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RCN funding for project analyzing energy industry contractions

Jessica Jewell's project "Analyzing past and future energy industry contractions: Towards a better understanding of the flip-side of energy transitions" recently received funding through the Research Council of Norway's Programme of Climate Research (KLIMAFORSK). The project will run from 2017-2020.

Jessica Jewell
Jessica Jewell, Research Scholar at IIASA and Associate Professor II at Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation

Meeting the 2°C climate target requires a massive transformation of energy systems involving both the growth of "new" technologies (e.g. wind power) and phase-out of "old" ones (e.g. use of coal). But closing down energy industries is a painful socio-political process that can lead to job losses, economic difficulties, and political tensions. Even in Germany, with its ambitious climate strategies, attempts to close coal mines are facing public protests. However, much more scientific effort has gone into researching the expansion of new energy technologies than the phase-out of "old" ones.

Closing the research gap

This project closes this research gap by identifying and quantifying historical cases of energy industry contractions as well as their socio-political preconditions and implications. How frequently and under what conditions do energy industries contract? What types of policies make energy industry contractions less painful? We will also quantify contraction rates in future energy scenarios, including those under climate policies. How do these projected rates of contraction compare to historical precedents? Is the required contraction realistic? How can it be made less painful?

The project brings together the newly-founded Centre for Climate and Energy Transformations at the University of Bergen and the Energy Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria), an internationally leading interdisciplinary group working on energy transitions.

Together with Jessica Jewell, who is the manager of the project, Endre Tvinnereim from Uni Research will be a senior researcher in the project, and Vadim Vinichenko will be a Post-doc. The primary objective of the project is to analyse the rates, the driving forces and the actual or potential implications of contraction of energy industries both historically and in long-term climate stabilization scenarios in order to contribute to understanding the socio-political challenges associated with energy technology changes required to meet the 2ºC target.

Researcher from IIASA at CET

Jessica Jewell is a Research Scholar at IIASA (Energy Program) where she works on energy security, nuclear energy and the political economy of energy transitions. She is also Associate Professor II at the University of Bergen, connected to the Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET). 

She is particularly interested in understanding the political implications of and institutional preconditions for sustainable energy transitions. At IIASA, her research focuses on incorporating insights on the institutional constraints and drivers of energy policies into energy modeling. She has published on energy security under decarbonization scenarios, nuclear energy prospects and global energy governance in journals such as Energy Policy, Climatic Change and Nature Climate Change as well as popular-press pieces on the politics of energy in the Economist and other outlets.