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Trust and the transformation of energy systems


  • Rayner, Steve


The author looks at diverse concepts and roles of trust in the challenge of decarbonising energy systems, drawing on 25 years of personal experience in the fields of energy and environmental policy research. The paper focuses on three issues-public trust in science, institutional trust in making technology choices, and the idea that high-trust societies are more sustainable than those exhibiting low-trust. While trust is a key concept in understanding the public acceptability of technology choices, it is only one of a suite of interrelated concepts that must be addressed, which also includes liability, consent, and fairness. Furthermore, rational distrust among competing institutional world views may be critical in understanding the role of social capital in socioeconomic and technological development. Thus the concept of trust has become a portmanteau, carrying a diverse range of ideas and conditions for sustainable energy systems. The paper concludes with three emphases for decision makers. First, the issue is the energy system, not particular generating technologies. Second, the energy system must be recognized to be as much a social system as it is a technical one. Third, the system requires incorporation of the minimum level of diversity of engineering technologies and social actors to be sustainable.

Suggested Citation

  • Rayner, Steve, 2010. "Trust and the transformation of energy systems," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 2617-2623, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:6:p:2617-2623

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Parisio, Lucia & Bosco, Bruno, 2003. "Market Power and the Power Market: Multi-unit Bidding and (In)Efficiency in Electricity Auctions," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 10(4), pages 377-401, August.
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    4. Olsina, Fernando & Roscher, Mark & Larisson, Carlos & Garces, Francisco, 2007. "Short-term optimal wind power generation capacity in liberalized electricity markets," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 1257-1273, February.
    5. Klemperer, Paul D & Meyer, Margaret A, 1989. "Supply Function Equilibria in Oligopoly under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1243-1277, November.
    6. Paul Simshauser, 2006. "The Emergence of Structural Faults on the Supply Side in Deregulated 'Energy Only' Electricity Markets," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 39(2), pages 130-146, June.
    7. Lamont, Alan D., 2008. "Assessing the long-term system value of intermittent electric generation technologies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 1208-1231, May.
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    1. repec:eee:enepol:v:110:y:2017:i:c:p:404-409 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Laes, Erik & Meskens, Gaston & van der Sluijs, Jeroen P., 2011. "On the contribution of external cost calculations to energy system governance: The case of a potential large-scale nuclear accident," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 5664-5673, September.
    3. Schmid, Eva & Knopf, Brigitte, 2012. "Ambitious mitigation scenarios for Germany: A participatory approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 662-672.
    4. Adams, Michelle & Wheeler, David & Woolston, Genna, 2011. "A participatory approach to sustainable energy strategy development in a carbon-intensive jurisdiction: The case of Nova Scotia," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 2550-2559, May.
    5. repec:eee:enepol:v:110:y:2017:i:c:p:570-580 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Müller, Matthias Otto & Stämpfli, Adrian & Dold, Ursula & Hammer, Thomas, 2011. "Energy autarky: A conceptual framework for sustainable regional development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 5800-5810, October.
    7. repec:eee:enepol:v:109:y:2017:i:c:p:10-21 is not listed on IDEAS

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