not restricted to developing and replacing technology. It is rather depend on a combination of using and replacing multiple energy technologies, social and institutional rules, entrepreneurship and public policies. A new energy system matches current economic routines and habits in society poorly. Behavioral, organizational or governance drivers for change are critical for spurring transitional change in energy systems. Changing economic (and political) actors’ perspectives, developing new organizational models and designing innovative governance models are considered necessary for change. We seek to explore, understand and design innovative design and implementation models, innovative business cases that work, better policies, and better public debates about energy transition.
CSTM is currently involved in multiple research projects that contribute to new ideas on governance models to spur smart and sustainable energy transition. This manifests in research projects on Smart Grids, Bioenergy, Smart Regions and Cities, Energy and Regulations, Energy and Gender, and Climate Change Mitigation Policy. In its research activities CSTM actively collaborates with international, national and regional partners from both the public and private sectors.

Current projects

  • COMPLEX: Knowledge based climate mitigation systems for a low carbon economy realizing regional climate policy

    Current models of climate change and carbon emission assume the immediate past is a reasonable guide to the future. They struggle to represent the complex causal structures and time-asymmetries of many socio-natural systems. COMPLEX will integrate the quasi-classic models of meso-scale processes with our best understanding of fine-grained space-time patterns and the system-flips that are likely to occur in the long interval between now and 2050. It is believed the sub-national region is the key point of entry for studying climate change and its cause-effect interrelations. It is small enough to be sensitive to local factors, large enough to interact with supra-national agencies and stable enough to be historically and culturally distinctive. In addition to undertaking case studies in Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Spain and Italy, we will develop a suite of modelling tools and decision-support systems to inform national and supra-national policy and support communities across Europe working to make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

  • Optimizing renewable energy development for a sustainable rural electrification

    This PhD project, in collaboration with the university of UNPAD, Bandung, Indonesia, analyses the effectivity of rural electrification programs in Indonesia with a special focus on the Bogor Regency in West Java. In the electrification program, remote areas get access to electricity by means of stand-alone technology (hydro, PV or bio). The PhD project analyses the conditions for success and failure of the stand-alone projects from a sustainability and institutional perspective.

  • Gender and Energy Research Programme

    The Gender and Energy Research Programme is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and established and led by the ENERGIA the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy to provide the evidence base for improving energy investment effectiveness by understanding and better addressing women’s specific needs for modern energy services through empirical research. The evidence aims to inform global energy initiatives including SE4All, the international initiative, led by the United Nations, to end energy poverty by scaling up energy access to achieve universal energy access to sustainable, modern energy services by 2030.

    The Gender and Energy Research Programme is one of the three components of the DFID Sustainable Energy, Access and Gender (SEAG) programme. The other two components of SEAG are: expansion of renewable energy resources mapping programme (by the World Bank’s ESMAP) and responding to emerging SE4All knowledge priorities as this initiative expands.

    Within the research programme, empirical evidence on the links between gender, energy and poverty, will be gathered and analysed, and translated into guidance and recommendations for energy policy and practice by governments, the private sector and the NGO /CSO community. The programme entails research, evidence gathering and dissemination, and raising public awareness on the importance of energy access for women and girls. The starting point for the research programme are five priority themes for research on the gender dimensions of priority areas in the energy sector: electrification through grid and decentralised systems; productive uses of energy; the political economy of energy sector dynamics; energy sector reform; and the role of the private sector in scaling up energy access. Further, commissioned research will address key gaps in evidence.

    Prof. dr. Joy Clancy is the Principal Investigator of the Gender and Energy Research Programme

    The main programme website can be reached here.

  • Productive Uses of Energy in the Informal Food Sector: Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa

    Energy for productive uses was identified as one of five key research areas in the DFID funded ENERGIA Gender and Energy Research programme. As a result of a successful proposal for this theme, CSTM is leading a consortium with partners conducting research in three African countries. This four-year project started in 2015 and will conclude at the end of 2018.

    In addition to the basic energy needs of cooking and heating for domestic purposes, energy is required for a range of income generating and productive uses. This research focuses on male and female owned micro enterprises in the Informal Food Sector. A reason for choosing to focus on this sector is to provide a gender focus as this is a sector where many women make their livelihoods in urban areas in the global south.

    The primary goal of the project is to influence energy policy making and implementation in the focus countries. The research also aims to explore from a gender perspective the changes that may be brought by access and use of Modern Energy Services (MESs) within male and female owned micro enterprises in the Informal Food Sector. It also aims to track the link between households and enterprise energy use and how this impacts on the gender relations as well as its effects on women’s empowerment.

    A video produced to show the use of different energy sources by the street food sector and the importance of this sector in income generation. Download video here

    Dr. Nthabi Mohlakoana is the researcher and project coordinator of the Productive Uses of Energy project and Prof. dr. Hans Bressers is the Project Leader.

    The project website can be reached here

  • The Institutional Sources of Energy Transitions: From the Oil Crises to Climate Policy

    Why are some governments more effective in promoting economic change? We develop a theory of the institutional sources of economic transformation. Domestic institutions condition the ability of policymakers to impose costs on consumers and producers. We argue that institutions can enable transformation through two central mechanisms: insulation and compensation. The institutional sources of transformation vary across policy types—whether policies impose costs primarily on consumers (demand-side policies) or on producers (supply-side policies). Proportional electoral rules and strong welfare states facilitate demand-side policies, whereas autonomous bureaucracies and corporatist interest intermediation facilitate supply-side policies. We test our theory by leveraging the 1973 oil crisis, an exogenous shock that compelled policymakers to simultaneously pursue transformational change across OECD countries. Panel analysis, case studies, and discourse network analysis support our hypotheses. The findings offer important lessons for contemporary climate change policy and low-carbon transitions.

    More information

    The Comparative Politics of Climate Change Policy
    Presentation (video): Institutional Sources of Economic Transformation Energy Policy from the Oil Crises to Climate Change


Selection of past projects

  • Research project on policy model applied by the municipality of Lochem

    Goals: to create insights into the design and implementation of an innovative local policy model – aimed at empowering civil society - as implemented by the Dutch municipality of Lochem. Project leader: Thomas Hoppe. Period: 2013-2014. Status: finalized.

  • Route ‘14 Smart grids

    Goal: To spur multi- and cross disciplinary research at the University of Twente on the topic of Smart Grids.

    Collaboration between CTIT and IGS. Project leader: Maarten Arentsen. Researchers: Sandra Bellekom and Thomas Hoppe. Period: 2012-2013. Status: finalized.

  • Mainstreaming Gender in Energy Sector Practice and Policy: Lessons from the ENERGIA International Network, 2015-2016

    As part of the Gender and Energy Research Programme the ENERGIA International Secretariat (IS) commissioned research by a small team with the objective of bringing together lessons learned from gender approaches by ENERGIA and other organisations (in particular the World Bank’s Africa Renewable Energy and Access Program (AFREA) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB)). The ultimate aim is to increase ENERGIA’s effectiveness, enhance ENERGIA’s role in setting the stage for other organisations and to inform policy development and practice about successful gender mainstreaming approaches. The network has for more than twenty years been building a substantial body of experience with approaches to gender mainstreaming in the energy sector so is in a key position to inform others including other researchers in the research programme.

    In this context, the ENERGIA IS commissioned Joy Clancy, together with Dr Nthabi Mohlakoana (from CSTM), Yacine Diagne Gueye (Senegal), Lydia Muchiri (Kenya) and Indira Shakya (Nepal) to review the lessons learnt from gender mainstreaming in energy programmes and projects and in energy policies and to make recommendations to improve the effectiveness where necessary.

    The work started in 2015 and was completed in 2016. Only activities between 2005 and 2011 were reviewed, which covers Phases 3 and 4 of ENERGIA’s programme of activities during which there was an evolution in terms of focus and approaches. In Phase 3 ENERGIA’s methodology for gender audits was developed. The year 2011 marked the end of ENERGIA’s Phase 4 programme which concentrated on mainstreaming gender in energy projects. It was considered that a period of three years should allow sufficient time for outcomes and impacts to have realised and be identified as well as for reflection by those interviewed as key informants to be meaningful.

    The study concluded that there is a body of evidence to show that gender mainstreaming as conducted by ENERGIA in Phases 3 and 4 has generated benefits for a range of stakeholders from the grassroots through organisations active in the energy sector (government, utilities and NGOs) to the policy level. ENERGIA’s approaches to gender mainstreaming in programmes and projects have been tested in a variety of contexts with a range of energy technologies and can be considered to work well if measured by the response of informants interviewed. When assessing experiences with mainstreaming gender in energy policy the study focused on gender audits as a tool to identify and analyse the factors that hinder efforts to make energy policy gender aware. The evidence shows that in the main gender audits work – to a point and not always in the ways that had been initially envisaged.

    A copy of the full report, together with the executive summary can be found at: