Energy system studies

Why is the shift of the energy system towards improved sustainability not going faster? Why are energy policy objectives sometimes not being achieved?

Energy systems research is concerned with the interaction between people, organisations, institutions and technology. it is often aimed at acquiring knowledge of synergies to provide a better decision‑making basis for those involved in the energy system, regardless of whether they are politicians, companies, organisations or households.

Sociologically‑orientated system studies are of decisive importance for such purposes as the drafting of policy measures, negotiations on climate policy or the forming of future visions of the energy system.

Man and technical systems affect each other

Both technology and social science use the term 'system'. Studying 'technology as a system' means different things, depending on the working area and views of those carrying out the study. For the Swedish Energy Agency, the energy systems studies thematic area includes not only system science research as often defined by scientists, but also investigations of the behaviour and actions of individuals or organisations, viewed from such perspectives as the national economy, legal aspects or sociology. Energy ystems studies are often cross-disciplinary or multi-disciplinary.

The basis for this system perspective is that all technology can be seen as closely or loosely linked parts that create a whole. Technically, an energy system can be defined as consisting of a number of sub-systems, such as a district heating production plant with associated distribution network, or by geographical boundaries such as local authority or national electricity grids. But these technical systems are owned, controlled, developed, operated and used by many parties and organisations, all of whom affect the various systems and who can be regarded as parts of them.

Energy systems and those involved in or with them are also affected by taxation, legislation, regulations and events in the wider world. Most of these factors also have mutual effects upon each other. It is therefore not sufficient to look for one answer to a question at a time, as this fails to consider the underlying understanding of the relationships within the whole. If questions are, instead, put from a system perspective, it should be possible to build up a multi-faceted view of the energy system's function, and to develop conditions intended to work towards sustainable energy systems. An important element of the work in this thematic area is that it is individuals who construct and build the technical systems, while the technical systems in their turn affect society, organisations and individuals.