An energy transition to gas? The multi-scalar reconfiguration of energy systems and the rise of natural gas

Authors: Ker-Hsuan Chien*, National Tsing Hua University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Energy, Asia
Keywords: energy transition, multi-scalar approach, natural gas, renewable energy
Session Type: Paper
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Whilst current, global efforts in energy transition have driven up renewable energy generation around the world, this growth in renewable energy is often accompanied by the understated, increased dependency on natural gas. This paper therefore re-engages transition study and the geographical focus of scale to delineate how energy transition is negotiated, translated and exercised at three scalar networks: international supply chains, national development plans, and local electrical systems. By employing the multi-scalar approach in the scrutiny of Taiwan’s energy transition, this paper contributes to the current discussion of energy transition in three ways. First, this paper points out that the increasing employment of renewable energy in a fossil-fuel based, electrical power system may not lead to the elimination of fossil fuels. Instead, this reconfiguration may lead to further dependency on particular forms of fossil fuel technologies, jeopardizing the goal of the Paris Agreement to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Second, by focusing on the existing energy system, this paper demonstrates how the current actors negotiate and adapt through the transition process. Instead of starting to decline, or being phased-out, the existing actors may also reinvent their role in energy transition. Third, by adopting the multi-scalar approach, bringing scale into the discussion of this socio-technical transition means that energy transition can thus be delineated as a negotiation process between different environmental objectives, economic incentives and generating technologies from different networks. It is conceived, interpreted and actualized by different parties in different scalar networks.

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