What is your research focusing on?
My research explores the energy cultures and the agents’ behaviour emerging out of stakeholders interactions in the Energy Systems in Transition Project. An example of the areas I cover can be seen in figure 1 below.
Figure 1. Overview of topics being researched in my thesis.
Energy cultures refers to patterns of norms, values, practices and material cultures. In turn, agents behaviour depends on internal factors like cognitive and psychological trails, as well as on external influences, like the culture in which agents are immersed. I examine, from a socio-technical perspective, how such humans and non-humans actants bring “things” to matter (materialities). One of such “things” can be the energy system innovations related to the decarbonisation of the energy sector in the North Sea Region. Actants may induce actions to deal with anthropogenic climate change, having consequences for societies (changing our lifestyle, e.g. how we use energy, what kind of jobs will exist in the future). The underlying dynamics are influenced by the actor’s network of interactions that produce, for example, science facts or policy recommendations. I analyse such actor networks with insights from contemporary philosophy theories like Actor-Network Theory (ANT), Science Technology and Society Studies (STS), Social Constructivism and Materialism.
What has motivated you to do this research?
I come from Brazil, a country that experiences first-hand the direct impacts of worldwide production and consumption of fuel-based energy. Therefore, I wonder about the motivations and barriers underlying the multi-level decision making in the energy sector that favours using fossil fuels, notwithstanding their social impact.
I am intrigued by how certain things are unnoticed while others come to matter and are considered urgent by energy experts. As subtle as this process is, it shapes innovations, knowledge, inequalities, regulations and laws following the world representatives’ views. This sometimes requires citizens to blindly trust the experts leading the transition. These experts are behind the engineering and technical developments driving efforts and investments to decarbonise; my research tries to unravel the expert´s drivers in this process to make it more transparent.
I also enjoy studying cultures, this connects my environmental engineering background with the world´s need for an international alignment of the strategies to cope with climate change while creating social welfare. Participating in the Energy Systems in Transition project (ENSYSTRA), I directly contribute to transforming the energy research culture to better align the energy transition through a holistic and socio-technical perspective. Those are my main drivers for researching this topic.
By Jaqueline de Godoy – email: email@example.com
What has amazed you in your research so far?
A few mentions:
- The trace of trust as a social phenomenon amused me while analysing the Scandinavian culture, due to its correlation and causalities with society’s development. Trust appears to be at the core of the Scandinavian economy, its corporate strategies and its businesspersons. It is a reflection of society’s demand for transparent governance and corporations. Trust favours cooperation between citizens and institutions. It contributes to the development of environmental projects, the existence of a deliberative state, and the implementation of sustainable and social responsibility practices in corporations.
- I explored trust concerning the digitalisation of the energy sector and the district heating system. Digitalisation is spreading to the energy sector, requiring citizens to trust institutions that collect and analyse people’s data, and people are vigilant due to increasing surveillance capitalism practices. Trust concerning district heating seems to be the reason for the success of such systems in Scandinavia compared to other European countries. The phenomena of trust works as a tool that citizens have to indicate their approval (or not) of institutional actions.
- Regarding energy education, I was amazed by how interdisciplinary knowledge in climate change and energy transitions projects is a requirement to deal with the complexity of real-world problems. Because this builds bridges between generalised concepts and causalities. In practice, small steps are being taken towards consolidating interdisciplinary energy research. Systemic changes in this direction include allocating funding to interdisciplinary research (like the ENSYSTRA project), universities encouraging structural changes and cooperation between departments, as well as changes towards a more transparent publication system (like the Open Research Europe (ORE)).
How will your secondments benefit your research?
My 11 months of secondments were divided into academic and non-academic partners. The Norwegian power company Lysa AS was my industrial partner. There, I was immersed in the innovation department to understand the ethical dilemmas that employees face to innovate towards decreasing CO2 emissions, their perceptions of the environment, and their presence and interaction with external actors like community members and projects.
Academic internships were part of the endeavour of understanding energy cultures, disciplinary technical thinking and the production of knowledge for the energy transition. I did short placements (3 weeks to 1 month) at the Universities of Groningen and of Gothenburg and longer placements (3 to 6 months) at the Department of Energy and Petroleum of the University of Stavanger and at the Institute for Educational Research and Pedagogue Education at the University of Graz.
Those experiences and interactions expand my view on the complexity of the energy transition, they enrich my perspectives of the agents (academic and non-academic) that are immersed in different socio-technical contexts. Altogether favouring my constant effort to adjust my own biases as an early-stage researcher.
How would you like to continue your research after the ENSYSTRA project?
I would like to apply the knowledge learned in the ENSYSTRA Project as a researcher in an academic institution, industry or governmental body. My open attitude about the following step in my professional career is due to the formation provided by the Marie Curie Training Network that funds the ENSYSTRA Project. Its structure aims to form professionals that transcend the research skills developed as a PhD researcher because it has an interdisciplinary, intersectoral and international character that results in professionals with an integrated view of the future Energy System and its implications on the social, economic, technical, political contexts.
What exciting developments/events/milestones do you (want to) reach in the
Somehow, I would like to be involved in education and worldwide research projects. I developed an interest in analysing micro influences on macro energy systems and identified research opportunities in the fields like climate change geopolitics, energy justice, and engineering education. I strive to contribute to research teams by working in collaborative environments to further develop transversal skills and improve communication between researchers from multidisciplinary areas (e.g. technical and social).
Godoy, J. (2020). Book Review : Down to Earth : Politics in the New Climatic Regime. Frontiers in Climate, 2(October), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.3389/fclim.2020.524365
If you are interested in the specifics of the 15 research projects, you can find summaries and video explanations from the researchers here.
Our project is supported by 23 industry partner institutions.
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