Balest, Jessica (2019) Energy transition in Alpine local communities. Public response to changes towards low carbon energy systems. [Ph.D. thesis]
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Abstract (italian or english)
This research defines the public response to changes towards low carbon energy systems. The findings support regional and local energy planners in order to accelerate the energy transition in the Alpine local communities, compatibly with their resources and specificities.
Energy transition is a long-term change process of the energy system towards low carbon features (i.e., more energy production from renewable sources, higher energy efficiency). From a technological point of view, energy system is an integrated system including several energy sources, technologies, and products for energy production, distribution, and consumption. From a social point of view, local population's choices and actions determine the time and the features of energy transition at regional and local scales. Indeed, energy system is not only technology matter. Socio-energy and territorial approaches underline the importance of features and relationships between energy, society, and space.
Based on the interactions between energy, society, and space, this research delineates an analytical framework and an applied definition of socio-energy system at local and translocal scale. Through a systematic literature review of 168 scientific publications, this research defines the list of dimensions and key aspects that shape an energy system at regional and local scales by means of local population's choices. This research uses these dimensions to analyse the socio-energy systems and their variation
within a regional territory. The transformation of these dimensions into variables is the basis for the cluster analysis applied to the South Tyrol case study (Italy). This analysis defines eight different socio-energy systems within this regional territory. Each socio-energy system has its own specificities and resources to take into consideration in the energy planning for accelerating the energy transition. With the aim to propose recommendations on how to use social and territorial specificities as levers for wider achievement of energy targets at local scale, this research proposes a Decision Support Tool addressed to regional and local energy planners. The Decision Support Tool also reports potential collaborations between municipalities with similar specificities and needs in order to save, protect, and share resources for a more effective energy planning.
The collaborations proposed by the Decision Support Tool only partially coincide with the actual collaborations in the energy governance of South Tyrol. Through a Bayesian exponential random graph model, this research identifies the network structures and dynamics that are at the basis of the actual energy governance. Further, the analysis identifies some network configurations that might change the actual network towards an energy
governance that consider the local and translocal specificities.
Concluding, the methodologies used in this research are replicable to other case studies with small adjustments.
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