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Cultural factors of sustainable energy development: A case study of geothermal energy in Iceland and Japan

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  • Shortall, Ruth
  • Kharrazi, Ali

Abstract

Energy is important for sustainable development, yet multidimensional challenges exist for policy makers in transformations to sustainable energy systems. Sustainable development is generally recognised as having a three-lens approach: development must balance impacts in the economic, environmental and cultural dimensions. While cultural themes such as governance, motivation, and social values are widely acknowledged in the literature as critical for transformations to sustainability, however, research on these themes has been scant. Culture influences many aspects of society; hence it is important to consider culture when developing policies for sustainable development. Understanding national cultures can lead to greater understanding of what shapes national policy and strategies for transformations to sustainable energy systems. Understanding cultural influences on policy can help other countries to overcome similar challenges in policy making, planning or local resource management. Comparisons between countries serve to further advance the understanding of approaches to such challenges. This paper examines transformations towards sustainable energy through the lens of culture, through a case study of geothermal development in Iceland and Japan. Using Hoftsede's cultural theory framework, we highlight cultural variables relevant to sustainability transformations, with particular emphasis on the challenges of the management of geothermal energy resources, and the management of related conflicts and public participation. We present our findings garnered from interviews with key players in the energy industry in both countries reinforced by an extensive literature review. We find that culture clearly influences the approach to geothermal energy development in both countries and we identify benefits and disadvantages to approaches on overlapping issues and challenges in both countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Shortall, Ruth & Kharrazi, Ali, 2017. "Cultural factors of sustainable energy development: A case study of geothermal energy in Iceland and Japan," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 101-109.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:101-109
    DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2017.05.029
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    References listed on IDEAS

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