Workshop B1)
Smoothening the transition to smart energy systems; the role of local energy communities [afternoon session]

Hosted by TRAPESES (Transition Patterns to Smart Energy Systems)


The transition to a sustainable energy system is often depicted as a conflict between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’, a shift from one system to the next with societal tensions, inherent uncertainty and winners and losers. In this light ‘prosumers’ and local energy communities can be seen as disruptive of the common centralized energy paradigm. They challenge existing operational responsibilities, market and business models and regulatory frameworks.

A transition may however also be more gradual and smooth, integrating the ‘new’ and the ‘old’. In this case centralized energy would be flexibly combined with local and decentralized energy production and consumption, evolving naturally into a smart energy system, i.e. one that is able to accommodate both central and decentral energy production, and in this way aid the up-scaling of renewable alternatives.

The TRAPESES research project investigates the ability of actors - operating at regime, niche and landscape level - to co-create a smooth transition pattern towards smart energy systems. Central is the question how the rise of local energy communities influences the development of smart energy systems. By analyzing how synergies and conflicts emerge when top-down and bottom-up innovations meet, it hopes to avoid a conflictual process and set the stage for an inclusive transition.

This afternoon TRAPESES workshop accommodates several papers linked to the TRAPESES to provide the latest scientific insights of this project.



The following speakers will contribute to the workshop:


Destabilization of the fossil energy regime in the Port of Rotterdam – exploring the relationship between agency and regimes

Rick Bosman (Dutch Research Institute for Transitions, Erasmus University Rotterdam)

The aim of this paper is to develop a more refined understanding of regime destabilization as a precondition for transition. We build on transitions literature that conceptualizes regime destabilisation as resulting from three mutually reinforcing processes: 1) build up of external pressures; leading to 2) performance problems within the regime, resulting in 3) weakening commitment of actors (Turnheim & Geels, 2012; 2013). Our contribution lies in developing a better understanding of the role of agency in regime destabilisation. Based on existing transitions and institutional literature we distinguish between creative, maintaining and destructive institutional work of actors. Our findings based on a case study in the port of Rotterdam suggest that distinguishing these types of work are helpful to describe (changing) commitment of actors to the regime: There are actors which are predominantly engaged in maintaining the fossil resource regime, while other actors also engage in creative work towards a new more sustainable regime or destructive work, undermining elements of the incumbent regime. Understanding the ways in which actors work towards either creating new regimes, or maintaining or destruct existing ones, provides a more in depth understanding of the role of agency in transitions.


Whose smart city? Identifying different conceptions of a smart city by analyzing smart energy city initiatives in Amsterdam

Marloes Dignum (Delft University of Technology), Hiddo Huizing (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency),  Matthijs Kouw (Rathenau Institute), Martijn de Waal (Amsterdam University)

The number of cities with the ambition to become ‘smart’ is rising fast and there are ample initiatives that aim to contribute to realizing a smart city. Visions and expectations that drive smart city initiatives vary across different actors and between initiatives. These visions and expectations are diverse. Yet, there appears sufficient clarity to employ initiatives and to work towards its realization. This paper unravels different conceptions of a smart energy city. It identifies strategies and values that mobilize actors in their shaping of future smart energy cities. This provides insight in the directions in which smart energy initiatives shape current society. By revealing which values underlie current developments it provides insights in the values that will become incorporated if initiatives like these grow as the popularity of the smart cities concept may suggest. The actor perspectives provides insights in whose values are incorporated in contemporary developments. This insight is the first step in identifying the degree of inclusiveness and the identification of potential weaknesses, barriers, and possibilities of current dominant discursive shaping.


The interplay of value and values in transformative business models: the case of renewable energy initiatives

Antonia Proka, Matthijs Hisschemöller, PJ Beers, Derk Loorbach (Dutch Research Institute for Transitions, Erasmus University Rotterdam)

This paper looks into the issue of value, and the role that values play in the logic and process of transformative value creation in the context of societal transitions. As first step we present the framework developed for the study of the interplay between values and value in sustainability oriented business models. Next, drawing on renewable energy initiatives in the Netherlands, we examine how value and values are aligned (or not) in their business model, focusing more specifically in their value proposition, and further discuss how a broad orientation on value can allow us to understand how transformative business models may influence the energy transition.


The complexity of realizing local sustainable energy projects: wind energy in Maastricht

Richard van Gemert (TU Delft / driven by values)

Bioenergy, solar, water and wind power were the energy sources upon which early human societies were based, and which will have a greater share in our society in the near future as a result of climate concern. In the Netherlands, 16% of the energy consumption has to be produced from renewable energy sources by 2023. The importance of renewable power has been acknowledged by many people, however realizing the accompanying devices like wind turbines and biomass plants, encounters many objections. To describe and understand the process of developing and realizing renewable devices the development of the Sustainable Power Plant of Limburg (DECL) is used as a case study.

In this workshop, the development of a wind turbine park in Maastricht, as a part of the DECL, is elaborated on. Why did the applied approach not function? Could this be explained by the current scientific literature? And based on present literature, what are possible approaches that may function well? An agreement between public, private parties like firms or collectives and local stakeholders – a so called Public Private Social Partnership –  may significantly increase the probability to arrive at a successful project.


Smart Cities: Democracy by Design

Thijs Turèl (Liandon B.V.)

The rise of smart city initiatives is closely connected to an increasing amount of technology deployed to provide solutions for the public space and public infrastructures, as we see smart cities generally as the optimization of city infrastructure with the use of IT. The project “Democracy by Design” addresses tensions we observe from the rise of such smart city initiatives: On the one hand, the fear of IT failure, and on the other hand the risk of undermining democratic values like equality, human agency, and inclusiveness. The workshop presentation will focus on these three democratic values, outline how we believe they could be endangered by the growing dependency on technology in a smart city and cover first ideas about design principles that could form a solution to prevent undermining these values. In the project, these principles were developed for the design of platforms, data structures, and algorithms. In the presentation, we will give examples of design principles for decentralized platforms.




participants registration
 participants registration