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Energy Transition and Transformation. The World, the European Union and Poland
Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań
ROSICKI Remigiusz (2019), Energy Transition and Transformation. The World, the European Union and Poland, AMU: Poznań.
The main aim of this publication is to expose the reader to basic problems and directions of research into processes and changes in energy structures and technologies. The present work is primarily an overview with regard to a presentation of theoretical aspects of technology and energy paradigms as well as theoretical aspects of energy transitions and transformations. The reference materials that have been gathered and written up, and which concern the research problem have been supplemented with the author’s own conclusions and evaluations. The theoretical issues have been supplemented with two case studies concerned with a transformation of coal paradigms. In the former case an analysis is performed of the transformation of coal paradigm in the world and member states of the European Union, while in the latter case the analysis focuses on the transformation of coal paradigm in Poland. In both cases a long historical perspective has been adopted so as to demonstrate the main points of energy substitution or a lack thereof. The presentation of theoretical issues, which encompasses such categories as a “paradigm,” a “transition” and a “transformation” is intended to demonstrate a logical sequence between T.S. Kuhn’s concept of science, evolutionary economics, J.A. Schumpeter’s innovation studies, innovation studies within the neo-Schumpeterian trend and variants of social study of technology. The acceptance of a possibility of change of technology and energy paradigms results in referring to analyses addressing the issues concerned with energy transitions and transformations. It must be pointed out that in the source literature various terms are used to define processes and changes in the energy industry, e.g. a transition, a transformation and a revolution. Sometimes use of a specific term is made because of a methodological and theoretical position taken or because of ideological inclinations; at other times a choice of a given term is made for instrumental reasons. An intentional distinction of kinds of processes and changes can be exemplified with the typology put forward by F.G. Geels and J. Schot. It considers a reproduction, a technological substitution, a transformation, a reconfiguration and a shift with a return to stability. In a narrow sense, processes and changes in the energy industry usually come down to the issues concerned with the substitution of carriers or energy technologies, while broader approaches allow for a role of a great many factors in the processes and changes, e.g. cultural, social, institutional and political ones; also, a variety of effects of substitutions is pointed to. It is well-nigh impossible to present in the introduction all the researchers whose works have contributed to the study of processes and changes in energy structures and technologies. One part of this work makes a synthesis of the main research directions. For this purpose, use is made of earlier research papers, which have been supplemented with the author’s own conclusions. Still, it is worth naming such figures as R. Fouquet, A. Grübler, C. Marchetti, N. Nakićenović, P.J.G. Pearson, V. Smil and B.K. Sovacool. With regard to the contribution to the synthesis of the studies of processes and changes in the energy industry, it is worth mentioning the following texts: Energy transitions research: Insights and cautionary tales by A. Grübler, How long will it take? Conceptualizing the temporal dynamics of energy transitions by B.K. Sovacool, and Integrating techno-economic, socio-technical and political perspectives on national energy transitions: A meta-theoretical framework by A. Cherp, V. Vinichenko, J. Jewell, E. Brutschin, B.K. Sovacool. As for the significance of quantitative research with regard to turning points and pace of energy substitutions, it is worth mentioning a joint publication by N. Nakićenović and C. Marchetti entitled The Dynamics of Energy Systems and the Logistic Substitution Model, and another joint publication by N. Nakićenović and A. Grübler entitled The Dynamic Evolution of Methane Technologies. With regard to the contribution to the analyses considering further-reaching historical perspectives, and with regard to in-depth research into the services of end-use of lighting, transport and energy supply, it is worth mentioning texts by R. Fouquet and P.J.G. Pearson, e.g. Five Centuries of Energy Prices and Seven Centuries of Energy Services: The Price and Use of Light in the United Kingdom (1300–2000). With regard to the contribution to the synthetic approach to energy structure transformations in Europe in a further-reaching historical perspective, it is worth mentioning a publication edited by A. Kander, P. Malanima and P. Warde entitled Power to the People: Energy in Europe over the Last Five Centuries. Last but not least, it is worth mentioning V. Smil, whose works are most comprehensive and include synthetic approaches to changes in energy structures in longer time-frames and analyses of turning points and pace of energy substitutions. V. Smil is also an author of many publications which aim to introduce the reader to the subject of energy and energy technologies.
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